Pie School, that is.
Several years ago, a friend of mine confided in me that she was really nervous to bake a pie that she would be sharing with other, more accomplished pie bakers. She was, in particular, worried about the crust–she’d heard rumors that one of these other pie bakers could make the perfect crust. Now, I know from experience (okay, experiences…) that my friend is no slouch in terms of baking–or cooking in general, for that matter–so I was perplexed and dismissive of her worry. I didn’t get why she would be concerned about it when, in the end, we all knew the pie would be good enough.
After baking my first two pies, I get it.
With me, it’s not so much worry, since I’m sharing the baked goods with a captive audience who is 1) fond of dessert, 2) often hungry, and 3) legally bound by marriage to me and therefore must eat what I bake (it was in the vows). It’s more of a strong desire to keep making pies–better pies–and that means better crusts. I’m finding it’s not so simple as I previously thought; there are any number of pie crust recipes, using mostly the same ingredients but with small differences in the amounts, some additions, some substitutions. All of those little differences make for crusts that have varying characteristics. Theoretically, these recipes should make for pie crusts that are perfectly good. It’s not just the recipe you have to worry about, though, it’s how you put the ingredients together. How cold is your water, and how do you add it to the dry mix? Mixing by hand, or in a mixer? How are you adding your butter into the mix–literally, how are you rubbing the butter and dry ingredients together, and for how long? Chilling the dough, rolling the dough–there are so many variations on this process and the techniques. Yes, most of these crusts will taste good. BUT–will they be perfectly browned, with the right amount of bite? Will they have tender layers and not crumble apart, but still have nice flakiness?
I’m just a newbie at this. First crust was a bust, second was much better (not beautiful, but tasty). Both have been apple. I’m going to do a couple more tries on a basic crust and fruit pie, then maybe move on to something slightly more adventurous…I’m thinking the gouda and pear pie in Kate Lebo’s Pie School. If you want your own piece of the action, head to the 641.8652s, find a book, and get in the kitchen.