The Value of Pie

Written by Leah LeMoine Category: Lifestyle Issue: August 2015
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Deliciousness is the constant in these sweet, summery circles. Learn how to make them.

“To me, summery pie is all about using things that are in season, fresh fruits,” says Danielle Morris, co-owner and executive pastry chef at Earnest in Chandler. We assembled a kitchen cabinet of pastry pros to give us summer pie tips, tricks and, of course, recipes.

Earnest’s Banana Cream Pie
“This dessert I started with Cork, our previous restaurant. I’d had a banana cream pie at N9NE in Las Vegas that was really good, and so I kind of did a version of that. It’s a mix between a diplomat cream and a Bavarian cream. A diplomat cream is when you take a pastry cream and you fold in whipped cream, and a Bavarian is when you add gelatin to that.”
Danielle Morris, Earnest,

Pie Tips:
Do: Keep ingredients cold. Rachel Ellrich Miller of Pistol Whipped Pastry even chills her flour on particularly hot days.  
Don’t: Be afraid to hit “reset.” If things get too warm, pop everything in the freezer for a few minutes to chill out.
Do: Work quickly. Use a food processor’s “pulse” setting to quickly incorporate ingredients so you...
Don’t: Overwork the dough.
Do: Use a mix of butter and shortening/oil to achieve flakiness without greasiness.
Don’t: Skimp on salt. A saltless crust tastes like flour; a properly salted crust elevates the sweetness of the rest of the pie.
Do: Use substitutions to satisfy dietary restrictions. Gluten-free cookie crumbs with melted butter make great crusts, and vegans can use flaxseed, whipped tofu, vegan butters and more.
Don’t: Be afraid to experiment. “You just keep learning,” says Dana Stern of Bragg’s Factory Diner. “Anybody can do it. And if they don’t want to do it, they can call me and I’ll do it.”


Gluten-Free option - Lemon Buttermilk Pie with Graham Cracker Crust
“I love custard pies and they are my go-to dessert during the summer: chilled, creamy and light. Add fresh berries, basil leaves and slightly sweetened whipped cream for garnish. The bitters in this recipe adds a little depth to the flavor, much like bitters do in a cocktail.”
Rachel Ellrich Miller, Pistol Whipped Pastry,

For crust:
1 package graham crackers *
melted butter

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Pulse pieces of broken graham cracker until crumbled. Pour into a bowl, and gradually add melted butter until the crumbs resemble wet sand and start to clump. Pat into the bottom of the pan and up the sides. Bake for 8 minutes. Allow to cool.

For the filling:
1 ½ cups granulated sugar
2 tbsp. all-purpose flour or potato starch *
½ tsp. kosher salt
2 eggs, whole
8 egg yolks
Zest of 1 lemon
½  cup lemon juice
1 cup buttermilk
1 1⁄2 tsp. AZ Bitters Lab Orange Sunshine
Bitters or pure vanilla extract
3 tbsp. butter, melted and cooled slightly

Whisk together sugar, flour/potato starch, and salt.

In a food processor, blend the eggs, egg yolks, sugar mixture, lemon zest, lemon juice, buttermilk and the orange bitters or vanilla on low until combined and smooth. As the food processor is running on low, drizzle in the melted butter until combined.

Pour into prepared cooled graham shell. Bake at 325 degrees for about an hour or until the pie filling is set but still a bit jiggly. If crust is getting too dark, cover crust with foil.

Cool the pie, and then refrigerate. The pie can be served cold or at room temperature.

* By using potato starch instead of the all-purpose flour, and gluten-free graham crackers for the crust, you’ll make a gluten-free version of this pie.


Vegan - Strawberry-Jalapeño Pie   
“I like to do a lot of combinations, like apple-rosemary, peach-basil. I’m not a sweet lover, which is weird. But I think that’s good in baking, because then you don’t overwhelm people with [desserts where] one bite is enough. When you get something, don’t you want to finish it?”
Dana Stern, Bragg’s Factory Diner,

Two 9" unbaked vegan pie crusts
4-5 cups of strawberries, halved or quartered
2-3 jalapeños, diced and seeded
1⁄3  cup sugar
Juice of 1-2 limes
1-2 tbsp. tequila (optional)
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
¼  cup arrowroot or cornstarch
2 tbsp. flour

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Roll out one pie crust and bake for 10 minutes. While the crust is cooling, toss strawberries and jalapeños with sugar, lime juice, tequila (if using) and vanilla. Let sit for about 10 minutes.

Add the arrowroot/cornstarch and flour. Toss to coat. If there is extra liquid, drain a bit. Fill pre-baked pie crust with the filling. Roll out second pie dough for the top. Drape over the top for a traditional pie crust, or cut shapes with cookie cutters and line the top of the pie. Brush with almond milk or melted vegan butter and sprinkle with raw or granulated sugar. Bake at 400 degrees for 30-35 minutes.