The Art of Pie


Technique Is Only Half The battle

It was a wise woman who once said, to make a perfect pie, make a pie every day. This is the key, the technique is only half the battle, practice makes perfect.

The Nitty Gritty

Ask, "what do you want from a pie?", and people will recite like school children, a tender, flaky crust.But let me add a little to that answer. From a pie, you want a crust that holds up. It should have that classic old-fashioned look when served. It should taste like grandmas or the local pie shop.

Simple, Right?

Not exactly. Making a pie is about technique, but let's start with the nuts and bolts, the ingredients.I'm going to say it because there is no getting around it, you need lard or shortening. If you want the proper combination of flaky and tender, you must start with the right stuff. Once you're over your shock and have purchased the shortening, put it in the freezer. Keep it cold for pie making.

Don't Go To Extremes

Bread flour will make your crust tough, pastry flour will make it delicate and hard to roll. If you don't know what to buy, mix pastry and all purpose flour together. Remember pie is rustic but not tough.You Will Need:A rolling pin,Three, mid-size bowls.Pie pans (You can't steal the old ones from preformed pie crusts. Your days of preformed are over!)Wax paper2 ½ c. of flour¾ c. Shortening (Chilled)1 cup of ice waterLemon juiceSaltSugarFilling5 c of berries (frozen will do fine)¾ c. of sugar3 tbs. cornstarchButter or margarine.

Now Begin

Fill a cup of ice, add water, squeeze in lemon juice. Set aside.Put flour, a dash of salt and a ½ tsp of sugar, in a medium bowl. Mix dry ingredients together.                                Add chilled shortening. With a pastry cutter or a fork, cut the shortening into the flour. This means breaking the lard into tiny grain-sized balls mixed with flour. When you're done, your mix should look like rice.Add ice water slowly, stirring the mixture with your hands until the flour is integrated, you do not need to use all the water, just enough to combine.

Have Do We Achieved Perfection?

If done right, you'll know, long before you bake the pie that it's flaky. The dough will be firm enough to pick up, without crumbling, and when you break it, like a flaky biscuit, you can see the layers.Divide the dough in two. Put each dough ball in the fridge or the freezer.

Time To Make The Filling

I grew my own blueberries before a tornado took down my bushes, -curse you summer storms! - Now I must resort to store bought berries. It doesn't matter what variety you use, fresh or frozen, to each their own.Place berries in a medium-sized bowl. If frozen do not defrost.Add ¾ c sugar, and 3 tbsp cornstarch to berries. Toss the berries, until coated.

Rolling Out The Dough

On a flat, sturdy work area, lay out a layer of wax paper, large enough for a pie.Coat with flour, *alternatively I use powdered sugar for sweet pies.Use another piece of wax paper, of equal size, set on top of the dough.Roll the dough flat, pushing your roller away from you. Turn the pie shell on the wax paper, move the dough, not the roller. Roll three times, then turn and so on until flat

Forget Perfection

You don't need the dough to look right. It just needs to be the right size.Once your crust is thin enough, remove the top layer of wax paper. Set your pie pan, top down on the crust, then place your hand under the wax paper and flip over pan crust and all. Your crust should be laying in your pie dish. Remove wax paper and spread the crust evenly over the whole pan, making firm contact with the sides. Trim away any edges that hang over.Poke a few holes in the bottom of the crust with a fork.Fill the crust with your berries, and dot the top with a tbsp of butter, broken into pieces. If you're making a top crust, skip this step, but save the butter you'll need it later.

Top Crust

Repeat the rolling process, with the second dough ball. I will give techniques for decorations in another article. If you want a fast option, use a fork and make a latticework design. This time you can't lay the pan over the crust for the and flip it over, so you will have to carefully remove the dough and lay it onto the pie, hopefully without incident.Melt the butter and a little sugar together then paint the top crust with it.Place in a 350° oven for 35 to 45 minutes. When the filling is bubbling, it's done. If you have a shell over the top, it will turn a golden brown when done.You've made a successful pie if it doesn't look perfect, make another tomorrow.