Evette Rahman has won the best-in-show category three times in the American Pie Council’s National Pie Championships. She says baking pies is a family affair. It’s all hands on deck when the pie contest rolls around and the Rahmans have every detail figured out, from baking the perfect crust to transporting pies in custom-made caddies to ensure that they arrive in picture-perfect shape.
This year Evette was awarded 10 blue ribbons from the American Pie Council, including best-in-show. She shares a recipe for her favorite pie, Lemon Blueberry Blast, which combines a lemon meringue pie with a blueberry pie. Try her recipe below.
Perfecting your crust
Evette will be the first to admit that making the perfect pie crust is no easy feat. She does extensive research, testing out new recipes and experimenting with different ingredients and measurements all the time. Here are a few pointers to bear in mind as you practice making your own crust:
- Pure butter is difficult to work with but results in better tasting crusts. You can get away with using all-butter for the bottom crust, but you may end up with a hard cookie-like texture if you do so for the top. Try equal parts butter to shortening for a flakier top crust.
- Experiment with different liquids. Some people swear by vodka or ice water. Consider using milk, heavy cream or half & half.
- Salt to perfection. Too much salt will taste off, but not enough of it will yield a bland-tasting crust.
Build your own cream pie caddy in 5 easy steps
If you’ve ever participated in a pie contest, you know maintaining the integrity of all that hard work during transport can be quite the challenge, especially with a cream pie. (Your beautiful creation may be melting as we speak!) Lucky for us, Evette has an easy DIY guide for crafting your very own cream pie caddy.
- Plastic caddy large enough* to fit your pie (available at Target, Lowes, etc.)
- Shallow cardboard box (to fit in the caddy)
- Scissors or an X-acto knife
- Ice (enough to fill half the caddy)
- Your pie
*Note: KCRW’s ‘Good Food’ Pie Contest rules state that your cooler must be no larger than 40 quarts and should measure no more than 18-inches-deep by 26-inches-long.
- Trim the walls of the cardboard box so that the pie tin sits midway between the top and bottom of the caddy.
- Turn the box over and draw a circle slightly larger than the base of your pie tin onto the bottom surface of your box. Cut out the shape with scissors or an X-acto knife. You should be able to slide the bottom of your pie tin into the hole without it falling through.
- The morning of the contest, fill your caddy with ice and wedge the open side of your box over the ice so that it won’t slide.
- Next, insert your pie tin into the cut-out and adjust for a snug fit.
- Finally, secure the caddy lid and your pie will be perfectly refrigerated for safe transport to the contest!
Evette Rahman’s Blue Ribbon Lemon Blueberry Blast Pie
Yield: Makes a whole pie (8 slices)
1¼ cups all-purpose flour
1 tbsp granulated sugar
½ tsp salt
3 tbsps unsalted butter, chilled and diced
3 tbsps vegetable shortening
2 tbsps milk
½ tbsp vinegar
Lemon Meringue Filling
4 egg yolks
2 (14 oz) cans sweetened condensed milk
½ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 tbsp lemon zest
1½ cups fresh blueberries, divided
¼ cup granulated sugar
1 tbsp cornstarch
1 tbsp water
Sweetened whipped cream
Lemon peel, julienned
Make the crust: Mix the flour, sugar and salt together in a bowl. Cut in the butter and shortening. Then add milk and vinegar, mixing together well. Work quickly and form the dough into a disk. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for one hour.
Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Roll out the chilled dough on a floured surface and transfer it to a deep dish pie plate and crimp the edges. Transfer the dough-lined pie plate to the freezer and chill for 15 minutes.
Next, blind bake the crust in the oven for 15 minutes. Reserve and set aside. Do not turn off the oven.
For the Lemon Meringue Filling: Mix the egg yolks, sweetened condensed milk, lemon juice and lemon zest together in a bowl. Pour the Lemon Meringue Filling into the pie shell and transfer to the oven to bake for 20 minutes. Chill in the refrigerator.
For the Blueberry Topping: Add a cup of blueberries, sugar, cornstarch and water to a saucepan over medium heat. Simmer until the mixture thickens, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and gently stir in the remaining half cup of blueberries. Chill the Blueberry Topping in the refrigerator.
To serve: Spread the chilled Blueberry Topping evenly over the Lemon Meringue Filling. Then, pipe sweetened whipped cream around the outer rim of your pie and garnish with julienned lemon peels and blueberries.
Return your pie to the refrigerator to chill for at least 4 to 6 hours, or until set.
Header image by Roberto Gonzales for Orlando Magazine.