Monday, November 22, 2010

Pie Crust leaves - a tutorial!

With Thanksgiving just a short three days away, I thought I would finally put up my pie crust leaves tutorial! I've these pictures for about two months now, but to be perfectly honest, I had completely forgotten about them until I was making pumpkin pies earlier. (For my dad's work potluck) The pies are in the oven right now, so I thought I would take the opportunity to post this tutorial. Pies are my thing. I love to make them, I have all kinds of knifty gadgets for them, I collect pie plates, and pie birds, and I've been making pies alongside my grandmother and mom since I was about 3 years old. For me pies aren't just about the taste. Texture quality and presentation are also hugely important. I have spent many hours perfecting my pie crust recipe and technique to create a tender flaky crust. My grandma taught me as a toddler how to flute the edges of the crust to give it that extra touch of love. My mom taught me this next trick of presentation. Colored Pie crust leaves! I recently took this pie to a potluck, and you would not believe how astounded people are at the presentation, and honestly, though it does take a bit of time, they are really easy to make. So, without further ado, the tutorial. The amounts I've specified only make enough for one pie, so bear that in mind if you are making more than one pie!

You will need:
A half batch of pie dough (most recipes make enough for one double crust or two open faced pies
a rolling pin
Large and small leaf cookie cutters
Egg yolk
food coloring
a small pastry paintbrush
aluminum foil
Cookie sheet

1. Roll out pie dough fairly thin about 1/8-1/4 inch thick, and cut out 15-20 leaves. Cut both large and small leaves. This will give the pie a better appearance and the little leaves allow you to fill in where the big leaves leave gaps.

2. (Optional) If you'd like your leaves to have more detail and look more realistic, score veins into the leaves with a sharp paring knife (I know you can't really see the picture, but I am sure you can use your imagination! :) )

3. Take a length of aluminum foil and roll it into a log, crumpling it slightly as you go, varying the thickness and severity of your crumpling. (for the smaller leaves, it will have to be a lot tighter than this log!)

4.Take the yolks from two eggs and seperate evenly between three small dishes. (If you'd like your colors less vibrant, use whites instead of the yolk) Put two-three drops of food coloring in each dish. (I made yellowish orange, green and reddish orange for my colors)

5.Start randomly painting the colored egg yolk onto your leaves.

6. When you have finished coloring the leaves, drape them over the aluminum foil logs. Make sure you vary the direction the leaves are lying so they aren't all the same.

7. Bake the leaves at 350* for about 5 minutes to start, and then add time from there on. You will want to watch them carefully, because they can be rather finicky, depending on how heavily painted they are. You don't want them really crisp, just barely done (but not underdone) is how you want them.


Let your pie cool for about 15 minutes and the leaves for about 5 minutes before you put them on the pie. You want your pie to be slightly warm so the leaves will stay on the crust, but not so hot that the leaves will sink into the filling. So, just use your judgment, and don't rely on my times! Place the leaves carefully around the edge of the crust. For mine I tried to do large-small, large-small-small, but just do what works for you. Also save one or two leaves to place in the middle where the knife marks are from testing the pie!

I hope this tutorial helps you create a beautiful and unique pie for Thanksgiving this year! If you have any questions or if any of the steps leaves you puzzled don't hesitate to ask or email me, I'll try to get back as soon as I possibly can!



Kara said...

:) Awesome job! stunning...beautiful...wonderful job!

Anonymous said...

how do you let the leaves stick to the crust?

Elissa said...

Anonymous commenter - thanks for visiting!

Well they don't really "stick" but, if the pie is warm enough, they will meld slightly with both the filling and the crust, you shouldn't have a problem with them getting disarranged or anything, but you need to make sure that both the leaves and the crust are still warm (but not TOO hot!). Just place them around the pie, and let them sit, and they should be fine. I've never had any trouble with it!

Hope this helps!

CNK said...

Beautiful! I love making pies; this is definitely on my list of things to try :) What recipe do you use for the crust? last time i made it from scratch, I used 2 cups flour, a pinch of salt, 1/3 cup shortening, and 7 teaspoons of water. It was a little dry when I mixed it up, but it turned out great. (much to my relief :)-C