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Music – “Get Baking / Bakewell Counting / Early Bake / Countryside Air / Final Destination (Get Baking Medley)” from Music Featured in the T.V. Program: The Great American Baking Competition by The London Film Score Orchestra. Released: 2014.
Readers may have seen my post of July 31st, “New Olympic Event? The Pieathalon!” Well, the pie-baking day has arrived, after much putting-off and grumbling. (I am NOT a baker and entered this worthy competition with some trepidation) I was assigned “Walnut Pie” from “The Yul Brynner Cookbook“, published in 1983. The recipe was courtesy of Jenny at Silver Screen Suppers.
I made my pie on August 15th, which, coincidentally happens to be “National Lemon Meringue Pie Day“, according to my book “Eat the Year“. And, shame on me, I was making Walnut Pie! Perhaps I’ve already violated some Pieathalon statute, like doping in the Olympics ? Actually, I don’t even think there are medals awarded (but it doesn’t matter, because my fireplace mantel is too cluttered with my other numerous awards. Right.)
Nevertheless, I proceeded with caution, taking photographs at every opportunity, after continually dusting off flour from the lens of my camera. First, the book and the recipe:
I assembled the ingredients for the pastry: flour, butter, a pinch of salt and one egg:
Here is the sequence:
Now, according to my consulting book “The New High Altitude Cookbook“, I added a tablespoon of water to allow for the drying that often occurs during high altitude baking (don’t I sound like I do this all of the time? Not!)
After the dough was sufficiently mixed:
I neglected to take a photograph of the fluted edges I gave the pastry, even though no instructions deemed it to have one. In high school, I played the flute in music class and I have made fluted crusts on pies. Unfortunately, I would have to admit that I was never good at either one (which might explain why I forgot to take a photograph!)
Once the pie crust was prepared, it seemed very buttery and soft to me, so I decided to pop it into the refrigerator until the filling was prepared. The filling consists of light corn syrup, dark brown sugar (I had only light, so I hope this is not another infraction!), sour cream, a dash of salt, melted butter, vanilla extract, eggs and walnuts. Together, it seemed extremely rich and rather a lot of filling considering the size of the pie plate. I used Mexican vanilla, which has a richer flavour. I initially forgot to add the melted butter before stirring first, so I added it afterward and stirred again:
Next, it was time to beat the eggs and add to the rest of the mixture. I should point out that my beater was a Sunbeam Mixmaster, which I received as a gift in 1972 and is still going strong!
Finally, it was ready to pour (I ladled – yet another infraction?) into the prepared pastry and scatter the walnuts over the top. Although the recipe specified “whole shelled walnuts”, my local grocery seemed to be out of whole walnuts and I had to be satisfied with “halves and pieces” (perhaps another Pieathalon incumbent was in my neighbourhood and snatched up the whole pieces!)
After carefully assembling everything, I proceeded cautiously to my awaiting 350 degree oven:
Because there seemed to be so much filling and I was afraid it would overflow into a burned, sticky mess in my fairly new oven, I excluded about a half a cup of the filling, which I poured into a small Pyrex dish and sprinkled with walnuts (an extra bonus after the pie is finished!) I also put an aluminum piecrust protector ring on top of the pie, or whatever that gadget is called.
The recipe specified that the pie should bake for “45 minutes, or until filling is completely cooked“. After 45 minutes at 350 degrees, I pulled out the oven rack and the contents of the pie quivered like quicksand, so back in it went.
I reset the timer for another 20 minutes. After checking again, the quicksand had congealed a bit, but was definitely not ready to eat. Another 15 minutes seem to do the trick, so after a total of 80 minutes, the pie was finally done and seemed to have set properly.
Not being a frequent baker (which I have already admitted to), and being at an altitude of about 5,700 feet, I know that weird things happen in the oven and on the stove top, and I think that at least part of the extra time required for the pie to set was a function of this anomaly. When I first moved to Albuquerque, from just outside of Toronto (about 450 feet above sea level), I couldn’t understand why it took me FOREVER to boil potatoes! I would put them in a pot and boil, and boil, and boil. I learned after some trial and error that water boils at 212 degrees at or near sea level, but that due to atmospheric pressure, it boils at about 200 degrees at the elevation of my residence in southeast Albuquerque. The water is boiling away, but the temperature is lower, so it takes much longer. Lesson learned (but not in baking!)
Now, for the ultimate decision about whether or not I am eligible for a Pieathalon medal (if there is one!): the taste test! I admit that I am not a lover of “sweet” things, however, my spouse is. Here is his verdict on the Walnut Pie:
(all photos, unless otherwise specified, by Sue Jimenez)