Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Pie school

I spent the morning in remedial pie school. My mother, 85-year-old Bobbie Merrell,  claims she failed pastry in her high school home-ec class, but everybody says Mom's pie crust is the best ever. So this morning, as she was preparing a pumpkin pie and a blackberry pie for tomorrow's Thanksgiving feast. I paid extra close attention.
She uses one cup of flour, 1/3 cup Crisco, and 3 tablespoons of water for each crust. Today we were making three crusts, one for the pumpkin pie and two for the fruit pie, so she started off with three cups of flour and one cup of shortening.
Secret #1: sift the flour. We've become lazy about that over the years but Mom always sifts the flour. Otherwise you get too much she said.
Secret #2: Use cold shortening. Cold. Mom put it into the measuring cup and put it into the fridge. Then when she decided that wasn't cold enough she set it in the freezer for a few minutes.
Secret #3: Cut shortening into flour with a pastry blender until all the flour has a bit of the shortening. Mom's old pastry bender is different than mine and does a fantastic job.
Secret #4: Use cold water. Mom used water from the dispenser on the fridge. And she's a little stingy on the water. Her mixture looked too crumbly to me to roll out on the pastry cloth, and I would have been tempted to add more water but she said to do so would make it tough.

Secret #5: Work quickly, and don't overwork. Lickity split, mom took a handful of her crumbly dough, rolled it out and then made quick patches. Working the dough too much will make it tough too. It doesn't need to look pretty to be nice and flakey.

Of course, the best part comes tomorrow, after dinner, when we get to eat pie!

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