Slab Pie: The Bar Cookie of Pies Is a Piece of Cake
As food timelines go, the slab pie is a relatively new invention. Jessie Sheehan, author of The Vintage Baker, says:
“I was thrilled to discover a crack slab pie recipe in a 1974 recipe booklet published by McCall’s, leading me to conclude that, at the very least, home bakers have been assembling slab pies for almost 50 years. The core components are no different from your typical round pie—a buttery, flaky crust, filled with fruit that cooks down and thickens in the oven.”
So, what’s the big deal about a slab pie? Why not just bake a “normal” pie? Here are a few reasons:
- The slab pie is a good investment—you make double the filling of a traditional pie, but get three times as many servings.
- Every slice is guaranteed to have equal amounts of filling and crust (no fights).
- While deep-dish pies can be disastrous (massive quantities of juice flooding out from the first slice, pooling in the pan and making a soggy mess of the bottom crust), slab pies erase the fear factor.
- It’s perfect for large gatherings—potlucks and picnics.
- The bottom crust won’t shrink and slump.
By the way, the slab pie isn't just for dessert. You can use the same plan to create a supper pie or a quiche. Let's get started.
Recipes: Dessert Pies
Apple With Maple Icing
Sally is one of my favorite bakers. She always provides clear, well-written instructions, precise measurements, tips on specifics (which type of apple should you use?) and beautiful photographs.
For this apple slab pie, she makes a buttery crust and uses a combination of Honeycrisp and Granny Smith apples for the perfect blend of tart and sweet.
Becca, Emily, Kate, and Megan are four sisters, with 12 children, and (admittedly) kitchens full of crumbs and chaos, hence the name of their blog. Their cooking and baking is simple, made-from-scratch, full of flavor but kid-friendly.
My husband's all-time favorite pie is cherry, so I can guarantee that this slab cherry pie has been Mr. Carb Diva tested and approved.
I wish that Jessica Merchant was my next-door neighbor. We would have so much fun together because we think so much alike. A Readers' Digest version of her "about me" reads as follows:
"I’m seriously, passionately, inexplicably in love with food. Bacon makes me beam. Chocolate makes me shout from the rooftops with joy. . . . I have a terribly horrifying amount of cheese in my cheese drawer. . . . I am totally self-taught/mom-taught/grandma-taught and have no formal culinary training, just tons of mess-ups in the kitchen. I test most of my recipes at least once, but by no means claim to be a culinary genius."
She's about as natural and down-to-earth as they come, and says that slab is code for "holy-cow-this-is-a-boatload-of-pie." Despite the size of Jessica's chocolate cream slab pie you probably won't have to worry about leftovers. She shares with us a perfect buttery crust and then explains how to create a dark, rich chocolate pudding that's not too sweet. Chocolate lovers beware; this one is addicting.
On second thought, perhaps it's just as well that Jessica and I are not neighbors. My waistline would definitely suffer.
Kay Little (Cooking with K) is a southern gal and shares her passed-down-from-generations cooking with us. Her recipes are straightforward and uncomplicated. Kay uses fresh (not canned) fruit for her fresh vanilla peach slab pie. Since peaches are a seasonal fruit, you might be limited on when you can bake this pie, so bookmark it. It's worth saving and pulling out when the peaches are ripe.
Tracey has had several careers: first as a businesswoman, then as a teacher, and now (lucky for us) as a food blogger. She says this is the best job she's ever had and her enthusiasm shines through in the luscious savories and sweets she shares with us.
Her pumpkin pie would be perfect for a Thanksgiving Day gathering. No more fighting over the last piece of pumpkin pie; with this slab pumpkin pie, everyone gets a slice.
Nikki is a stay-at-home mom with four little ones in her care. I honestly can't imagine how much work that entails. Nevertheless, I know that I can always depend on her to have beautifully photographed and tested recipes to share. Like me, she's a self-taught cook. The name of her blog is "Chef in Training." I think it's time for her to delete the "training" moniker and call herself Chef because the meals she creates are stunning. (She posts a new recipe every day!)
Her strawberry cream pie is no exception. Nikki blind-bakes her pie crust in a sheet pan and then combines whipping cream and cream cheese for a rich, slightly tangy filling. Beautiful fresh strawberries are nestled on top and then drizzled with dark chocolate.
As I write this article, the blueberries and blackberries in my garden are calling to me—it's time to start picking. I don't really like having my fingers stained purple for days, but it's a small price to pay when in the end you can have a delicious pie such as this one from the kitchen of Julie.
If, by chance, you don't have access to fresh berries, don't worry. Julie's recipe for triple-berry slab pie (she uses blackberries, blueberries, and raspberries) relies on frozen berries from the supermarket. Yes, the crust can be a bit fussy to work with, but it all gets covered up with a lovely layer of berries and, when it's all baked, a dusting of powdered sugar can cover up (as she says) a "multitude of sins."
Recipes: Quiches and Savory Pies
The cooks in the Pillsbury kitchen have created a bacon-cheddar quiche large enough to feed a hungry group of people, and it takes only 20 minutes to assemble. They use chopped bacon, but you could substitute diced cooked ham, or crumbled sausage if you prefer. Steamed broccoli florets or spinach and red bell pepper would also make wonderful additions.
So, clean out the fridge, use whatever you have available and make this quiche your own.
Jess proclaims that cooking is her sport and the kitchen is her arena. She reads cookbooks "like they're the latest Harry Potter novel" and, given a chance to watch TV "there's a 99 percent chance it will be something on The Food Network."
Jess and I think alike. And I think you will enjoy her breakfast slab pie. Two pounds (that's not a typo) of breakfast sausage, spinach, bell peppers, and a dozen eggs are sandwiched between two supremely buttery, flaky layers of pie crust to create breakfast for a crowd.
Chicken Pot Pie
I found this recipe, which was the inspiration for this article, in the January/February 2019 issue of my Eating Well magazine. The classic chicken pot pie is super-sized to easily feed eight people. Because the recipe comes from Eating Well, you can be assured that it is tasty but healthy. One serving is only 484 calories.
I want you to take a good look at the above photo. Do you see all of those amazing thin, flaky layers of pastry? This slab pie doesn't rely on mere pie crust. You're looking at phyllo pastry—yes, the same pastry used to make baklava.
Jas was born and raised in Bosnia, and but now lives in the United States. She's the author of "Balkan Comfort Food" and the author/photographer/recipe developer for the blog "All That's Jas." Her goal is to demonstrate that comfort foods from around the world can be made simple and accessible while preserving their true flavors.
She was inspired by the cuisine of Italy for this dish. Jas fills a phyllo dough casing with Italian sausage, spinach, fennel, ricotta, and a rich marinara sauce.
Tex-Mex Frito Pie
For the uninitiated, a Frito pie is savory comfort food in a sack. Simply open a bag of Fritos, ladle in some chili, a sprinkle of cheese and a dollop of sour cream. Grab a spoon and go. It can't get easier unless you need to feed more than one person.
That's where this recipe, originally published by the Washington Post, comes to the rescue. The bottom layer of Fritos in a bag is replaced by cornbread, next chili spiked with chipotle, then a layer of cheese, and on top Frito chips. This Tex-Mex Frito slab pie makes a whopping 24 servings and is perfect for a backyard gathering.
Questions & Answers
© 2019 Linda Lum