The first thing that I always do when baking pies in a wood cookstove is to build a good, hot fire.
|A hot fire preheating the wood cookstove oven.|
a) Compromise the two temperatures and adjust baking times accordingly. I have often had great success by maintaining an oven temperature somewhere between 375 and 400 and judging the doneness of the pie by the browness of the crust. This is the method that I most frequently use.
b) Have your usual, steady wood fire burning on the grate, then heat the oven to 400 by adding very small pieces of kindling, corn cobs, small sticks (what I think of as "biscuit wood"), etc. These burn quite hot, but do not burn long. Thus, once the pie is put into the hot oven, a larger log can be added to calm the hot fire created by burning the small fuel, reducing the heat of the oven.
c) Some cooks advocate opening the oven door for awhile when it is time to reduce the oven temperature. I've done this on occasion, but I don't recommend it because some baked goods are too delicate for this kind of temperature shock.
d) If your cookstove is equipped with a water reservoir which sits next to the oven side, I've read that you can be ready with a bucket of cold water to pour in it when it is time for the oven temperature to be reduced. The addition of the cold water to the reservoir robs BTUs from the oven.
e) In the book Woodstove Cookery: At Home on the Range by Jane Cooper (a book which I should dedicate a blog entry to), guest contributor Barbara Streeter stated: "Fruit pies are the best in a wood stove. If you have no thermometer on it--just build the fire real hot, till it's mighty uncomfortable to put your hand in the oven to test it. Then quick put the pie in the bottom and let the fire die out slowly. After forty-five minutes, it should be done. If juice runs over onto the oven, shake some salt onto it and it will burn to a crisp and will easily brush away."
Anyway, the first pie that I assembled was the raisin pie. This pie is one of my favorites; unfortunately, I was the only one who ate a piece of it on Thanksgiving. I remember a family Thanksgiving many years ago when my grandmother on my dad's side made a raisin pie. I had not had raisin pie before that, and it was not until the mid to late 1990's that I finally ran across a recipe for it in a Reminisce magazine.
I always make this pie for our local town's Fourth of July celebration, and I don't think there's ever been a piece left at the end of the afternoon. Because our kitchen was all torn apart this summer, I made our Fourth of July pies at my parents' house and somehow managed to lose the raisin pie recipe between there and here. Thus, I was excited when one of my fellow faculty members at school suggested that I look for the recipe online. I was easily able to find it here: Raisin Pie Recipe. Don't pay any attention to the negative reviews. I've recently found this same recipe on another very popular recipe site, and all of the reviews are quite positive.
This is a good wood cookstove recipe because while your oven is heating, you take advantage of the hot stovetop to prepare the filling.
|The raisin pie filling ingredients when they are first put on the fire.|
|The filling once it reaches a boil.|
|The hot pie filling poured into the bottom crust with the top crust waiting|
on the rolling pin.
|The assembled pie ready for the oven.|
|The raisin pie baking in the wood cookstove oven.|
Pardon the appearance of the oven floor. Obviously,
it has seen its share of boil-overs.
|Beating the eggs.|
|The prepared custard batter being poured into the unbaked crust.|
|The two pumpkin pies baking in the wood cookstove. Notice that the pie nearest the firebox has completely mounded; it is done baking, but the one in the back corner of the oven still has a concave center. It needs a few minutes more.|
Things took a turn after that. I mixed up a pecan pie. It looked beautiful. It smelled beautiful. It was going to taste beautiful. As you can see from the picture below, however, it didn't look so beautiful on the floor. While I was taking it out of the oven, I managed to drop it!
|An entire pecan pie on the floor in front of the cookstove.|
|The offending hinge.|
The last pie to be made was an apple pie. It's getting late, and this post is already quite long, so I'll just show you some pictures of the process. Really, apple pie needs its own blog entry anyway, don't you think?
I wish that we had gotten some shots of the finished products, but hindsight is twenty-twenty, you know. Hopefully, I'll get better at this blogging thing. At any rate, the pies were delicious, and baking them in the wood cookstove contributed to their excellent flavor.
If you bake in a wood cookstove, please leave a comment and let me know about some of your methods of regulating the temperature.