Friday, December 6, 2013

The pie dilemma

One of my pet peeves with the food industry is that too often you are forced to buy two different items that don't match up.  For instance, hot dogs come eight to a package; hot dog buns come ten to a bag.

The same is true with thanksgiving pies.

They've done a pretty good job of getting a can of pumpkin to fill a standard pie plate, but a damn lousy job with mincemeat.

Yes, I'm a lover of mincemeat, even though conventional wisdom holds that nobody likes the stuff any more.  (I also love fruitcake, despite its identical reputation.)  But mincemeat has to be procured commercially, either in a big jar or in a tiny little package that you reconstitute with some boiling water.  I haven't seen one of those little packages in a decade, so now I buy the big jar.

The only problem: it only fills somewhere between a half and two-thirds of a pie plate.  My usual remedy is to cut up a couple of apples and put them in the bottom of the pie.  Not only does it eke out the innards to better fill the crust, it cuts the richness of the mincemeat a bit.

This Thanksgiving I did the usual routine: piecrust on the bottom, a layer of apples, then the jar of mincemeat.  And it was still looking pretty skimpy.  In fact, the piecrust extended a good two inches beyond the filling.  If I added the top crust as you always do, I'd either have a huge empty cavity inside the pie, or a crimped edge of crust two inches wide, or a boatload of leftover crust cut off to make everything fit right.

I made a radical decision -- no top crust!  I folded the extra crust over the edges of the mincemeat and stuck it in the oven.  To my delight, the filling didn't bubble up and escape over the top of the crust, but stayed where it belonged.  And there was plenty of crust per filling.

Next time, I may do this again.  Or I'll put in four apples instead of two.


  1. My grandmother never put a top crust on her mincemeat pies. My allergies from age six included some ingredient in there, so I never learned to make them.

    Mary Anne in Kentucky

  2. Sandra Palmer CiolinoDecember 11, 2013 at 1:51 PM

    What a great idea for skimpy fillings! Have you tried cranberries instead of apples? Or both? Or cranberry sauce? Love the tart taste.

    1. cranberries are a great idea! I'll report back after the Christmas pie.

  3. Sandra Palmer CiolinoDecember 18, 2013 at 11:24 AM

    I used your fold-over crust approach when I made meat pie the other day. The recipe calls for a double crust, but since the meat filling is so rich, I wanted a single crust. It worked well to fold the crust over part of the filling, which kept it from drying out. In my opinion, the single crust was a more pleasing crust/filling ratio than the double crust. Thanks for the tip!

    Sometimes I make croustade, a more rustic version of fruit pie. Roll the crust out on parchment, transfer paper and crust to a baking sheet, fill with simple fruit filling, leaving at least 3" of uncovered crust exposed. Fold and pleat crust up and over (like your mincemeat pie), and brush with egg wash. Optional: lightly sprinkle with raw sugar for some texture and crunch.