August 4, 2009
But Can She Bake A Pie?
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 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.
Posted by Cora at 2:16 PM