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Category Archives: Pies


Solving the Blätterteich puzzle was fun.  The literal translation of “Blätterteich” is “leaves pond” which makes no sense, but it actually refers to Puff Pastry. My first search let me to the name of a restaurant in Oldenburg, German.  I remember Mom addressing letters to “Bakum en Oldenburg”, so that got me excited, but I kept getting the same translation about “leaves pond”.  Eventually I found a YouTube video in German that had “Blätterteich” in its title but it showed the process of making puff pastry.

Puff pastry is a light, flaky pastry containing several layers cold buttery. The dough (sometimes called a “water dough”)  is repeatedly folded and rolled out. The gaps that form between the layers are a result of the puff pastry rising as the water evaporates into steam during the baking process. Piercing the dough will prevent excessive puffing, and crimping along the sides will prevent the layers from flaking all of the way to the edges. 

 Making puff pastry dough can be time-consuming, because it must be rolled and chilled in 20-30 minute intervals to keep the butterfrom becoming runny; also, the rest in between the folding steps allows gluten strands time to link up and retain layering.

 Puff pastry is not the same as phyllo pastry which is also made with flour, water, and fat (but no egg) and is stretched to size rather than rolled. Usually when using phyllo dough, a small amount of oil or melted fat (usually butter) is brushed on one layer of phyllo dough and is topped with another layer. This process can be repeated as many times as desired. When it bakes, it becomes crispy but, since it contains somewhat less water, does not expand to the same degree as puff pastry does.

What makes Mom’s recipe a little different from classic recipes I found online was the addition of cognac.  I assume that is to help the dough rise a bit more.  In my version below, I took liberties and copied them from directions I found in those other recipes and the videoPuff pastry / Blätterteig herstellen



½ Mehl, ¼ Butter sehr harte, 1 geschlagenes Ei, Wasser, Congnack. Das Mehl wird mit ungefähr 1 Eßl. vom geschlagenen Ei, 3 Eßl. Wasser u einen Schuß Congnack zu einem Teig verarbeitet muß aber recht steif sein, dann ausgerollt die Butter darauf gelegt, zusammen geschlagen u. wieder ausgerollt, dann wieder zusammen geschlagen u. zum Ruhen hingelegt. Der Teig muß alle Stunden augerollt werden, einmal lang, einmal quer, bis die Butter alle durchgezogen ist.

Google Translate:
leaves pond
½ flour, butter ¼ very hard, 1 beaten egg, water, Congnack. The flour is with about 1 tablespoon of the beaten egg, 3 tablespoons water u a shot Congnack made ​​into a dough but must be quite stiff, then the butter rolled paid to beat up and rolled out again, then beaten and laid to rest. The dough must be eye rolls all hours, one long, one crosswise, until the butter has pulled all.

My Interpretation:
Puff Pastry

1/2 kg flour
1/4 KG Butter, very hard
1 beaten egg
3 T. Water
1 shot Cognac

With your hands, knead 10% (50g) of the flour with the butter and form into a block. Put on a plate and put in the fridge while you work on the dough.

Dump remaining flour in a mound; make a well in the center of the mound with a glass. Crack an egg and dump in the well then with a fork, use a whisking motion, gradually incorporate the well’s sides into the water. When it starts to form a solid mass, finish incorporating the flour by kneading. Incorporate just until it is still sticky and has a rough texture. Adjust the water & flour as needed. Try to knead as little as possible. Puff pastry likes lazy kneaders.

Working the dough:
1. Pull the corners of the cuts out of the dough ball to make a square shape. Roll the dough out to a square slightly thicker in the center than on the sides, and slightly larger than the butter block.

2. Place the butter block diagonally on the dough square, so that the butter corners are pointed at the middle of the dough sides. Fold the uncovered dough corners over the butter block to completely envelop the butter. Pinch the seams tightly together to seal in the butter.

3. Dust your work surface with flour, and roll the dough into a rectangle about 1/2″ thick. Remember to keep dusting with flour whenever needed to keep the dough from sticking & tearing the layers.

4. Size up your rectangle visually into 3. Fold one-third over the middle, then fold the opposite third over. Just like a tri-fold brochure. Try to have everything as even as possible. All the edges should match fairly closely. Put on a plate, cover, and refrigerate for about 30 minutes. Relax, read the paper, check email, whatever you like.

5. Roll out to 1/2″ thick and repeat the fold. Don’t forget to flour as you roll. Plate, cover, and refrigerate for 30 minutes. Repeat this for a total five roll & folds.

6. After the last fold, roll the rectangle out to about 3/4″. If it is difficult, put dough in the fridge for a bit to relax the gluten. If using immediately, cover, rest in fridge for about 30 minutes, then use as needed. If it’s for later, cut into sections big enough but that still fit easily in your freezer (usually just in half), layer with wax paper between sections, freezer bag it, & store until needed.

You can use this pastry to make breads, pies, cakes, cookies, etc., so shaping and baking is dependent on your final product.


Gooseberry Meringue Pie

We had some gooseberry bushes down at the “80”, the pasture with the creek where we went fishing.  They were on the bluff above the creek.  I don’t remember us ever picking them and making something from them, but I wouldn’t have gone near anything made with gooseberries in it at that time in my life. However, as and adult I’ve tasted desserts with gooseberries in them and actually liked them.

Most people would be surprised to cut into a pie with meringue topping to find gooseberries under it. This Kitchen Klatter recipe uses canned gooseberries rather than fresh. It refers to the liquid drained from them as syrup, so if you used fresh gooseberries, I am assuming you would cook them first in maybe 1/2 cup water with 1/2 cup sugar, drain them and that’s your equivalent to the syrup from the can.  

Gooseberry Meringue Pie

We think that this is a scrumptious pie!  People who don’t like gooseberries or who say that they’re too sour and acid will ask for second helpings so if you’re tired of making the same old pies, we urge you to treat your family to this.

1 lb. can of gooseberries (2 cups)
1/2 cup water
1 cup sugar (scant)
1/8 tsp. salt
1/4 cup flour
3 well-beaten egg yolks
2 Tbls. melted butter
1/4 tsp. Kitchen-Klatter vanilla flavoring

Drain syrup from gooseberries and add 1/2 cup water.  Mix together sugar, salt, flour and add to liquid.  Stir in well-beaten egg yolks and melted butter.  Cook until thick.  Add vanilla flavoring.  Gently fold in gooseberries. When cool, turn into bake 9-inch pie shell.  Cover with meringue made by beating 3 egg whites until stiff; add 1/4 tsp. cream of tartar to egg whites before beating.  Gradually add 6 Tbls. sugar.  Spread over pie and bake in a 415 degree oven until nicely browned.

Good Pie Crust

Here is another clipping that looks like it came from either Jessie Young’s Homemaker or Kitchen Klatter’s Newsletter. Perhaps this was worth considering because it uses pure leaf lard.  What’s that? It’s made from the fat lining the abdomen and kidneys in hogs. Well, in our house, we were probably working with the lard resulting from the last time we butchered hogs. In my day, we didn’t butcher at home any more, so the hog fat was likely rendered at the locker plant.  When we ran out, Mom bought lard and I’m remembering a green and white rectangular cardboard container that was on open shelves in the grocery store and not refrigerated. Whether it was “leaf lard” I don’t know, but Mom was probably on the look-out for it after clipping this recipe. 

Another interesting thing about this recipe is that the lard is not chilled.  In most recent pie recipes and advice that I find in cookbooks or the internet there is a lot of emphasis on having the fat and the liquids very cold.  Mom never told me that.  I wonder if it really makes a difference or not.

Good Pie Crust

For a one-crust pie
1 1/2 cups flour
3/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup pure leaf lard
2 1/2 Tblsp water

For a Two-crust Pie
2 cups flour
1 tsp salt
2/3 cup leaf lard
3 1/2 to 4 Tblsp water

Measure flour without sifting. Add salt and sift into mixing bowl.  Add lard (not chilled) and blend with pastry blender till mixture looks like coarse meal.  Sprinkle water over the surface of the flour and mix gently.  Dough will hold together, but will be dry enough to handle.

Shape portion to be tolled into a ball; place on lightly floured pastry cloth or board and roll lightly.  Fold and transfer to pan, pressing into place.  Bake single crusts at 425 degrees for 15 minutes.

Apple Pie

Here’s another pie recipe from the Kansas Farmer, likely the March 20 1957 issue.  

Apple Pie

For apple pie, Mrs. Davis prefers winesaps but any tart apples will be satisfactory

6 large tart apples
2 tablespoons butter
1 to 1/4 cups sugar
2 tablespoons flour
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Pare and slice apples thin.  Melt butter and pour over apples.  Mix dry ingredients and combine with apples.  Place in unbaked pie shell.  Top with second crust and bake at 375⁰ almost 1 hour.

Butterscotch Pie

This clipping is probably from the Kansas Farmer for March 20 during the 1950’s.  I’m betting it was 1957 because March 20 was a Wednesday and I’m guessing the newspaper was a weekly, out on Wednesdays.  Anyway, there are two clippings in similar type for an Apple Pie and this one.  I’ve never made a butterscotch pie, but Thanksgiving is this week and this might be an option.  I think it’s interesting that they spelled syrup with an “i” and it passed the editors!  Also, with both cornstarch and flour in that amount, I’ll bet the pie slices pretty well.


Butterscotch Pie

This was her first pie and she has not altered the recipe since.

1 cup brown sugar, firmly packied
1/4 cup water
1/4 c butter
1 tablespoon corn syrup
1 3/4 cups milk
3 tablespoons cornstarch
3 tablespoons flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup granulated sugar

Combine brown sugar, water, butter and corn syrup. Cook until temperature reaches 250⁰ on sugar thermometer.  Scald milk and add gradually to dry ingredients.  Cook 15 minutes in double boiler stirring constantly.  Add hot butterscotch mixture, stirring until smooth.  Pour over slightly-beaten egg yolks.  Cook 1 minute more.  Pour into baked pie shell.  Top with meringue or whipped cream.  See meringue recipe previous page.

Lemon Pie

I don’t think that Mom made a lemon pie very often.  Part of the problem, I suppose, was that lemons weren’t a commodity you have handy on the farm.  You have to remember to buy them.  Of course, you can buy a bottle of lemon juice, but I don’t think that was as available as now at that time.  Mom would buy oranges and lemons, sometimes, to make orange-aid, so it would have been do-able at that time.  I just don’t see Mom making a lemon meringue pie, though.  I imagine she had a taste of them at a neighborhood pot-luck at Reserville and when she saw this recipe, she added it to her collection.

I notice the recipe lists egg yolks among the ingredients, but apparently supposes you would know enough to use the egg whites from those eggs to make your meringue!

Lemon Pie

6 tablespoons cornstarch
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
Grated rind of 1 lemon
1 1/2 cups boiling water
3 egg yolks, slightly beaten
1 tablespoon butter
1/3 cup lemon juice

Combine cornstarch, sugar salt and grated lemon rind in top of double boiler, add boiling water, cook over direct heat until mixture boils.  Place over boiling water and continue cooking for 10 minutes.  Ad a small amount of hot mixture to the slightly-beaten egg yolks and return to double boiler, mixing well.  Cook 2 minutes.  Remove from heat, add butter and lemon juice.  Pour into 9 inch baked pie shell.  Top with meringue, spreading carefully to touch crust at all points and bake at 350⁰ for 12 to 15 minutes.


Coconut Pie

After my dad died, Mom lived alone in her house for another 10 years.  Those first few years I lived close enough to take her on some outings.  Of course those outings included lunch and dessert.  When coconut cream pie was on the restaurant’s menu, you could just about bet that Mom would order a slice.  The kind of pie I’m talking about would have a real pie crust, a cooked coconut pudding, a high real meringue topping with coconut sprinkled on top which turned toasty brown, almost burnt.  Since that time, when I see a coconut cream pie on the menu I give it serious consideration.  My advice is to look around and see if someone else has already ordered one and what it looks like.  There are some meringue toppings that don’t look like they are made with real egg white… know what I mean?  Also, whipped topping definitely is not a worthy substitute for meringue.

This clipping looks like it came out of Grass & Grain, not Drover’s Telegram, mainly because of the typeface.  This recipe follows pretty closely the way I was taught to make pudding, except we didn’t fool around with any double boiler!  I can’t really remember Mom making any coconut pies at home.  A lot of people don’t like that texture, and it’s quite possible my “Meat and Potatoes, Apple Pie”  Dad and brothers were among those who didn’t care for those girly pies.  Can’t help it…..I still love a good coconut pie!

Coconut Pie

1/4 cup cornstarch
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 cups scalded milk
3 slightly beaten egg yolks
1 cup moist shredded coconut
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Combine cornstarch, sugar and salt in double boiler.  Gradually add scalded milk and cook over hot water about 10 minutes, stirring constantly.  Add small amount of hot mixture to slightly beaten egg yolks and return to double boiler.  Cook about 2 minutes.  Cool and add coconut and vanilla.  Cover with meringue and bake at 350⁰ for 12 to 15 minutes.

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