Monday, February 11, 2013

Making a Pie, part 1

Pie-making is not one of my natural talents.  For many years, a wedding cake with three tiers and fountains was less daunting than a pie.

My first foray into pie making occurred when I was about 14 and wanted to try something new.  It was so easy I couldn't understand why people spent years mastering them.  It was only after trying to eat my rhubarb-filled wonder that I discovered that the recipe had I doubled for the two pies was already for two pies.  Talk about your sturdy crust.

Later I found pie making truly a tricky matter.  It was further disheartening to watch my grandma casually toss some flour and lard in a bowl and effortlessly make perfect pies.  And she did it without whining about the sticky dough that wouldn't roll without tearing, threatening the household that it better appreciate this pie or blaming the humidity for another crust disaster.

I eventually married someone who loves pie--in other words, a typical man.  (Why do they all like pie so much?)  I earned double good-wife points a few times a year when I set aside all my work and projects for a day to make something resembling a pie.

My standard procedure included using lots and lots of flour to keep the dough from sticking to the parchment paper where I rolled the dough.  (The tough crust that resulted was the least of my problems.)  I would then freeze the rolled-out dough so that I could easily peel it off the paper and lay it frozen across the top of the pie pan.  After it thawed, I would pat it down into the pan.  All that freezing and thawing took so long that I scoured my cookbooks for one-crust pies.  Captain Awesome eventually noticed that he rarely got an apple, peach, or rhubarb or other two-crust pie.


One day I shared my woes with my mother-in-law (a pie whiz) and she suggested that I chill my dough overnight.  About the same time, I found a piece of canvas meant for rolling pie dough, along with a "sock" to put over the rolling pin.  Chilling the dough has made all the difference in the world and if you can locate the baker's canvas, I highly recommend it.  It makes it easy to manuever the dough into the pan and is washable (reusable!).

See?!  A pie crust that's not a leaky, patchwork, pressed-into-the-pan, sad excuse of a crust.

Next post, my crust recipe and a finished pie....

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