Saturday, December 5, 2015

The Pumpkin Pie Panic

This year has been an odd cruising year. We had hoped to make it to Stuart, FL by Thanksgiving to have our dinner with friends, but the combination of hurricane Joaquin and the passing of my husband's father set our travels back by six weeks. We did manage a good dinner at Bucksport Marina on the ICW, but it was not one I labored over with love in my galley.

This weekend a friend of ours came to visit who had also not had a good Thanksgiving dinner, and it seemed like an appropriate time to spend the day cooking. I prepared my favorite pumpkin pie, opened the Hillerange oven door to put it in, only to discover that the mercury switch in the oven wall was in flames. I quickly turned off the oven, flipped the propane solenoid and turned off the propane at the tank. After a few minutes of discussion with my resident boat mechanic, it was determined that the mercury switch was defective and that we were, once again, without an oven. Most of the rest of the dinner could be prepared on the stove top, but the ready-to-bake pie sat there, taunting. After having learned to make pizza on the stove top last summer, I began to wonder if the pie could be baked on the stove top as well. I began to construct a stove top oven of sorts, by placing my heat diffuser on the burner. Next I placed a foil strip around the edge of the pie crust and lowered the pie pan into my cast iron skillet which I placed on the diffuser. I inverted my 10-1/2 inch heavy stainless steel deep skillet on top of the pie pan and baked the pie for about an hour on a medium low flame.

I anticipated that if it worked at all, the crust would most surely be damp and gummy. Much to my surprise, the crust was golden brown, and the pie perfectly set. The keys for the success seem to be in setting the pan on the crumpled foil around the crust which allowed the steam to escape, and in not raising the lid at all during the baking time. Our pumpkin pie panic turned into a very nice sharing of pie with neighbors over some good coffee and conversation. Score!

Fold a long piece of aluminum foil in quarters length wise and place this strip around the pie, crimping the ends together

Place a diffuser on the burner, place a cast iron skillet on the diffuser, place the prepared pie plate in the skillet (lip of pie plate should rest on edge of skillet but the bottom of the pie plate should not touch the bottom of the skillet.) Invert deep, straight-sided skillet on top of pie, resting edge of skillet on crimped foil.

Place some hot mitts (sorry mine are well-used and not pretty) on top to help hold the heat. It also helps if your top pan is a good heavy-bottomed pan.

Bake for about one hour on a medium-low flame. Do not lift lid to check. Smell periodically to check for burning - your burner temp may need to be adjusted either up or down.

 The crust browned nicely, which I think was a result of the crust being right against the top pan.

It passed the taste test!!

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