My first pie of spring will be rhubarb custard, but those little rhubarb shoots are taking their sweet time, irrespective of my whining.  Where to look for pie inspiration when relegated to last year’s apples and root vegetables?  I ran across a turn of the century recipe that suggested using carrots to make pie, much in the same way as you would use pumpkins. Carrot pie? This I had to try.  The carrot pie I cooked up is indeed very similar to pumpkin pie, but it has a few fantastic qualities that make it stand on its own. The color is an amazingly vibrant orange (I can’t help imagining what this pie would look like with yellow or purple carrots…) and the texture of pureed carrots is exceptionally smooth and velvety, without a trace of the graininess that is the pitfall of many a pumpkin pie. I paired the carrot puree with two of my favorite accompaniments for carrots: orange and ginger. The spicy-sweet filling has a bite of ginger, the brightness of orange and of course, the earthy sweetness of carrots. In pie form it is at once familiar and unexpected. Well, what do you know? A new (old) pie, perfect for spring, but tasty and satisfying enough to stand up to other pie classics.


Ingredients:

1 pie crust, chilled

Stewed Carrots:

1½ lb. carrots
2 oranges
3 T fresh, grated ginger (about a 4” piece of fresh ginger set aside 1T to be added with the custard ingredients)
1½  c. water
2 T. butter
1 small cinnamon stick
½ t. salt

Custard:

⅔ c. milk
⅓ c. cream or crème fraiche
⅓- ⅔c. dark brown sugar*
2 whole eggs and 1 egg yolk

Equipment:

rolling pin
plastic dough scraper
9″ pie plate


Parbake Crust:**

Preheat oven to 350°F. Take a large  paper coffee filter (or several small filters)  and completely line the inside of the pie dough. Fill the pie with dried beans or weights. Bake crust with weights for 20 minutes. As soon as the beans have cooled enough to handle them, remove the beans and the coffee filters. The dough underneath will still look moist. Return the crust to the oven for another 10-15 minutes. (The crust will puff up in the oven, don’t worry.) Immediately after you have removed the crust from the oven, press down on the crust bubbles with the bottom of a measuring cup or some other flat-bottomed implement.

Prep Produce

Peel carrots and cut into 2” lengths. If they are very wide (over an inch) cut the thickest pieces in half lengthwise. Grate ginger.  Zest and juice the oranges.

Stew Carrots

Place the orange juice and zest in a stock pot or dutch oven along with the rest of the ingredients for stewed carrots. (Set aside 1 T. of the grated ginger to be added after the carrots have stewed.) Place the pot over high heat and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 20- 30minutes, stirring occasionally. Pay more attention to the carrots as they are nearly done. You want to cook down the cooking liquid to almost nothing, but if you overdo it you could burn the carrots. Test carrots to make sure that they are tender all the way through. If they need to cook longer, but you are out of liquid add a little more water and continue cooking until they are tender. Remove cooked carrots with a slotted spoon or tongs and place in a blender. If the leftover cooking liquid is more than ¼c, boil it down until you have ¼ c. or less. Discard cinnamon stick.

Blend & Season

Add the cooking liquid from the carrots to the blender. Add milk, cream and ⅓ c. brown sugar to the blender. Blend on high speed for a full minute, scraping down the sides of the blender if necessary. The puree should be very smooth. Taste the carrot puree and add more sugar in a tablespoon at a time, until you reach the desired sweetness. Add eggs and yolks to the blender. Blend to mix.

Bake

Pour filling into parbaked crust.  Cut three 2” strips of aluminum foil. Crimp and bend the foil so that it will sit on top of the crust– this will help to keep your crust edge from over-browning. Place in a 350°F oven and bake for 55- 65 minutes, turning once. The top of the filling will crack and the whole filling will puff up slightly. Transfer pie plate to a rack to cool.  Allow to cool completely before serving

Serve

Because this pie isn’t loaded with sugar, it should be refrigerated if kept for more than a day. But the flavor is best if you bring it up to room temperature before serving.  A slice of this pie is lovely with brandy-soaked raisins and a dollop of crème fraiche.

*I offer such a wide variation of sugar content because both carrots and oranges have a hugely variable sweetness. The easiest way to avoid oversweetening is to sweeten to taste.

**With custard based crusts, I like to parbake them first– this means filling the pie crust with beans or other weights to keep the dough in place and partly baking the crust. Beans that you have used as weights won’t be good for cooking, but you can reuse the beans as pie crust weights for quite some time. The purpose of parbaking is to give the crust a jump start on cooking, and also allows it to give off a little of its moisture before adding a wet filling.  With a parbaked crust, you need to be even more careful than usual about over cooking the edge of the crust, that’s why I call for making a little crust shield for this pie.

The carrot is looked upon as a superfood. It’s crunchy and nutritious and that is why our moms always used to tell us to eat our carrots up. They may not have thought about putting a slice of carrot pie on our pates, but they believed that eating carrots in all their forms was good for the eyes.

Carrots – Sweet, Nutritious and Colorful

Most of us are familiar with orange carrots, which is the most popular carrot to use in carrot pie. However, there are also white, purple, yellow and red carrots. There is a bit of a taste difference with the different colored carrots even though it’s slight. You’re more likely to notice it when you’re eating them raw.

Whichever color carrots you use in your carrot pie, tart or another dish, they are all sweet, and good to eat and you can enjoy them as a snack, in a salad or as your main meal. 

When you look for fresh carrots at a market, you won’t find them all the same size as you would when you buy them in a plastic bag at the store. If you have a bit of space in your garden, grow your own carrots and you’ll find they have far better flavor however you use them in your cooking and baking. 

The color and appearance of food has a tremendous effect on the appetite and creates a flow of gastric juices. Carrot pie and other foods where the carrot is present always look tantalizingly appetizing.

The Rise of the Carrot in Recipes

The carrot is grown all over the world, with China being the world’s biggest carrot producer. The carrot is in the top 10 most economically important global vegetable crops.

The root vegetable can be traced back to about 5,000 years and it is amazing to think that this humble vegetable is still being produced today. There doesn’t seem to be too much carrot pie history available but certainly, carrot cake seems to have a long history. It may not have started off as cake as such, but it appears as though carrot puddings have been around since medieval times.

Cookbooks only started mentioning carrot cake recipes in the early 1900s but if you look through cookbooks, you don’t often see a carrot pie mentioned. You do see pumpkin pies mentioned and people have just learned to substitute the pumpkin with carrot. The carrot cake wasn’t mentioned in cookbooks until the early 1900s.

Versatile Carrots Eaten in a Variety of Ways 

Whatever color you’re familiar with, carrots contain antioxidants and vitamin A and eating this fibrous root vegetable can help you stave off the risk of developing cancer and cardiovascular disease. The human body turns beta-carotene into vitamin A which is an essential vitamin for skin, eyes and teeth. 

It’s precisely why it is such a good idea to cook with carrots, and the bonus part is that if you eat a carrot pie, the main ingredient, the carrots, are low in calories. In fact, a medium-size carrot has just  25 calories, and to encourage dieters further, carrots that are cultivated are made up of about 88% of water.

Anyone can make a carrot pie because people have been making them- and perfecting them for hundreds of years and you get easy carrot pie recipes from those days but also slightly more detailed carrot pie recipes of today.

Today carrots are cooked and eaten in a variety of different ways and they can be eaten as a savory or sweet dish such as apple pie. Carrot pie is traditionally associated with dessert, but many people love a savory carrot pie, and chicken and corn have found their way into a delicious carrot pie with crust. You know exactly what nutrients you’re getting with this healthy kind of pie.  

Disguise Carrots in a Pie

The value of fresh vegetables is certainly not always appreciated by children, and a carrot pie is an ideal way to ensure the kids get their vegetables in. If you do research, you can even find recipes for a raw carrot pie. This will be even more appealing to moms looking to get their kids to eat vegetables in different forms. 

Tiny little carrot pies or balls are cinnamony and sweet and have just the right amount of coconut and oats in them to make them wonderful in-between snacks. And because the carrot is such a colorful root vegetable, the small pies have perfect flavor and also some specks of color. 

Chai Carrot Pie – Getting your New Year off to a Spicy Start

New year get-togethers are ideal events to surprise friends and family with something unusual. A Chai carrot pie is definitely going to intrigue everyone and with some ingredients being evaporated milk, cinnamon, vanilla, sugar nutmeg, almonds and carrots you can imagine you’ll have everyone asking for seconds, especially when you take along fresh cream to put on top of the pie and sprinkle it with cinnamon. 

Then again, carrot custard is another simple but very popular recipe that is super easy to make. 

The ingredients are simple too –

  • ½ cup buttermilk
  • 300g carrots
  • 1½ tbsp melted butter
  • ½ cup bread crumbs
  • ½ cup milk
  • sugar to taste

How to make Carrot Custard the Easy Way 

  • Set oven to 350 °F
  • Boil your carrots and grind them into a paste.
  • Mix buttermilk, butter, bread crumbs, milk and sugar together.
  • Stir in the carrot paste.
  • Put the mixture into a baking pan which has been greased.
  • Bake for 30-45 minutes, or until the carrot custard is light brown.
  • Cake custard is best eaten warm. 

Recipes using Canned Carrots

Canned vegetables have received a bad rap because there has always been this perception that canned foods are less nutritious than fresh foods. However, research has shown that this isn’t entirely true. Canning can reduce levels of some nutrients which are sensitive to heat such as vitamin C. Then again antioxidants like beta-carotene are easier for the body to absorb after heating.

Peas, beans and carrots are all tasty served either hot or cold. In cold salads in the summer, they are a welcome change from a hot meal and give much the same food value.

Generally, canned foods are a nutritious alternative to fresh vegetables and this is good news for carrot lovers. Canned carrots are ideal to use in a savory carrot pie. 

Before you use canned carrots in a carrot pie or some other dish, drain the juice from the tin so as to reduce the sodium content. These carrots are great for adding to soups, stews, casseroles, tarts and pies.

For savory pies, you can sprinkle canned carrots with some curry powder for a spicy treat. When you add them into a carrot pie you can even saute them with some butter, garlic and herbs before adding them to your savory carrot pie.  

A Particularly Delicious Taste

A carrot pie with sweetened condensed milk is just about the most decadent pie you can get and once the pie has been baked, you can put some whipped cream on it with just a sprinkling of cinnamon over it. 

There are so many carrot pie recipes and for those who crave both carrot cake and carrot pie at the same time, a carrot cake pie is a perfect solution. It’s not surprising that it’s a favorite recipe for many people. 

Some interesting Accompaniments

Carrot cake drizzle icing is always a good idea because its simple but effective. Essentially it’s just powdered sugar and milk with the milk thinning out the powdered sugar, turning it into this sweet drizzle. 

Some people with a particularly sweet tooth will use cream instead of milk, looking for that extra richness. The amount you need for your carrot pie will depend on the size of your pie but a good idea is to start with a cup and a half of powdered sugar. 

If you’ve opted for the cream, then add a tablespoon at a time till you get the consistency you want. If you want to use milk, you’ll just require fewer tablespoons than if you use cream. 

Substitute Carrots for Pumpkin – and Vice Versa 

Some people have been making pumpkin pie all their lives and are longing to try their same loved recipes, but just wanting to  substitute the pumpkin for carrot. All it requires is for you to pick your own pumpkin pie recipe and use carrots instead. 

So where your recipe would usually be short pastry, sugar, butter, golden syrup, salt, ground ginger, cinnamon, eggs, milk and pumpkin, now you can just replace the pumpkin with carrots and vice versa. Just substitute carrots for pumpkin when you want to return back to your original pie. 

Carrot Pie – Enjoyed Savory or Sweet

For people who can only envisage carrots as savory, a chicken and carrot pie is the perfect comfort food on a cold day, and with a layer of pie crust will definitely provide you with your savory fix. 

A savory carrot pie recipe will show you just how delicious a savory carrot pie can be. Carrots can be sliced, grated, pulped, pureed or dehydrated and with their sweetness they are even used to bake cakes and tarts.

For many people, it can be difficult making choices when it comes to choosing a sweet treat. It can come as a wonderful surprise then for cheesecake and carrot pie lovers to know that you can combine them and have the ultimate sweet treat. When two favorites come together you can be sure that those with a sweet tooth are going to be serving the pie up for a tea time treat and also for dessert. 

Carrot Cheesecake Recipe

When you check out some carrot cheesecake recipes, you see that some cakes can take quite a few hours to complete. With a mini carrot cake cheesecake recipe and with a  2-parts cheesecake and one-part carrot cake recipe, you can expect splendid results.

You simply beat sugar and cream cheese together till smooth and add vanilla, flour and around ½ cup buttermilk. Then, in another bowl whisk your baking powder- and soda, flour, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt. In another bowl beat together your vegetable oil and sugar, add the vanilla and buttermilk and mix this.

Line a tin – large cupcake size – with a paper liner, scoop a tablespoon of batter into each of the liner and then put in a couple of tablespoons of the cheesecake batter. You bake it for just 22 minutes at 350°. Once it has cooled it will require about 2 hours of refrigeration and then all that is left is for it to be served with cream and a sprinkle of cinnamon.

Leftover Carrots 

What can be more tastier than a carrot pie, even if its been made from last night’s leftover vegetables that the kids wouldn’t eat? So now they can get their carrots served up in carrot pie.

To prepare a dish with some fresh food isn’t that difficult, but to make it attractive and nutritional at the same time can be quite an art. The person who is able to use leftover food cleverly in a tasty dish is worth their salt. 

The humble carrot is certainly a popular root vegetable and its coloring, its crispness and nutrition has made it that people have wanted to include it in all their culinary endeavors. No matter how you use carrots, they come with health benefits. 

Go for Organic if You Can

If you want to ensure that your carrot pie is even better tasting, organic carrots are the way to go as they haven’t been grown with the assistance of pesticides.

If you’re able to buy organic carrots you can even use them with their skins. Versatile carrots mean that when you page through recipe books, there are a host of different recipes for you to enjoy carrots in different ways.


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