Sawdust Pie: The Delectable Pie with the Unfortunate Name

Sawdust Pie at ThePieAcademy.com

 Several weeks ago, while pie-binging my way through Texas, Illinois, Michigan, and back home again – all this for a story you’ll hear more about very soon – I encountered an old friend I hadn’t seen in quite a while: sawdust pie.

 I first heard about sawdust pie way back when I was working on my pie opus – PIE: 300 Tried-and-True Recipes for Delicious Homemade Pie – and if the name didn’t exactly grab me, the ingredients did. How could a pie made with equal parts sugar, coconut, chopped pecans, and graham cracker crumbs – all the sawdusty stuff in sawdust pie – go too far astray?

Sawdust Pie at ThePieAcademy.com

 At a glance, it’s hard to know what to make of sawdust pie. For one, it doesn’t fit neatly into any pie genre you’re familiar with. The texture is closer to a coarse cake or macaroon than anything pie-like. For another, the only liquid in most recipes for sawdust pie is egg whites – beaten, in rare cases, but typically not.  

 And yet, even while it defies pie logic and has a name that’s easy to resist, sawdust pie charms us with its unusual texture, one-of-a-kind personality, and great taste.

Sawdust Pie at ThePieAcademy.com  Most recipes for sawdust pie adhere to a pretty standard formula, but variations do crop up. Chocolate chips are sometimes added. I’ve seen extra graham cracker crumbs spread over the top – for what reason, I’m unsure. Vanilla extract appears to be optional, a touch of salt advisable, and I’ve started adding a little melted butter to my sawdust pie. I just like the richness and moisture that it adds.

The No-More-Tears Pie Pastry Course

 But the variable that seems to have the greatest impact on sawdust pie is the total elapsed baking time, which varies, in recipes I’ve come across, from about 30 minutes on the low end to 45 minutes on the high. Thirty minutes, which I think is too little, will leave you with a crusted top but very moist interior just below; it’s barely done. 

Sawdust Pie at ThePieAcademy.com  Forty-five minutes, on the other hand, makes for a more cake-like filling, something like you see in the photos here. The bottom part of the filling will still be moist, just not quite so. Be advised that my pie, pictured here, was baked in a 9 1/2-inch deep-dish pie pan. There’s a lot of filling, so you need to go big on the pan size. 

 One caveat: do cut the pecans by hand, and finely, rather than using the food processor. If they become too fine and powdery it will change the texture of the filling and make it a little drier. 

 I like my sawdust pie with ice cream and caramel sauce. At Raleigh, North Carolina’s Angus Barn restaurant, whose wonderful sawdust pie I had recently, they serve it with banana slices and a drizzle of caramel. Nobody’s going to argue if you serve it with fresh whipped cream, either. 

Sawdust Pie at ThePieAcademy.com   But no matter how you serve it, once you’ve tried this pie with the funny name, I think you’ll be sold.

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OOPS! – BETTER LATE THAN NEVER

Seems that more than a few of you missed our special holiday book promotion, whereby we were giving away one of Ken’s cookbooks to anyone who ordered $45 or more worth of merchandise from The Pie Academy Online Store over the holidays. (Read all the details here.) 

Is that deal – you’ve been asking – still good?

Well, heck – why not? It’s close enough to Easter that we can safely call it our Big Easter Deal. So if you want to stock up on Ken’s cookbooks, look sharp in our Pie Academy apron, take on your pie dough with our gorgeous Pie Academy rolling pin (in maple, and now cherry) – then this would be the time.

Any questions, just give a holler by clicking on the Contact tab above. Can’t wait to hear from you.

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PASTRY NOTES – I like to make this pie with either the GOOD BASIC PIE DOUGH, the FOOD PROCESSOR PIE DOUGH or any favorite pie dough recipe you like.

Sawdust Pie

Ingredients

  • 1 recipe GOOD BASIC PIE DOUGH, FOOD PROCESSOR PIE DOUGH, or another pie dough of your choosing
  • FILLING
  • 7 large egg whites
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
  • 1 1/2 cups sweetened flaked coconut
  • 1 1/2 cups finely chopped (by hand) pecans
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

Instructions

  1. If you haven't already, prepare the pastry and refrigerate it for 1 1/2 to 2 hours prior to rolling.
  2. On a sheet of lightly floured wax paper, parchment paper, or another surface, roll the pastry into a 13-inch circle. Invert the pastry over the pan, center it, then gently peel off the paper. Tuck the pastry into the pan, without stretching it. Sculpt the edge into an upstanding ridge. Flute if desired. Refrigerate for 30 minutes. Preheat the oven to 350°.
  3. Whisk the egg whites, sugars, and vanilla is a large bowl until evenly combined. Add the graham cracker crumbs, coconut, pecans, and salt. Stir gently, until not quite evenly mixed. Add the butter and stir just until evenly combined. Don't overmix.
  4. Transfer the filling to the chilled pie shell and spread it evenly with the back of a spoon. Bake on the center oven rack for 40 to 45 minutes, until the top is crusty and risen. It's fine if the top develops little cracks here and there.
  5. Transfer the pie to a cooling rack and cool for at least 2 hours before serving. Serve slightly warm or at room temperature. Refrigerate leftovers.
http://thepieacademy.com/sawdust-pie/