The Kitchen Ade: Holiday desserts as easy as pie

Using ready-made pie crusts, canned pumpkin and peeled and sliced fresh apples can make baking for the holidays “as easy as pie.”


And, if you want to “play” a little and put a little art into your pies, using these products frees time to trim crusts with pastry leaves using pie crust cutters, or roll out cut-out pastry crusts using lattice pie top cutters.

When making a pumpkin pie, never feel guilty about using canned pumpkin. No matter how experienced or expert you are at making pumpkin pie, you will never achieve baking as smooth a textured pie with fresh pumpkin as you will with canned. In addition, canned pumpkin is not as watery as fresh, and in terms of convenience, it just can’t be beat.

This is the first year I used packaged peeled and sliced apples for making apple pie, and the outcome was good. Also a first, I cooked the apple pie filling prior to placing it into the bottom crust. Pre-cooking the filling not only prevented a gap from forming between the apples and the top crust, but it also allowed for the use of a lot more apples, resulting in a pie that was considerably higher than typical.

When time is short, pre-made fill and bake pie crusts are a pie-bakers best friend. They are especially forgiving when handled and ideal for cutting into shapes for decorating crusts and other pastry-based desserts. They are also useful for making lattice-type cut-out crusts.

The recipes here for pumpkin and apple pies yield professional-looking results with a taste to match – easy as pie to make, easy as pie to eat for Thanksgiving and all the other holidays that are about to arrive.


Sue Ade is a syndicated food writer with broad experience and interest in the culinary arts. She has worked and resided in the Lowcountry of South Carolina since 1985 and may be reached at

Pumpkin Pie


Yield: 1 (9-inch) pie 


1 (9-inch 4-cup capacity) deep-dish pie shell

1 (15-ounce) can 100 percent pure pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling) 

¾ teaspoon pumpkin pie spice    

¾ teaspoon ground cinnamon

¼ teaspoon ground ginger 

¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg

¼ teaspoon ground cloves

½ teaspoon salt

1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk

2 large eggs, slightly beaten


Heat the oven to 425 degrees. Mix pumpkin, spices and salt in a medium mixing bowl. Blend in sweetened condensed milk and eggs, mixing until well combined. Pour mixture into pie shell. 

Bake for 15 minutes, then reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees. Bake for 40 minutes more, or until knife inserted near center comes out clean. Cool on wire rack for 2 hours before serving, or refrigerate. Store leftovers in the refrigerator.


Sugar-Crusted Apple Pie

A perfect pie, no gaps between crust and apples, no runny juices


Yield: 1 9-inch pie


Double crust for a 9-inch pie

3 (12-ounce) bags peeled, sliced sweet apples

3 tablespoons butter

1 tablespoon lemon juice

¼ cup cornstarch

½ cup apple cider or juice

¾ cup granulated sugar

6 tablespoons  light brown sugar

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon apple pie spice

½ teaspoon nutmeg

¼ teaspoon salt 

1 egg white mixed with 1 teaspoon water, lightly beaten

Coarse sanding sugar for sprinkling on pie crust

Position the oven rack in center of the oven. Heat the oven to 350 degrees. In a small mixing bowl, mix the sugars, with cinnamon, apple pie spice, nutmeg and salt; set aside. In another small bowl, dissolve the cornstarch in the apple cider or juice; set aside.

In a large deep skillet, over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the apples and lemon juice and cook 5 minutes, stirring well to coat the apples with butter and juice. Sprinkle sugar mixture over the apples, stir, then cover, cooking 10 minutes more, stirring apples a few times. Stir the cornstarch mixture to reconstitute, then pour over the apples, cooking about 3 minutes until thickened. Remove skillet from heat to cool completely. 

While the apples are cooling, line a 9 x 2-inch glass pie dish with one of the pie crusts. Brush lightly with some of the egg white mixture. Fill the crust with the pie filling, pilling the apples slightly higher in the center. Top with second crust and crimp to seal as desired. Brush beaten egg white over the top crust, then cut a few slits into the crust to vent. (There is no need to cut vents into the top if you use a lattice-cut top crust.) Liberally sprinkle sanding sugar over all. 

Place the pie dish on a cookie sheet (to catch spillovers), then shield the edges of the crust with a pie shield or strips of aluminum foil. Bake for 40 minutes, then carefully remove the pie shield and rotate pie. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, more or until apples are tender. (If top of pie begins to brown too much, cover loosely with foil.) 

Remove pie to a wire rack and allow to cool for at least 30 minutes before serving. Refrigerate leftovers. Will keep, covered, for up to 3 days.



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