Deirdre RooneyWhy you don't have to bake a homemade crust, use fresh fruit for the filling, and more
Pie Myth: Good Pie Starts with Fresh Fruit
Sometimes frozen or canned fruit is your best option -- especially during the winter, when fresh fruit can be prohibitively expensive or a little worse for wear. Frozen fruit is typically picked at the peak of ripeness, then flash-frozen, and it's widely available year-round.
We're partial to Cascadian Farm Organic frozen fruit (sold in most health-food stores); the cherries are particularly good. (Thaw the fruit partially before mixing your filling.)
Canned Wyman's Wild Blueberries -- sweet-tart and slightly chewy -- have far more personality than any fresh, standard-issue blueberries. (Available at Whole Foods Markets and most gourmet food stores.)
See Real Simple's Guide to a Trouble-Free Thanksgiving.
Pie Myth: You Must Make The Crust From Scratch
Pillsbury refrigerated piecrust has become the great equalizer for countless millions of American bakers. Even dedicated from-scratch types keep a box in the freezer for pie emergencies. The flavor is quite good, the texture flaky, and you just can't beat the economical directions: Unfold, fill, and bake. The one drawback: The crusts fit a standard 9-inch pie plate -- too small for most deep-dish pans.
Pie Myth: Shortening Isn't Worth the Trouble
No, it's not exactly health food. Nor does it have any flavor to speak of. But when your aim is a tender, flaky pastry, there's simply no substitute. (Even a modest amount of shortening added to a mostly-butter pastry will boost the flake factor.) And now that it comes in premeasured sticks, you don't ever have to wash a greasy measuring cup.
See the Best Thanksgiving Shortcuts from Real Simple.
Pie Myth: Grandma's Pumpkin-Pie Recipe is Sacred
Pumpkin butter is to pumpkins what apple butter is to apples: a thick, concentrated puree with added sweetness and spice.
Muirhead Pecan Pumpkin Butter takes it a step further with the addition of ground pecans. If you can stop eating it out of the jar long enough to make a pie, you'll find it brings the standard Thanksgiving favorite to a new level. Whisk 3/4 cup light cream, 3 large eggs, and a big pinch of salt with one 13 1/2-ounce jar, pour into a pie shell, and bake at 350º F for 45 minutes.