Pie Squared

ham and cheese slab pie

Pie–she’s often the underappreciated sister in the dessert family. Cake gets all the glory—candlelit entrances at birthdays and tiered seating at weddings, and all eyes are on her first slice at a host of gender reveal parties.

But, have you ever heard of a savory cake? I think not! Pie can flex her ingredient muscles into sweet and savory recipes. More bakers and cooks are appreciating the nuances of pie by elevating traditional slab pie recipes. Made in (mostly) a 9x13-inch rimmed pan or larger jelly roll pan, these lovelies are great for serving a crowd or adding to a buffet lineup. Diners can cut the entrée or dessert any way they like, including into squares, or they can just grab a serving spoon and dig right in.

For a delicious take on sweet and savory slab pies, we turned to Taylor Ellingson of greens & chocolate— “where” the website notes, “healthy cooking meets sinful indulgence.”

Plymouth Magazine: On what occasion does it make sense to serve slab pie?
Taylor Ellingson: I think slab pies are perfect for serving to a larger crowd. While a pie will serve around eight people, a slab pie makes around 16 servings. For savory slab pies, such as my ham and cheese slab pie, I love making it for a family brunch or dinner at home and having leftovers.

How do standard pie recipes need to be retrofitted?
Slab pies are, generally, not as thick/ deep as circular pies, which will affect cooking time. The thinner filling will require less baking time than a deeper circular pie. To adjust to the decreased baking time due to the shorter height of filling, when you are baking a slab pie with a liquid or custard filling, you will have best results if you par-bake the crust prior to adding the filling. Since slab pies are traditionally baked in a jelly roll pan [check your recipes for pan size], … approximately double the amount of pie needed to accommodate the large size.

… If you’ve never made a homemade pie crust, there’s no shame in using storebought. I have used store-bought refrigerated pie crust many times and find it yields great results. If you have a favorite go-to pie crust recipe, I would double the recipe for a slab pie. For the filling, avoid the temptation to overfill the pie crust to avoid spilling on the transfer to the oven and while baking.

Let’s talk about the perfect crust-to-filling ratio.
The perfect crust-to-filling ratio is all personal preference. Slab pies have a high crust-to-filling ratio, meaning the filling is much thinner, and, for people who love crust, that is definitely a good thing. For people who love filling, I would suggest making a slab pie recipe with a fruit or no-bake filling, which can be piled a little bit higher than custard fillings.

What about go-to ingredient brands? … For butter, Land O’Lakes is my go-to butter for all baking. My pie crust recipe is an all-butter recipe, so the quality of butter definitely makes a difference.

Try some of Taylor Ellingson’s slab pie and pie crust recipes by visiting our website plymouthmag.com, where you’ll find tips for baking Ham, Egg and Cheese Slab Pie, Apple Slab Pie with Crumb Topping and her Go-To Pie Crust. Enjoy!