Every year, my Mom makes a couple of pies for Thanksgiving and laments that the crust looks ragged — claiming that she could do better, if only she made pie more than once a year. Up until this year, I stayed away from the pie crust-making entirely, considering it way too crafty for my clumsy hands.
But somehow, this year, I wanted to overcome my crust-phobia. In spite of my love of Bisquick and better-cooking-through-chemistry attitude, I have tried those store-bought pre-made crusts and no, they don’t taste as good as homemade — not even close. My other inspiration for “Pie Academy” was a charming children’s book called Pie that included dozens of wonderful-sounding recipes for pie. The one thing that book didn’t tell you how to do was make crust. Too bad. That’s the hard part.
Looking back at my other entries on pie, you can see that I don’t know my crust. The holy grail of pie-making in our family were my Dad’s late Aunt Vi’s pies. Her pie was poetry but she was a Yankee lady of few words and I was too stupid to ask her show me how to make her pies before she died.
Instead, in our rootless culture, we have to resort to YouTube videos. I watched this one:
And then, I attempted to roll out some pie crust, even though I didn’t have the counter space that guy did, and it was better than my previous efforts. I think like most things you do with your hands, I do need much more practice, so watch this space for Pie Academy Part 2! Recipes to come as well…
This year we did apple with sort-of lattice, pecan traditional-style, and pumpkin to come…We used the Joy of Cooking for the apple pie and I used a recipe I found in one of our binders for pecan but the recipe on the Karo syrup is as good as anything!
We do have some pie-baking traditions. For instance, we are a Crisco family, even before the lactose-intolerance reared its ugly head. The crust is flakier and easier to deal with when you use Crisco. One of our pies was Crisco (stick) but I made a dough with Earth Balance for the pecan and it was delicious! Yes, we already tried the pecan pie. It was an emergency. We had accidentally used salted, roasted pecans instead of plain nuts in the recipe, Aunt Donna was visiting and pecan pie is her favorite…You get the idea. We only took a couple of slices! Three pies for seven people is still pretty good odds. You don’t need butter to make good pie, thank goodness.
Here’s the apple. Bet it tastes great, even though it’s pretty homely. Will let you know.