November 13, 2016

Cinnamon Crack Pie

It's been a long week for everyone, so I'm trying to focus on things that make me happy, namely Friendsgiving with my Food Science Club peers, stress baking, and eating copious amounts of pie sticky and sweet enough to hold everything together. This pie has been heralded by many at that Friendsgiving and elsewhere as one of the best recipes I've ever made, which could be the reasoning behind the name. You know, because it's addictive. Like crack. The other logical linguistic conclusion could be because the pie cracks when it's done, but that's no fun.

So I've told you how amazing this pie is and clearly it has cinnamon in it and may or may not crack (but most definitely doesn't actually have crack in it), but you don't really know what's in it. It's hard to describe exactly, but try to imagine the filling from a pecan pie with a hint of cinnamon and no pecans. It's gooey, caramel-y, and packed with brown sugar goodness.

The filling is prepared kind of like a caramel. You just boil brown sugar, a bit of flour, butter, cinnamon, and a can of evaporated milk until it's thick. This can take a few minutes, but there are no eggs or other additional proteins to form a network to firm the filling while baking, so you need to make sure the filling is thick enough in this step. The filling does gel to a degree, but you don't want a runny pie. It should be about the consistency of cake batter before cooling; thick enough to spread and retain some of its shape while still being somewhat pourable.

After cooking, vanilla is stirred into the filling and it is chilled until cool. As you may remember from all my other pie recipes, the key to a good pie is to keep everything cold. When the butter in the crust is cold, the steam from baking creates flaky layers. Pouring a molten-hot caramel into a perfectly chilled crust would ruin that effort. A cold filling also helps to set the caramel because again you don't want to cut a slice of pie and have it all ooze out. Ideally, you get a perfectly set pie and top it with a big scoop of ice cream for a fresh start this week and/or the best dish at your Thanksgiving table. If this pie isn't quite your thing, stay tuned this month for more tasty Thanksgiving pie ideas.

1 Recipe Pie Crust Dough (See Below)
2 Cups Brown Sugar
6 T Flour
1 12oz Can Evaporated Milk
4 T Butter
1/2 tsp Cinnamon
1/2 tsp Salt
2 tsp Vanilla

Heat oven to 375F. Grease a 9" pie plate.

Roll the dough out to fit the pie plate. Press gently to adhere and chill until firm.

In a medium pot, whisk the brown sugar, flour, evaporated milk, butter, cinnamon, and salt together over medium heat until it reaches a boil. Boil for 6 minutes, stirring constantly, until thickened. Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla. Refrigerate until cool.

Pour the filling into the crust and bake for 5 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 325F and bake for 30 minutes or until set and crackly.

For the pie crust:
Pulse 1 1/4 C flour, 1/4 C sugar, and 1/4 tsp salt in a food processor until combined. Add 1 stick chilled and cubed butter and pulse until small pieces remain. Combine the an yolk with a tablespoon of cold water and add in. Pulse until it begins to form a ball, adding more water as necessary. Chill.

Serves 8
Recipe Adapted from Buns in My Oven

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