Friday, November 26, 2010

Battle With the Pies

We had a lovely Thanksgiving. We began the day with Mass at our home parish and then rushed home to start making pies. I thought I was ahead of the curve, as I had prepared pie crusts on Tuesday and they were patiently awaiting being rolled out. Taking the first crust from the fridge, I could tell immediately there was something wrong. As I attempted to roll, the pastry crumbled and there was no salvaging it. Argh!

Quickly, Skoshi A and I assembled the Nantucket Pie and popped it in the oven. We then turned our attention to making a new batch of pie dough. I should have known there was something not quite right about the recipe--7 tablespoons of shortening and 11 tablespoons of chilled butter to 2.5 cups of flour does not seem like a correct ratio and the blob of soft gooey dough confirmed my suspicions. I added enough flour to change the texture to a crumble and then added the needed ice water to form the ball of dough, flattened the pastry into disks, wrapped them and popped them into the freezer to chill as we turned to making fillings for the remainder of the pies.

My sous chefs made or helped make the fillings and within half an hour we were ready to roll crusts once again. The dough wasn't too dry this time around, but it was a bit soft so I rolled it between two sheets of parchment paper and attempted to ease the 1st crust into the pie pan. It was a complete disaster and fell apart and tore. Into the trash went the second crust. With only one ball of dough left and two pies still awaiting crust, it was time to improvise. As I'd decided to try a graham cracker crust for the pumpkin pie, I thought I could always do the same for the pecan pie. Skoshi A crushed crackers and pecans for this particular crust, we assembled the pie, and we were back on track. With an hour and a half left before "show time" we had three pies in the oven and just the cherry pie to go. I very gingerly rolled the over soft dough in to a thin disk, carefully eased it into the plate. Some tearing did occur, but I trimmed the excesses dough from the edges and made repairs. The edge looked pretty ragged but I had a trick up my sleeve to salvage that. Taking leftover dough I rolled two long snakes and placed them around the top of the crust, pinching and sealing and fluting. The unbaked shell looked very pretty. Normally with a cherry pie, I like to make a lattice top, but I was out of dough. Why not try a streusel topping for the cherry pie? Stat nut makes a delicious streusel for his muffins so I had him whip up that recipe for the pie. 4 pies in the ovens, Nantucket pie comes out and in goes the sweet potato casserole a la Stat nut. Karate Kid tosses together a quick and lovely dressing and into the oven, beneath two pies it goes.

It was a stressful afternoon in the kitchen, but by 2:40 we were ready to roll. Everything was still hot and needed to be packed and transported carefully, but we made it. Dinner was absolutely delicious. Our hostess really knows how to roast a turkey and she makes the absolute best mashed potatoes and gravy. The kids' dishes were a huge hit and the pies turned out to be truly delicious, if not beautiful. The Nantucket Pie was perfect. The pumpkin pie made with goat's milk instead of cream turned out great and tasted heavenly. The cherry pie with streusel topping was really yummy, although it really could have used about 10 more minutes in the oven. The pecan pie with improvised crust was the biggest hit, even though it was so gooey and sticky it completely fused to the side of the plate, and was nearly impossible to remove, making the slices pretty messy and ugly. It was the one pie that did not have any leftover at the end of the evening.

Pie crust is definitely not my forte. I think making the perfect pastry dough is an art that one must work at and develop over time. I may need to practice more over Advent until I'm satisfied with the results. I'm sure the family won't mind in the least.
Print Friendly and PDF


Natalie said...

My friend Mike made the best pies I've ever had. He said he used a half vodka/half water recipe. The vodka bakes out making the crusts nice and flaky. I've already requested the recipe and I'll have to post them once he gets them to me.

Katie said...

I made the same pumpkin pie for Thanskgiving and it was a huge hit! The whole fmaily loved it! Thanks for the recipie.

Michelle said...

I, too, have not yet managed the art of pie crust making. This year, I supported the women's bible study and bought their pies instead of fussing over my own.

Walt said...

Hey Mau,


Love Ya Mau,