a/k/a The World’s Ugliest Pie
Okay, so maybe not the ugliest, certainly tasted good, but the debate on whether making your own pie crust continues.
My grandmother’s were both wonderful cooks and bakers, especially my mother’s mother. But, I never saw her make a pie crust – she liked Oranoak Orchards.
My mother is a wonderful cook and baker – we never had a cookie from a package, didn’t realize pizza could be bought in a store until we were close to 10, and she made cakes, pies and breads every weekend. I never saw my mother make a pie crust either – she liked Oranoak Orchards as well.
Being one steeped in tradition, it should come as no surprise that I have never made a pie crust. I have never felt the need or been moved to do so. I bake cookies and breads and pies and cakes and muffins – even making English Muffins one snowy Saturday to avoid having to go to the store to buy them. But pie crust? Why? Is a pie really about the crust or about the filling? To me, the answer is definitely the filling. A great pie crust and yucky filling really isn’t going to make a great pie.
And then one day a friend and I were talking about making pie crusts and while she is going on and on about the virtues of homemade crust (and my eyes glazing over in disagreement) she made the ginormous mistake of telling me I probably could but would never make one. Sigh. Hello? Have we met?
So, that, my dear friends, is what brings me to my tale of woe, the ugly-but-yummy pie and the continuing debate on pie crust.
I turned to my trusty friend Martha Stewart and the Martha Stewart Baking Handbook for a fool-proof (see me – the fool – waving?) pate brisee.
There aren’t a lot of ingredients. It isn’t the ingredients that make it difficult, it’s the directions – pulse until it looks like coarse meal, add enough water so it comes together.
- 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, chilled and cut into small pieces
- 1/4 cup ice water
NOTE: After I cut up the butter, I put it back in the fridge to get super cold.
In the bowl of a food processor, combine flour, salt, and sugar. Add butter, and process until the mixture resembles coarse meal, 8 to 10 seconds.
With machine running, add ice water in a slow, steady stream through feed tube. Pulse until dough holds together without being wet or sticky; be careful not to process more than 30 seconds. To test, squeeze a small amount together: If it is crumbly, add more ice water, 1 tablespoon at a time.
NOTE: If you haven’t done the above before you really have NO clue what any of those things mean. At least Martha added pictures.
Divide dough into two equal balls. Flatten each ball into a disc and wrap in plastic. Transfer to the refrigerator and chill at least 1 hour. Dough may be stored, frozen, up to 1 month.
Now, no one, in any book, any where, tells you that when you take these disks out of the fridge an hour pater they are going to be like weapons of mass destruction! They are absolutely hard as rocks. Now what? You can’t roll them, you can’t move them.
I walked away for about 5 minutes hoping that upon my return I would be able to flatten these frisbees of death into a flaky pie crust. Truth be told, I wasn’t holding out much hope.
But, 5 minutes later, I was able to start rolling the crust. A little flour on my board, a little on the rolling pin. The next thing they don’t tell you? This is not going to be pretty. You see TV chefs rolling out dough and it’s a perfect circle. This was anything BUT a perfect circle. Still, I persevered. This seemed to go from too cold to too warm VERY quickly.
I finally rolled something that appeared to be circle-ish. Rolled it onto my roller and out into the pie plate. It stuck on itself a bit, but I managed, and besides, this is the bottom crust. It doesn’t have to be pretty. It just can’t turn to mush.
While I made a filling of peaches and blueberries, I left the top crust in the fridge. The filling was the simplest part. I cut up about 2 pounds of peaches, tossed in a pint of blueberries, some sugar, lemon juice and cornstarch and mixed it all up.
The top crust was difficult to roll as well, but this one is the money shot, the part everyone will look at. It was sticking and ripping and terrible. I managed to cover the pie, having to make patches of scraps here and there. Please at least let it taste good after all of this work and anxiety baking pleasure. I sprinkled some demarra sugar on top as a Hail Mary play and shoved the pie in the oven, hoping for the best.
Okay, it isn’t the prettiest pie in the place. But it is tasty. The crust needed a bit of sugar. The bottom crust was what impressed me the most, even a day later it’s still holding up.
IF there is a next time, I’ll add a tablespoon of sugar. I am not sure though if there will be a next time. Maybe a one more next time, but definitely not more than that, unless I wake up bored out of mind one weekend morning and cannot leave the house to buy one. This might have to be chalked up to one of those learning experiences. As I said from the beginning, if Oranoak Orchards has been good enough for 2 generations of women in my family it’s good enough for me!
So I can, I have, but the question remains, will I ever again!