“When you die, if you get a choice between going to regular heaven or pie heaven, choose pie heaven. It might be a trick, but if it’s not, mmmmmmm, boy.” –Jack Handey, American humorist

Sweet, savory, hot, cold, dense, gooey, and on and on — when it comes to pies the varieties are limitless. Few types of food can really span the entire spectrum of meals. In fact, you could probably go several days eating nothing but pies and still have a bountiful variety without even scraping the surface of all the different pies there are to try. In Chef Instructor Dan Stone’s “A World of Pies” class we got to try our hand at making a great sampling of international flavors as we learned the techniques used to make these well-loved dishes.

*The Key to Key Lime: While using juice from the key lime variety of limes is universally recognized as what gives key lime pie its distinct flavor, the sweetened condensed milk is another vital component. Though we have advanced refrigeration methods now, this form of preserved milk was originally one of the only options available to keep milk from souring in the Florida heat.

*Temperature Control: The general rule for all pie making is “work cold, bake hot.” When working with pie dough, it’s easiest to handle when it’s very cold and the dough isn’t as sticky. Though when it comes time to bake, most recipes require a very hot oven, to ensure the fillings are heated all the way through.

*Secret Agents: The perfect blueberry pie isn’t easy to come by. When it comes to pie dough try using vodka in place of some of the water as the alcohol evaporates much more quickly, allowing the crust to crisp nicely. For the filling, try using just a little ground tapioca for a thick, luxurious texture without altering flavor.

*Don’t Whip it, Whip it Good: When making mashed potatoes to top a Sheppard’s Pie, the best tool to use is a rice mill. It provides the ideal creamy, smooth texture, unlike using a high-speed mixture, which activates starches making for gluey potatoes.

Whatever your preference may be there’s a reason pies have crossed cultures to become a staple food the world-over. For more “World of” classes, check out the newest array of recreational classes.

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