Life of pie

Momofuku Milk Bar’s (in)famous Crack Pie; a rich, smooth and utterly indulgent French Chocolate and caramel tart; and two slightly healthier but no less delicious options, an Italian Crostata di Marmellata and a traditional Grandma-style Double crust apple pie.

Crack pie

A thick, chewy crust filled with an outrageously sweet gooey filling, it’s a wicked sugar-rush. You’ll want small servings!


Preparation time: 20 + 20 minutes
Baking time: 18 + 50 minutes
Cooling time: 1 hour + 2 hours, approx.
Chilling time: overnight


Oat Cookie Crust

9 tbsp / 1 stick + 1 tbsp / 4 1⁄2oz / 125g unsalted butter, room temperature, divided (6 & 3 tbsp; 85g & 40g)
5 1/2 tbsp (packed) / 2 1⁄2oz / 70g light brown sugar, divided (4 & 11⁄2 tbsp; 50g & 20g)
2 tbsp / 1oz / 30g white sugar
1 large egg
3/4 cup plus 2 tbsp / 2 3⁄4oz/ 80g old- fashioned oats
1/2 cup / 2 1⁄2oz / 70g all-purpose flour
1/8 tsp baking powder
1/8 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt


3/4 cup / 6oz / 170g white sugar
1/2 cup (packed) / 3 1⁄2oz / 100g light brown sugar
1 tbsp dry milk powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup / 1 stick / 4oz / 115g unsalted butter, melted, cooled slightly
6 1/2 tbsp / 100ml heavy whipping cream
4 large egg yolks
1 tsp vanilla extract
Powdered sugar for dusting




Position rack in center of oven and preheat to moderate 350°F/180°C/gas mark 4. Line a 13x9x2 inch/33x22x5cm metal baking pan with parchment (baking) paper. Lightly spray or butter a 9 inch/22cm diameter glass or ceramic pie dish.

Combine 6 tablespoons (85 gm) of the softened butter, 4 tablespoons (50 gm) of the brown sugar and the white sugar in medium bowl. Using an electric mixer, beat until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.

Add egg and beat until pale and fluffy, about 1 minute.

Add oats, flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt and beat until well blended, about 1 minute.

Dump oat mixture into prepared baking pan and press out evenly to edges of pan.

Bake until light golden, 18 minutes. Transfer baking pan to wire rack and cool cookie completely, about an hour.

Using your fingertips, crumble the cookie a into large bowl – there should be no identifiable pieces of cookie remaining. Add the remaining 3 tablespoons (45 gm) butter and 1-1/2 tablespoons (20 gm) brown sugar. Rub in with your fingertips until the mixture is moist and sticks together when pressed between your fingers.

Transfer cookie crust mixture to pie dish. Using your fingers, press mixture evenly onto bottom and up sides of pie dish (about 1 inch/2.5cm up the sides if your pie dish is deep). If your pie dish is shallow, place it on a baking sheet in case of overflow.


Whisk both sugars, milk powder, and salt together in a medium bowl.

Add melted butter and whisk until blended.

Add cream, then egg yolks and vanilla and whisk until well blended.

Pour filling into crust.

Bake 30 minutes (filling may begin to bubble up). Reduce oven temperature to 325°F/160°C/gas mark 3. Continue to bake until filling is brown on top and set around edges but center still jiggles slightly, about 20 minutes longer.

Cool pie completely in pie dish on wire rack. Chill uncovered overnight.

Sift powdered sugar lightly over top of pie. Cut pie into thin wedges and serve cold.

Chocolate-caramel tart

Chocolate and caramel tart brings together two of my very favourite sweet flavours, but the pie itself is not overbearingly sweet. It is, however, rich and smooth and amazingly good! A buttery crust, a layer of creamy caramel and a layer of rich chocolate mousse. Swoon!


Active time: 1 hour altogether
Baking time: 35 minutes altogether
Cooling time: approx. 2 hours altogether


Pâte sablée

1 large egg yolk
5 tbsp / 2 1⁄2oz / 70g granulated or powdered sugar, as you prefer
1 3⁄4 cups / 8 3⁄4 oz / 250g all-purpose flour
pinch salt
9 tbsp / 1 stick + 1 tbsp / 4 1⁄2oz / 125g cold butter, diced
3 tbsp + 1 tsp / 50ml cold water


For the caramel

7 tbsp / 3 1⁄2 oz / 100g granulated sugar
7 tbsp / 100ml whole cream, hot

For the chocolate mousse

2 large eggs
7 tbsp / 100ml whole milk
1/3 cup / 2 1⁄2 oz / 75g powdered sugar (optional)
13 tbsp / 200ml whole cream
7 oz / 200g dark chocolate, broken into pieces



Pâte sablée

Preheat oven to moderate 350°F/180°C/gas mark 4. Lightly grease a 9″/24cm or 10″/26cm tart pan, ideally a fluted metal one with a removable bottom.

In a small bowl, whisk the egg yolk and sugar together with a teaspoon of the water until pale and fluffy. Set aside.

Sift the flour and salt together into a mound on a work surface.

Scatter the diced butter over the top of the flour. Quickly toss the butter in the flour so it’s all coated, then, using your fingers, rub it in until it resembles breadcrumbs. Keep repeating the operation until it has the consistency of sand.

Gather the flour mixture into a mound and make a well in the center.

Pour the egg mixture and the rest of the water into the well. Working quickly, incorporate the wet ingredients into the flour, first with your fingertips then with a bench scraper until just mixed but not brought together.

Gently gather dough together into a rough ball between your palms. If it stays together, it is sufficiently moist. If it doesn’t stay together, add a touch more water and repeat the process.

Using the palm of your hand, push away from you to smear the dough across the work surface, gather it up and repeat until it comes together into a smooth, soft ball. You aren’t kneading, you are using the smearing action to bind the elements of the dough without developing the gluten in the flour. The dough ball shouldn’t spring back when pressed.

Lightly flour your work surface and lightly roll the dough out to about 3mm thick in a circle to fit your pan. Press the dough gently into the pan, prick all over the bottom with a fork.

Line the tart pan with baking paper and fill with dry beans or pie weights and bake until set, around 9 minutes. Remove pie weights and paper and bake another 6 minutes, until dry.

Remove the pastry from the oven and allow to cool in the pan. Leave the oven on.


Spread the sugar evenly across the bottom of a small, heavy-based, non- coated saucepan (it needs to be metallic so you can see the color). Heat over a medium-low heat without stirring until the sugar starts to melt and becomes liquid around the edges. Once about a quarter of it has melted, gently stir continuously with a wooden spoon or heat-proof spatula until it turns a deep amber color, a few minutes depending on how high the heat is.

Remove from heat and very slowly and carefully pour all (100ml) of the hot cream into the caramel, stirring continuously – it will splutter and steam so be very careful as it is extremely hot. The cream needs to hot and poured very slowly, otherwise the caramel will seize. Keep stirring until it stops bubbling and is well combined then set aside to cool.

Chocolate mousse

In a medium bowl, whisk the eggs together with the milk (and powdered sugar, if using).

In a small heavy-based saucepan, bring all (200ml) of the cream to a boil.

Remove cream from heat and add the broken chocolate. Stir until the chocolate has melted completely and the mixture is smooth. Let cool a few minutes.

Pour the chocolate mixture into the egg and milk mixture and stir gently with a spatula to obtain a smooth cream.

Spread the cooled caramel in the bottom of the cooked tart shell.

Gently pour the chocolate cream over the caramel so you don’t disturb it.

Place the tart into the hot oven and bake for 30 minutes, until the filling has set but is still wobbly in the center.

Remove the tart from the oven and allow to cool to room temperature. If using a tart pan with removable bottom, unmold before serving.

Crostata di marmellata

Crostate are a traditional Italian sweet treat, most often filled with jam, preserved or fresh fruit, or nut-based fillings such as almond or hazelnut paste, or they can be filled with pastry cream, citrus curd or numerous other delights. The recipe I’m giving here is for a simple Crostata di marmellata, filled with home-made strawberry preserves.


Active time: 1 hour altogether
Baking time: 30 minutes altogether
Chilling and resting: 2 hours altogether
Cooling time: 3 hours altogether



Note: You need about 2 cups (500 ml) (680 gm) (24 oz) of
jam for the filling. This should make about as much as you need, depending on the juice content of the strawberries, but you can use more or less filling without a problem.

18oz / 500 g strawberries, washed, hulled and quartered
250g 2:1 gelling sugar (or 500g of 1:1 gelling sugar, or as much white sugar (1 to 2 cups) as desired + pectin according to manufacturer’s quantities)
3 tbsp / 45ml freshly squeezed lemon juice

Pasta Frolla (basic Italian pie pastry)

2/3 cup / 5 1/3oz / 150g unsalted butter, room temperature
1/3 cup / 2 2/3 oz / 75g sugar
1 large egg, room temperature
1 tsp vanilla extract
grated zest of 1 medium lemon
1 2/3 cups / 8oz / 225g all-purpose (plain) flour
pinch salt


Note: This will make more than you need. Store leftover glaze in a jar in the fridge and reheat before using. It should keep indefinitely.

1⁄4 cup / 2 2/3 oz / 60ml / 75g apricot jam
1-2 tsp freshly squeezed lemon juice




Stir everything together in a heavy-based saucepan and heat slowly over medium-low heat, stirring constantly.

When the strawberries have released their juice and the mixture comes to a boil, allow to boil for the time given in the gelling sugar/pectin manufacturer’s directions.

Allow mixture to cool to room temperature.

Can be made ahead and refrigerated, covered, for up to a week until needed.


Using a paddle attachment on a stand mixer or an electric hand mixer or whisk, cream the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy, 2 – 5 minutes. The amount of time you cream the butter will affect the final dough – longer means lighter which in turn means a softer, more fragile dough which is less easy to work, but I prefer the texture of the cooked pastry this way because it’s lighter too. If you want to do a more intricate lattice, I’d recommend a shorter creaming time so you have a firmer dough.

Add the egg, vanilla and lemon zest, one at a time, mixing thoroughly after each addition.

Add the flour and salt and mix until the dough comes together but remains soft, about 1 minute using a stand or electric mixer or a wooden spoon if mixing by hand. Don’t over-mix.

Wrap dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes to one hour.

When getting ready to bake, rest dough at room temperature for about 30 minutes.

Lightly grease a shallow 9″/24cm metal pie dish.

On either a piece of parchment or a lightly floured surface, roll 2/3 of the dough (I weighed my dough and 2/3 was about 12oz/340g) out to a circle to generously line the pie dish. I prefer to use parchment with a circle traced on it so I can roll it as quickly as possible, before the dough gets too soft to handle, then use the parchment to transfer it to the dish.

Transfer the dough to the pie dish, press in gently and roll the edges to form a good surface for attaching the lattice later. Prick all over the bottom with a fork.

Refrigerate the dough-lined pie dish for 30 minutes to reduce shrinkage during baking.

Preheat oven to moderate 350°F/180°C/gas mark 4..

Line pastry with parchment and fill with dry beans or pie weights. Bake until set, around 15 minutes.

Remove the weights and parchment and allow to cool. If using a springform or loose based pie dish, remove the side of the pan.

Preheat oven to moderately hot 400°F/200°C/gas mark 6.

Roll the remaining dough to fit the pie dish and cut it into roughly half inch/1.5cm-wide strips.
Spread the filling over the par-baked crust.

Arrange the strips of dough in a lattice over the filling (see links below for some how-to guides – you can do an intricate intertwined lattice or a very simple overlay one like I’ve done), trim as needed and lightly pinch the ends onto the rolled edge of the bottom crust.

Place pie dish on a baking sheet and place in center of oven. Bake until lattice is golden, around 20 minutes. Meanwhile, prepare the glaze.

Heat the jam and lemon juice in a small saucepan over medium heat until mixture comes to a boil. Alternatively, you can heat it on medium-high in a bowl in the microwave for about 2 minutes, stirring halfway.

Strain through a fine mesh sieve if it’s chunky.

While glaze and pie are both still warm, brush over lattice crust.

Allow pie to cool completely before serving.

Apple pie

Double crust apple pie is a true classic throughout many parts of the world. With a light flaky crust encasing a luscious warmly spiced filling, it’s a pie that really needs no further introduction.


Active time: 45 minutes altogether
Baking time: 50 minutes
Chilling time: 1 hour


Flaky pastry

2/3 cup / 5 1/3oz / 150g unsalted butter
1 3⁄4 cups / 8 2/3oz / 250g all-purpose flour
2 tsp sugar
1/4 tsp salt
3-8 tablespoons / 45-120ml cold water


1 to 1 1⁄2 kg / 2 1⁄4 to 3 1/3lb apples (depending on the depth of your pie dish)
1 cup lightly packed / 7oz / 200g light brown sugar (more or less to taste)
1 tsp ground cinnamon
pinch of ground cloves, nutmeg and/or ginger (optional)
1 – 2 tsp white sugar for sprinkling (optional)


either 1 egg beaten with 1/2 tsp water or 1 tbsp milk



Weigh/measure out the correct amount of butter, wrap it in foil and freeze it for at least 30 minutes.

Sift the flour, sugar and salt into a large bowl.

Using the large holes on a box grater, grate the frozen butter directly over the flour in the bowl. Hold the butter by the foil to avoid warming it up too much and work as quickly as possible. Using a table fork, toss the grated butter in the flour until it’s all coated.
Alternatively, finely chop the butter and rub in with your fingertips, working quickly to avoid warming it. This is best left to those lucky folk with cool hands!

Sprinkle 3 tablespoons (45 ml) of cold water over the mixture and mix together with the fork. Add more water, spoon by spoon, as needed – it will depend on temperature, humidity and a million other factors, but the finished dough should be moist and starting to come together, but not wet. I used 7 tablespoons (105 ml). Use your fingertips to test if it’s sticking together.

Finish by using your hands to quickly bring the dough together into a ball. Just press, don’t knead.

Wrap dough in plastic and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to hot 220°C/425°F/gas mark 7 . Lightly grease a deep 9″/24cm ceramic or metal pie dish. Note that a dish this size results in quite a thin top crust – if you want a sturdier top which cuts more cleanly, then you should use a smaller dish so you don’t need to roll it out so thinly.

Take 2/3 of the pastry dough (I weighed my dough and 2/3 was about 12oz/340g) and roll out to fit pie dish, right up to the rim. Line the pie dish with it, prick all over the bottom with a fork and set aside.

Peel, quarter, core and slice the apples and place in a bowl. How tightly you can pack them into the pie depends on how thinly they are sliced – I like them chunky, but you will get a firmer filling if they are very thin.

Sprinkle the brown sugar and spice(s) over the apples and toss well to coat.

Pack the apples tightly into the lined pie dish. The filling can come up above the rim of the dish in a mound.

Roll out the remaining pastry dough to fit over the apples.

With a wet finger, moisten the edge of the pastry in the dish. Place the dough lid on the pie and press the edges together. Trim the edges as necessary and crimp the seam closed with your fingers or the back of a fork.

With a pair of kitchen scissors, cut three vents in the top of the dough. You can either cut leaf- shaped vents and use the pieces you removed to fashion decorative leaves, or you can cut straight vents and use any pastry trimmings to fashion decorations as desired. Moisten the back of the decorations with a wet finger and gently press onto the top of the pie.

Glaze the top of the pie with a beaten egg or milk, then sprinkle the top with a little white sugar.

Place pie dish on a baking sheet and put it into the center of the oven. Bake for 20 minutes, then reduce heat to moderate 180°C/350°F/gas mark 4 and bake for a further 30 minutes. The top should be light golden brown.

Serve hot, warm or cold.


Storage & Freezing Instructions

Crack pie will keep well in the fridge, covered with plastic wrap, for 5 days. You can freeze it, well wrapped in plastic, for one month. Defrost in the fridge.

Chocolate and caramel tart will keep in the fridge, covered with plastic wrap, for 3 days. It is unsuitable for freezing. The pastry can be made a day ahead.

Crostata di marmellata and Double crust apple pie will both keep well in the fridge, covered with plastic wrap, for 5 days, although the crust will soften. The baked pies can be frozen, well wrapped in plastic, for one month. Defrost at room temperature or in a slow oven. The pastry for both can be made a day ahead.


Additional Information

Lattice video
Lattice photo step-by-step guide
Pâte sablée step-by-step pictures
and a video of the pâte sablée process
David Lebovitz has some great tips and pictures on making caramel here
A somewhat limited but still useful list of apple varieties and their uses


Recipe Sources

Crack pie: Bon Appetit
Chocolate and caramel tart: Pastry from chefsimon, filling adapted from Valéry Drouet’s “Chocolat
Crostata di marmellata: adapted from Carol Field’s “The Italian Baker
Double crust apple pie: adapted from Baking Bible: From the oven to the table



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31 Responses to Life of pie

  1. Wow, that’s a lot of pie! I think the crack pie looks too sweet for me…chocolate and caramel looks yummy though!

  2. Thank you so much for an AMAZING challenge. It was swoon worthy indeed.
    I only had a chance to try the crack pie and it was heavenly.The whole family loved it
    Saved the others to try real soon

  3. G’day and WOW!!! A VERY big thank you for hosting this GREAT challenge, true!
    Without your challenge, I would never feel this pride in saying I have now made apple pie from scratch and it has been devoured by hubby and friends…might have to make another one too! 🙂
    Cheers! Joanne
    What’s On The List

  4. aishazd says:

    Thanks so much for hosting the challenge. It was a great one 🙂

  5. Renata says:

    Fantastic challenge, Rachael! I loved to be introduced to Crack Pie. All your pies are amazing and i still want to try them all. Thanks for hosting this month!

  6. Rebecca says:

    Thanks for the fun challenge!

  7. Shelley C says:

    Thank you so much for being such a sweet, wonderful, enthusiastic and supportive host for this amazingly delicious challenge!!

  8. makeycakey says:

    Thank you for a lovely challenge! Doing it almost at the last minute means I even had some leftover pie for coffee break at work today 🙂

  9. myninjanaan says:

    i love love loveddddd this challenge! Thank you!

  10. Suz says:

    Thanks for a great challenge, Rachael. 🙂 The crostata pastry was gorgeous – I filled it with rhubarb and baked custard, but I’ll be making it again with strawberry jam because your photo is the most tempting thing ever!

  11. hannah says:

    Thank you for an excellent pie challenge!! Great recipes…I can’t wait to try the chocolate tart!

  12. zazacook says:

    Thank you so much for this great challenge! My Chocolate and Caramel Tart was outrageously delicious! I enjoyed making it with my whole family 🙂

  13. Thank You Rosa for a great challenge!! I enjoyed my Caramel Tart and I can’t wait to make the crack pie.

  14. Fantastic challenge, Rachel! I made the crack pie. All I can say is WOW!

  15. marilyne_k says:

    Thanks a lot again Rachael, this month’s challenge has been a lot of fun. All your pie look yummy, great work running this challenge.

  16. Debbie says:

    These all look amazing. Thanks for the challenge. I did the crostata, but I can’t wait to try the Crack pie and the chocolate & caramel one!

  17. Cakelaw says:

    Thanks for hosting us this month Rachael. I finally got around to making crack pie – hooray!

  18. All these pies looks absolutely fantastic Rachael.
    I’ll be happy with big servings of each thanks 🙂

  19. marcellina says:

    Thank you for hosting Rachael! I haven’t got around to making the crack pie but I certainly will! The Chocolate Caramel Tart was such a hit with my family it will be on the dessert list for years to come. I loved you instructions for the pate sablee and it worked out amazingly! Didn’t shrink!!! Thank you also for your kind comments on my blog. You were wonderful and kind to everyone always commenting on every pie and tart. Thank you!

  20. Thanks for the fabulous challenge Rachael! All of your pies look amazing! I loved the crack pie and still would like the try the other three. Thanks for all of your hard work!

  21. Thanks for such a great challenge! Wish I had better planned my time so I could have made more than one, the rest of the recipes are all definitely on my must-make list though!

  22. Pingback: Daring Bakers’ Challenge: Sweet Pie | Ramsons & Bramble

  23. Thank you again for this beautiful challenge.
    Even thought I chosed to bake a cherry pie; I will definitely try your apple pie; it seems DELICIOUS and I love the way it looks.
    Keep on baking such nice treats !!

  24. Rachael, what a fantastic challenge you prepared for us! Having just hosted myself, I know how much work goes into preparing one challenge recipe, let alone four! I absolutely loved both the crostata and the chocolate caramel tart, and I know I will be making many more of them (and I’m always happy for any opportunity to make a fruit pie!) My favorite part of this month was trying out these different pastry crust recipes, all of which are keepers for me, and I can’t WAIT for an occasion to make the crack pie! 🙂 THANK YOU!

  25. Amrita says:

    Take a bow Rachael. Loved all the amazing pie recipes. They are such keeper recipes.
    Thank you.

  26. Rachael, thank you for the fantastic challenge. This was pie heaven and a lot of fun! I am going to try the others in the days to come. Gracias!!!

  27. All your pies look so well executed and delicious! Thank you so much for all the effort you put into this month’s challenge – you introduced me to some great new dishes and techniques 😉

  28. Swathi says:

    Thanks Rachel for the wonderful challenge I loved making the Chocolate caramel tart. I will rest of the pie as I get time. You are amazing hostess.

  29. Jeanne says:

    Thanks for a fun and delicious challenge! It’s been far too long since I’ve baked a pie. The flaky pie crust recipe that you provided is fantastic. I’m baking another pie with it right now!!! 🙂

  30. Renee says:

    Thank you for the great challenge! I made the Crostata di Marmellata – at least in spirit. I found a dairy-free crust recipe, but added a touch of vanilla; and I filled it with a blueberry honey-jam. It was a HUGE hit with my family and my son’s friend. For once, my picky eater actually ate the edge of the crust – I am sure it was due to the yummy glaze. Thank you!

  31. Finally got around to making pie for your challenge! Thank you so much for hosting it! I think I’ll have to come back and make the chocolate caramel one one of these days! Looks too good!

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