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Insider's Secrets to Perfect Pie Baking

By Jane Butel  April 27, 2021

Do you like to bake pies, but are frequently disappointed?  Does the bottom crust of your two crusted fruit pies frequently turn out to be gummy and gooey?   Do you have trouble with weepy meringues?   What about your pie crusts?  Are they always nice and tender and flaky?

Photo at right is the Green Chile Apple Pie made in the last class where we made it.

I would like to have you join us for our Perfect Pies class next Thursday evening, May 6 at  5 PM.  There really are a number of hints that make pie baking very rewarding and delicious too.  I will be sharing all the  tips and techniques I have learned over the years that garner perfect results.  Once learned, you will always be very pleased at the perfect results you get every single time.

In our full-participation class, we will be making my A+Lemon Meringue  Pie, Margarita Pie, Lattice Crusted Green Chile Apple Pie, Peach Gallette and French Silk Pie.  These are all amazingly yummy and come from very well tested recipes.

Our next Day class is June 3 where we will be making Classic Paella and all the trimmings for a dinner party.  Our next weekend class is July 16 - 18 and our next  week long class is set for October 25 - 29.

You can still register for our praise winning Oaxaca Culinary tour set for June 15 - 21, 2021.  If you have any questions, please feel free to call  me at 505-243-2622 or email  me at info@janebutelcooking.com. 

To get you in a pie baking mood, I am sharing with  you two favorite pie recipes that are perfect almost any time.  One is a  New Mexico State Fair prize winner and the other is a favorite spring pie recipe. 

We still have a few openings for our wonderful  Culinary tour to Oaxaca where we will  have three full participation cooking classes, tours to Monte Alban, villages famous for arts and crafts, market tours and a Mezcal distillery. 


This award-winning recipe garnered Dr Ron Bronitsky the first prize in the International Contest of the New Mexico State Fair in 2014.  He has won numerous awards for his pies at various local and national baking contests, including the famous Pie Town NM annual pie contest.   He shares this recipe with whomever is interested.   My Jane Butel’s Cooking School sponsored this contest for 4 years.

Yield: 1, 9 inch pie


6 T.ablespoons unsalted butter

1 cup packed light brown sugar

½ teaspoon salt

¾ cup light corn syrup

3 eggs

1 t. vanilla extract

2 ½ teaspoons red chile powder (medium to hot, as desired)

1 ½ cups toasted pinon or pine nuts

  1. Over a double boiler or on low heat using a heavy 3 quart saucepan if a double boiler is not used, melt the butter.  Add the brown sugar and salt and stir until completely mixed.  Add the corn syrup, stir thoroughly and remove from heat.
  2. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing vigorously with a spoon or whisk until smooth.  Add vanilla, chile powder mixing again until smooth.
  3. Return pan to double boiler or low heat and heat mixture to 130 degrees stirring constantly.  Remove from heat.  Stir in pinon nuts. 
  4. Pour mixture into pre-baked blue corn pie crust, below. Bake at 275 F for 50 to 60 minutes.  The filling should jiggle slightly when pie is shaken—it will continue cooking when removed from the oven.  Remove and let cool at least 6 hours or overnight if possible.

Blue Corn Pie Pastry 

This recipe works best when making 2 pie crusts, save and freeze the other. 

Yield: 2 crusts

2 cups unbleached flour

½ cup finely ground blue corn flour

2 Tablespoons sugar

1 teaspoon salt

12 Tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into small cubes

½ cup chilled vegetable shortening, cut in small cubes

½ cup ice water 

  1. In food processor, combine flours, sugar and salt and process briefly.  Add butter, using 1 second pulses, mix it in until the butter is in pea size clumps, about 6 to 8 pulses.  Add shortening and pulse again, using  6, 1 second pulses.  You should see small pieces of butter and shortening.  Pour mixture into large bowl.
  2. Gently mix in ice water until dough is lightly moistened, stirring with a wooden spoon.   Remove dough from bowl, using as little handling as possible, form into a single ball.  Cut in half.  Take each half and and form into a 6 inch disc.  Wrap in plastic wrap and chill at least 4 hours.
  3. Roll 1 disc out onto surface lightly dusted with blue corn flour. Place in 9 inch pie plate.  Crimp dough and refrigerate at least 1 hour before baking empty—you can use rice or beans on top of parchment placed on top of the crust to keep the crust from “bubbling up”.   Freeze second disc wrapped in vapor proof freezing bag.


Ever since trying this ages-old recipe from England, I cannot bear the thought of making rhubarb pie any other way—other than perhaps with substituting half to a fourth of the rhubarb with strawberries.   Gooseberries are great prepared in a pie this way—just increase the sugar by ½ cup, depending on your taste and how they were frozen—if they were.

Temperature: 425 F, then 375 F

Baking time: 50 to 60 minutes

Yield:  1, 9 inch pie

1 recipe for double crusted pie, see pie pastry this issue of Bytes

¾ cup light brown sugar

2 Tablespoons flour

2 pints (4 cups) fresh or frozen rhubarb

1 small orange, thinly sliced with seeds and outside peel and membrane removed

2 Tablespoons butter

Several grates fresh nutmeg or about ¼ teaspoon 

  1.  Preheat an oven to 425 F.  Line a 9 inch pie plate with the pastry.  Mix the sugar and flour together.
  2. Place 1/3 flour-sugar mixture on the bottom of the pie, on top of the bottom pastry.  Top with 1/3 of the rhubarb, and a few slices of the orange, then scatter another 1/3 of the flour-sugar mixture over the top.  Repeat twice more, ending with a layer of orange slices.
  3. Dot with small pieces of the butter over the top.  Arrange either a lattice or solid crust over the top, bake on a cookie sheet or jelly roll pan with sides.  Reduce heat to 375 after 15 minutes and bake until golden tan and an inserted knife or fork easily glides through the fruit. 

Reprinted with permission from Jane Butel’s Freezer Cookbook




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