Tuesday, August 4, 2009

But Can She Bake A Pie?

She can now!

I never imagined this, but I can now make a very respectable pie crust.

I’m not sure that qualifies me as a honest-to-goodness baker just yet, or even a respectable one. But I am ready, willing and NOW ABLE to tackle some actual pies, with actual filling.

Perhaps I have developed a oneness with the pie universe and a feel for pie crust?

Better stop that kind of thinking, before I get The Big Head and decide I can bake cakes and Alaska.

OK, I will admit an ever-so-slight nod to the conventions of baking, like following the pie crust directions as written. Maybe that's it, but my money is still on some magical chemical reaction with the egg and vinegar! Who knew?

Anyway, I have reached the conclusion that, with a good crust, pies are a little more forgiving and allow for a little more creativity than other baked goods -- none of which I am very good at, and all of which I find just a little stifling in their need for strict adherence to ratios and rules.

A good pie crust can be filled with an infinite range of fruits, nuts and gooey stuff and still be edible, with a large margin for error. I like that!

Things don't "set up" just right -- slather it with whipped cream or drop some ice cream on top and call it cobbler . . . or buckle . . . or crumble . . . or crisp . . . or pandowdy . . . or any of those other terms that spell pie-baking mishap, but still taste so good.

But if it has a nice tender flaky crust and some redeeming sugary gooey stuff inside, they'll eat it up. A pie by any other name still tastes so sweet.

Not so with cakes. Start fiddling around with that stuff, the baking universe goes tilt and the whole thing falls into the disaster zone -- AKA the garbage. Open the oven at the wrong time or slam the oven door shut and you've got yourself some pancakes that no amount of IHOP-esque, frou-frou whipped cream sculpture can salvage.

I guess all I really needed was the recipe for a good pie crust and I’m ready to bake, rock and roll. Making pies satisfies my desire for both baking and playing with my food!

And even if I don’t become a famous pie baker -- and that is unlikely, so Marie Callender can rest easy -- I know I have one very dependable egg and vinegar pie crust recipe in my hip pocket to pull out whenever I feel like it, or when fresh fruit is practically falling off the trees.

I feel good about that. Pie is comfort food.

DR's Mother's Pie Crust
4 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups Crisco
2 tsp. kosher salt
1 egg
1 tbsp. vinegar
½ c. water

In a bowl, blend flour, Crisco and salt with a pastry blender, or two knives, until crumbly. Stir together egg, vinegar and water; add to flour mixture and blend. Shape dough into two equal-size disks; wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before rolling out. Makes two double crust pies.


Kristen said...

I've written many times on my blog about how pie crust is my nemisis. I'll have to give your recipe a try! Congrats on being able to cook AND bake a pie :)

Grant said...

I look forward to, and somewhat expect, a pumpkin pie for Thanksgiving. That, and your famous canned cranberry sauce made just for me, no chunks.

Cora said...

Kristen, let me know if the pie crust works for you. I was surprised it did AND tasted so good too!

Grant, you know Dad makes the pumpkin pie, but I'll try to teach him how to make the crust. That should be fun! Someday your tastes will yearn for the delicious homemade Brandied Cranberry Sauce like your dear mother makes.

nckitkat said...

mmmm, I have been craving baked Alaska, and I won't tell you how many years it has been since I made-ONE-... how about THAT recipe? :-)

drdr said...

DR's mother will be very happy to see her pie crust recipe become famous!

Alanna said...

Congratulations! Making good pie crust is worth seeking out. I lost my pie crust finesse a few years ago but got it back -- you might try the tips for Flaky Tender Pie Crust, including the long list of tips and photos in the accompanying post that's linked there.

Cora said...

Thanks Alanna! Further proof there is a pie crust recipe out there that will work for everyone.

Anonymous said...

Congrats! I'm impressed. I'm still pie crust challenged and I buy the premade crusts. However, I can make a cake with my eyes closed.

Cora said...

JyLnC, I admire anyone who can make a cake without the assistance of Duncan Hines!

Christine said...

Nice recipe! It's very similar to the one my mother made years ago. I don't use shortening anymore, but your pie dough sure takes me back to my mother's kitchen. Thanks, Cora!

Debra said...

Cora, the only pie crust I ever made was the Betty Crocker one - & the local Philadelphia Electric Kitchen cooking maven Florence Hanford (who seduced me LONG before Julia, but was like John the Baptist...) said that the crisco had to be incorporated into the flour until the whole formed size of small peas - & I did that forever & my pie crusts were to die for UNTIL I HAD DOGS!!! And after that there was no keeping the hair out of the pea sized crumbs....

And so I get my piecrusts prepared outside the home - & in the rare very very rare moment that I think I can do a better job than Mrs Callendar....& that is not often! I shove that impulse down & buy a many berry pie or whatever Mrs C is slogging....

Sandie said...

"Can she bake a cherry pie, Billy Boy, Billy Boy? Can she bake a cherry pie, charming Billy?"

Sorry...couldn't resist! ;) You have now opened a whole new world of pie unto you---how exciting! With Crisco in this recipe, I can just imagine how tender & flaky a crust this recipe produces.

Have fun baking! And wouldn't you know...it's just about cherry pie time!

Cora said...

Even though I COULD bake an outstanding cherry pie now that I have THE pie crust, my neighbor, DR (daughter of the pie crust mother) is in Michigan visiting this weekend and is bringing me a cherry pie from Grand Traverse Pie Company. Yes!

BMK said...

I have never been able to make a pretty pie. Yours looks absolutely perfect.