"She refused to be bored, chiefly because she wasn't boring." Zelda Fitzgerald

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Pie Secrets

 Just making and eating pie again, as is my usual custom this time of year. It seems like pie would be a great thing to make in winter when it is cold (and it is, if you freeze or can some of the summer fruit!) but I seem to mostly make it in warm weather when the bushes and trees are dripping with fruit and all hands are stained with juice. I love pie. Passionately. You can keep your cake...I'll stick with pie.
 I was busily making pies this week and then eating pies and think to myself about a small correction or two that I owe the pie making section of my blog audience. A while back I shared my favorite pie making cookbook and typed up the recipe I always use for blueberry pie.
 Well, a good friend used that recipe to make a pie and was much disgruntled to find that it sank down a very slumped in, and pale version of itself and came marching back to me to ask exactly why her pie didn't look anything like mine even though she'd used my recipe.
 I am my mother's daughter. I use recipes but I am also not afraid to experiment, and sometimes do so without my conscious or deliberate thought, even habitually. Can you believe that of me?
The hitch with my pie making is that I discovered in my newlywed pie making days that any standard recipe seems to yield those sort of sunken results and so requires tweaking. I follow the recipe's suggestions for sugar and thickening agent (usually cornstarch) but I pour in far more fruit than anyone would advise. They say, for instance, to add 3 1/2 cups of blueberries? I put in 6-8 cups. Pies should be teeteringly piled with fruit, so much so that the crust is required to hold it all in, because during the baking everything will shrink and compact and a bit of evaporation will occur. Always add more fruit. Add as much fruit as you can practically manage to squeeze in. Truly.

Another thing I always change in my pie recipes is the amount of water in the crust. Invariably recipes suggest far too little water for me to be able to get it to work. I just add water in tiny amounts...say a tablespoon or two at a time until I am able to get a dough to form. It is easy to go to far so go slow, and try to stir briskly and minimally in order to avoid making your dough tough, but I often end up adding as much as a half a cup of water. I just keep dribbling it in until the dough behaves.

So, there are my secret pie confessions....go forth and make pastry!

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