Pie. The mere mention of the word would make me break into a sweat. Why? Not because they don’t taste good, because they do, but because they have scared me. Scared me so bad that I have avoided making them for years. If I had to make a pie (or had a craving I had to satisfy), I bought store-made crusts. That was the way I made pie. Pies are tricky. The dough is finicky and if you don’t work with it quite right, many things could go wrong. And of course then, your whole pie is ruined.
Today, my friend called me up and said he had a potluck to go to and he was the designated dessert-bringer. He asked me, if I had time today and he paid me, if I would make a dessert he could bring. Sure, I said, without hesitation. What would you like?
I don’t know, he said. Something fruity. Hmmm…I got to work thinking about what I’ve made before that was successful and didn’t take up my whole afternoon. How about strawberry-rhubarb pie? It’s the end of the summer and it’d be perfect! (Of course, I blurted it out without really thinking.) That sounds great, he said. I’ll be by at 5 to pick it up.
It took me a minute to realize what I had just said. Why in the world did I say I’d make a pie?! Out of all the “fruity” desserts out there, and the many I’ve made, why did pie come to mind? Well, obviously I hadn’t put my mind to work because I just blurted it out, and now I had to figure out a way out of this mess. And then I remembered something. Something I bought on a whim. Something that could help me out today. Oh, thank heaven!
I excitedly ran into the kitchen and pulled this out. Yup, my new lifesaver–cloth.
I followed the directions and rubbed 1/2 cup of flour into the cloth.
I then set to work on making the crust. I had my husband go out to the grocery store and buy me a pre-made crust, just in case I messed up. Just in case. It’s good to have a back-up when you don’t know what you’re doing. I added the dry ingredients and then the cold butter and shortening. Using a pastry blender worked well to incorporate the butter and shortening into the dry ingredients. (You could use your hands too–get a little dirty!)
Work the dough enough to get bite-size pieces.
Add the water, just to incorporate it a bit more, and “fluff” it with a fork. You don’t want the dough too wet or too dry.
To know if the dough is ready to be rolled out, squeeze about 1/4 of the dough into your hand. If the ball holds, it’s ready to be rolled out.
This cloth was so great, it told me how far to roll it out to make my 9-inch pie. I love it when there’s a cheat-sheet!
Work the dough from the middle out, with gentle, smooth strokes. You don’t want to work it too much, otherwise it’ll be too tough. And no one likes crust like that.
When the dough is to the right size, fold it in half, and then half again, so it’s 1/4 the original size. It’s easier to transfer to the pie plate this way.
Now you add the filling ingredients, and then fold in the fruit. Pour into the unbaked pie shell.
Now for the crumb topping. Mix the flour, brown sugar, oats, and cold butter, until it’s crumbly. Then sprinkle it on top of the pie.
Bake it for about 45 minutes, and you have perfect pie. Enjoy!
from Paula Philips, allrecipes.com
1 cup sugar
2 tablespoons flour
1 teaspoon vanilla
3/4 pound fresh rhubarb, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
1 pint strawberries, halved
3/4 cup flour
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup quick-cooking oats
1/2 cup cold butter
1. In a large mixing bowl, beat egg. Add the sugar, flour and vanilla; mix well. Gently fold in rhubarb and strawberries. Pour into pastry shell.
2. For topping, combine flour, brown sugar and oats in a small bowl; cut in butter until crumbly. Sprinkle over fruit. Bake at 400 degrees for 10 minutes. Reduce heat to 350 degrees for 35 minutes or until golden brown and bubbly. Cool on a wire rack.
for a 9-inch pie–recipe from my fantastic grandmother
1 cup flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons cold butter, cut in chunks
3 tablespoons cold solid shortening, cut in chunks
1. In a bowl, mix 1 cup flour and salt. Add butter and shortening. With a pastry blender or your fingers, cut in the fats with your fingers until the largest pieces are pea-size.
2. Sprinkle 2 tablespoons water over the flour mixture. Stir with a fork just until evenly moistened. Gently squeeze about 1/4 cup of the dough into a ball; if it won’t hold together, crumble the lump back into the bowl and sprinkle with more water, 1 tablespoon at a time; stir with a fork until evenly moistened.
3. With lightly floured hands, gently squeeze the dough into a ball. Pat dough into a 4-inch wide round, pressing to make edges smooth.
4. Lay dough on a lightly floured surface. Coat a rolling pin with flour. Roll firmly but gently in short strokes from the center of the dough outward to form an 11-inch-wide round. If edges split while rolling, push them back toward the center to make the round relatively smooth. Occasionally lift dough or turn over, dusting flour beneath to prevent sticking.
5. Fold the dough round in half, lift it gently without stretching, and lay the folded edge across the middle of a 9-inch pie pan. Unfold and ease dough into the pan without stretching. Trim the dough edge evenly about 3/4 inch beyond pan rim.