Saturday, November 29, 2008

Thanksgiving: Wednesday Prep

Wednesday is my Thanksgiving prep day. On my list for today is all of my bread and pie related stuff (bread crumbs, rolls, 2 types of pie). I started with the rolls as it's a 3-step process.

Dinner Rolls/Faux Croissants
This recipe comes from something like the Fleishman's yeast (or some flour) recipe book. They're not as light and flakey as a croissant, but I like them better for a dinner roll because they have a bit more of that roll-ness.

Step 1 is to make the butter thing:
1/4 cup flour
1.5 sticks butter (softened)

  1. Mix flour and butter together
  2. Plop it on to a 18 inch length of wax paper and smooth that into a 10"x4" block (really thin block) and then wrap that in the wax paper
  3. Put it in the refrigerator to chill for at least 1 hour.
Step 2 is to make the dough:
2 1/2 - 3 cups flour
3 Tbsp sugar
1 tsp salt
1 pkg yeast
3/4 cup milk
1/4 cup warm water
2 eggs
  1. Mix yeast and water. Mix everything together and knead it.
  2. Roll out the dough into a rectangle about 12 inches by 14 inches (14 inches across, 12 high)
  3. Place the butter rectangle in the center (4 inches across, 10 inches high)
  4. Fold the left and right hand side in over the butter
  5. Roll out again to the 12 x 14 (or so - it gets harder each time, just make it as big as you can without going crazy)
  6. Repeat for a total of 4 times (I do sometimes give up at 3, but it really is better to do 4)
  7. Chill for another 2 hours

Step 3 is tomorrow and is rolling out the dough into the rolls and cooking.

After the rolls, I did the pies. Pies are great for quick and good. I chose pumpkin (because I love it and it wouldn't be Thanksgiving without it) and pecan (because there are some people who don't love pumpkin, but it takes a whole lot of time to peel apples to make that).

First I make the pie crust. Now, I highly recommend making pie crust because it's not very hard and everyone will be VERY impressed.

Standard Pie Crust
This is my grandmother's recipe. I'm sure it originally came or evolved from something else, but I have no idea what that would be. This makes 2 pie crusts (or the top and bottom of one pie).

3 cups flour
1 cup + 2 Tbsp Crisco (to measure this put in a measuring cup with water in and measure the displacement - so a 2 cup measuring cup with one cup of water, add Crisco until it gets to 2 cups and you then have 1 cup of Crisco - otherwise it's just messy)
a little salt
4 Tbsp ice water (really cold from the tap is fine)

  1. Mix the flour, salt and the Crisco by hand until you get a bunch of small balls
  2. Add ice water and mix in with a fork (don't use your hands and the temperature does bad things)
  3. Once mixed, put half onto a rectangle of wax paper and cover with a second sheet

  4. Roll the ball between the 2 sheets of wax paper out into a circle big enough to cover your pie plate

  5. Bake in the oven for about 10-15 minutes (you want it dried, but not browned)
  6. Fill
See, pie is generally pretty easy - it just tastes difficult!

Pumpkin Pie
This recipe comes straight from the Libby's can (with one slight change). This is filling for 1 9-inch pie. I made 3 (there are just some things that you do not want to run out of).

3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
2 large eggs
1 can (15 oz.) Libby's Pumpkin (not the pumpkin pie stuff)
1 can (12 fl. oz.) Evaporated Milk
1 tsp vanilla (this is my addition - but doesn't vanilla make everything better)

  1. Beat the eggs and mix with the pumpkin
  2. Add in all the dry ingredients
  3. Mix in the evaporated milk
  4. Pour into the pie shell

  5. Bake for 15 minutes at 425 and then for 40-50 minutes (that's the directions, I usually bake 50-60 minutes) at 350

Let it cool before you eat it. I had a slice after only 30 minutes this year and it tasted a little jumbled (still good, just not ... perfect), but as soon as it cooled down it was smooth as silk. I like it with whipped cream, but I always offer vanilla ice cream as well as an option.

Maple Pecan Pie
This recipe is from epicurious. I chose it because it sounded good, there wasn't any corn syrup and it was maybe the easiest recipe I've ever seen. This is for 1 9-inch pie.
1 cup pure maple syrup
3/4 cup (packed) golden brown sugar
3 large eggs
1/4 cup sugar
3 tablespoons butter, melted
1 tablespoon all purpose flour
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 9-inch frozen deep-dish pie crust
1 1/2 cups coarsely chopped pecans

  1. Whisk the first seven ingredients to blend
  2. Place pecans in the pie crust
  3. Pour filling over nuts
  4. Bake at 350 until filling is puffed up (it really will puff up above the crust) or about an hour (I let mine go probably 70 minutes, but I think my oven is weak)

This is seriously the best pecan pie I have ever had. It's still really sweet, but it's not that sugar high sweet, it's a slightly better (in my opinion - and in that of my friends) maple-y sugar flavor. I did this with the option of whipped cream or ice cream as well.


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