Do-it-yourself: Lion House pies

Baked Alaska Pie

Story by Becky Wright
(Standard-Examiner staff)
Tue, Dec 14, 2010
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The Lion House Bakery makes at least 100 pies a day.

"We did over 2,000 pies from the week before Thanksgiving up to Thanksgiving," said Brenda L. Hopkin, head baker at the Lion House in Salt Lake City.

Hopkin started working at the Lion House 20 years ago, and her job was making pies.

"Which was my least favorite thing in all of the baking realm to do," she said. "They make a mess and ... it's hard to feel successful with them."

Of course, after making thousands, she knows the secrets to successful pie-making. Those secrets are detailed in "Lion House Pies" (Deseret Book, $19.95). A DVD with more tips, starring Hopkin, comes with the recipe book.

"We've tried to make it easy, so everybody can feel successful — but you still have to practice," said Hopkin.

Easy as pie

One secret to a great pie is starting with great dough.

"The pie dough we use at the Lion House is like sugar cookie dough almost. It's so easy to roll out and make a nice-looking pie," said Hopkin.

Instead of just butter or shortening in the dough, the Lion House recipe uses a combination of four fats: butter, margarine, shortening and lard.

"The total amount of fat in it is not any more than in other recipes," she said. "Each is bringing in its own quality, texture and flavor, and it's what makes the dough easy to work with."

Hopkin knows people hesitate to cook with or eat lard, but she says it's worth it.

"I always tell them to eat a really good piece of pie once in while and leave the junk alone," she said.

If you can't find lard in your grocery store's baking aisle, Hopkin suggests looking on the foreign food aisle or the meat department.

"I tell people to go ahead and buy a pound, then measure it into 1/3-cup portions and put them in sandwich bags. Then put the bags together in a gallon bag and put it in your freezer. It'll last a year, but you'll have it measured out for the dough," she said.

The recipe also uses both pastry flour and bread flour, but she notes that you can substitute all-purpose flour. Pastry flour, if not in your grocery store, can be found at specialty shops such as Kitchen Kneads, said Hopkin.

You don't need old-fashioned or fancy new tools to mix the ingredients.

"My preferred way, at home, is to take my hands and mix the flour into the fats," she said.

Tasty fillings

In addition to seven different crusts, "Lion House Pies" features filling recipes for eight chocolate pies, eight nut pies and tarts, five pumpkin pies, five cream pies, and 39 fruit pies, tarts and crisps.

Before the Lion House became a restaurant, bakery and venue for weddings and meetings, it was the home of pioneer Brigham Young — but these recipes don't date back to his time.

"The recipes they used then are not as sweet, and they're a little more coarse, in ingredients, than what we use now, so most of us would not like those recipes," said Hopkin.

The recipes in the book are a combination of Lion House favorites, including "Very Berry" and coconut cream, and winning recipes from contests.

The recipe for Baked Alaska pie is a fun one to make during the holidays, because it includes peppermint ice cream.

"This time of the season, you can usually buy it in the grocery store, but any other time of year it's not readily available," Hopkin said, adding that you can substitute other ice cream flavors to make it year-round.

More to come

Hopkin, who spent her childhood in Centerville and now lives in West Valley City, says this is the first in a new series of Lion House recipe books.

"We're going to be doing cakes and cupcakes, sauces and soups, salads, and I believe one on cookies and one on children's recipes," she said.


Lion House Pie Crust

  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1/3 cup lard
  • 1/4 cup margarine
  • 1/3 cup shortening
  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon nonfat dry milk
  • 1 1/2 cups pastry flour
  • 1 1/2 cups bread flour
  • 1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon cold water

In a medium bowl, cream together butter, lard, margarine and shortening, using an electric mixer. In a separate bowl, whisk together sugar, baking powder, salt, and dry milk powder; add to creamed butter mixture and mix briefly. Add pastry flour and beat until blended. Add bread flour and mix slightly. Pour in water and beat again just until water is blended.

Divide dough into two or three balls. Roll out each ball on a floured board. Line pie pan with dough and cut off excess dough. Flute edges. For recipes that call for baked pie crusts, prick holes in bottom with fork. Bake empty pie shell at 375 degrees Fahrenheit for 15 to 18 minutes, or until light golden brown. Otherwise, fill unbaked pie shell and bake according to recipe. Makes two to three 9-inch pie shells.

Note: You may substitute 3 cups all-purpose flour for the pastry and bread flour. Additionally, this dough may also be made by hand-cutting the fats into the dry ingredients. This recipe may be used to make the crust for any recipe in the book that calls for a single- or double-crust pastry.

Chocolate Chip Walnut Pie

  • 1 unbaked 9-inch pie shell
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup pastry flour
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/3 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup butter, melted and cooled
  • 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts

Beat eggs with an electric mixer until foamy. Add flour and sugars and mix well.

Stir in cooled melted butter. Fold in chocolate chips and walnuts. Pour into unbaked pie shell.

Bake at 250 degrees Fahrenheit for 45 minutes, or until golden brown and set in the middle. Cool on a wire rack. Serve warm. Makes 1 pie.

Baked Alaska Pie

  • 1 baked 9-inch pie shell
  • 1 quart peppermint ice cream, slightly softened
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons chocolate syrup
  • 5 egg whites
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 2/3 cup sugar

Spoon ice cream into baked pie shell. Drizzle with chocolate syrup. Place in freezer until ready to use.

With an electric mixer, beat egg whites, vanilla and cream of tartar until foamy. Gradually beat in sugar until mixture is stiff and glossy. Completely cover ice cream in pie shell with meringue, sealing well to edge of crust and piling high. (If desired, pie may be frozen up to 24 hours at this point.)

When ready to serve, bake pie at 500 degrees Fahrenheit on lowest oven rack for 3 to 5 minutes, or until meringue is light brown. Serve immediately, or return to freezer until ready to serve. Makes 1 pie.


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