Because life without pie would not be as sweet, salty, buttery, or delicious.
"We must have pie. Stress cannot exist in the presence of a pie." David Mamet, from his play Boston Marriage, 1999
I love pie. Thinking about it, preparing, baking it, and, of course, eating it. It is one of the consistent pleasures in my life. When I'm not sure what to do with myself, baking a pie, especially with local fruit, never fails to ground me. And pies are suitable for all occasions, and flexible enough to accommodate many forms.
I came to pie baking as an adult and went through a lot of trial and error before finding my pie-happiness. I am an ordinary cook with no formal training who has always loved to bake. On this page I will share my recipes, and some from friends, and tips for making foolproof pies from start to finish. There is no need for pie fear!
Let's get started. First, the dreaded crust. I use an all-butter recipe which has the flavor and consistency of a tart crust. It rolls out so beautifully that you can roll the crust onto your roller to transfer it to the pie pan, just like they show in the cook books and on the cooking shows. It browns up nicely and tastes heavenly. I actually prefer it to the traditional crust, as do my taste testers, which have included a Culinary Institute grad. If you prefer a flakier crust, I'll refer you to Michele Stuart's recipe in Perfect Pies, which calls for Crisco.
All Butter Pie Crust
3 cups flour 1 T sugar 1 tsp. salt 1 cup unsalted butter (2 sticks) 1 egg 1 T distilled white vinegar 5 T light cream (or half and half) Crust dust (a la Gisene Bullock-Prado) 1 T flour plus 1 T sugar, mixed
In a food processor, pulse flour, sugar and salt until blended. Cut up each stick of butter into about 8 pieces. Add to flour mixture and pulse until mixture resembles coarse meal. Separate the egg and set aside the egg white. Whisk the yolk and vinegar together. Sprinkle yolk mixture onto flour mixture and pulse. With processor running, slowly pour in light cream, pulsing until mixture holds together.
Note: You do not need a food processor to make this crust. You can prepare it by hand using either two table knives or a pastry cutter to mix in the butter, then blending the liquids in with a fork, using a light hand.
Divide dough into two balls, one slightly larger than the other. Flatten into disks. (You can freeze the pie crust at this time.) Refrigerate smaller disk while you roll out the larger one into a circle larger than your pie dish. (Ex: roll a 15-inch circle for a 10-inch pie dish.) Roll onto your rolling pin and transfer to pie dish. Brush the inside of the crust (bottom and sides only) with the egg white. Allow it to dry before you fill the crust. Keep in the refrigerator until ready to use. Sprinkle the crust dust on the bottom of the crust before you fill it.
If you're preparing a lattice top pie, roll the smaller disk out into a rectangle to be cut into 10 strips. If you're preparing a covered pie, roll the disk into a round a little larger than the top of the pie dish.