No humble pie here. These pies were delicious, crust and all
I’ve always thought the term “easy as pie” is a little misleading. Sure, pie can be simple in its wholesome goodness and uncluttered deliciousness, and the steps in making it are fairly easy. But there are a lot of them — steps, that is — and making a pie from scratch is a multi-hour affair.
So worth it, though.
Co-worker Melinda Mawdsley and I joke about the “so worth it” tag all the time, usually as it’s applied to near-impossible hikes or other Herculean adventures, but I contend that homemade pie is, indeed, so worth it. And Melinda hadn’t made one since she was about 10.
(Melinda here: I was NOT 10. I was 11. The joy I got from the pie unit in Home Economics left such an impression that I haven’t bothered to try since I last played with Barbies.)
“Melinda, we need to make some pies,” I informed her recently. “And I’m talking crusts from scratch. None of this store-bought crust business. The preservatives!” Granted, I said this as I was guzzling diet soda, which is pretty much liquid preservatives, but I have to draw the line somewhere. Plus, I’m a hypocrite.
(That was a dig at me. Rachel knows that I represent the American who buys pre-made pie crusts. Actually, that’s a lie. I’m the American who buys the pre-made and pre-baked pie.)
So, deciding that August is officially Pie Season, we turned to Pinterest for our next Creative Endeavors project and were pointed to Mountain Fresh Peach Pie (foodiecrush.com/2012/09/mountain-fresh-peach-pie-recipe) and Favorite Fresh Raspberry Pie (tasteofhome.com/recipes/favorite-fresh-raspberry-pie).
Melinda wanted peach pie because peaches are in season (and I love them), and I wanted raspberry pie because raspberries were on sale at Safeway and, more importantly, because raspberry pie is mentioned in a funny scene in “The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society,” a book I’ve read probably 15 times, I love it so much.
We recruited our editor, Ann Wright, who graciously offered to host pie making night at her home. (Actually, Ann overheard us talking about baking pies and insisted upon hosting. She loves to bake and cook from scratch. She even has an apron.)
Baby-stepping our way into the exciting world of pies, we made Ann’s Savory Summer Pie recipe for practice. The crust is the simplest one out there — Crisco, flour, water — so Ann could guide Melinda in the finer points of crust making: using a pastry blender, not over-mixing, flouring the counter before rolling it out.
While they did that, I had time to ponder rites of passage. Making a pie crust is one, I think. It’s an entry point into the world of Being Able to Cook, a sort of secret handshake with others who understand the mysteries of flakiness. I figure that when Billy Boy is being interrogated about the young thing who cannot leave her mother, about whether she can make a cherry pie, the question really is whether she can make the crust.
In the midst of my reverie, Melinda asked me what I was doing. She was elbow-deep in flour, I was leaning against the counter.
Oh, very well. I got started on the pie insides.
Mixing up pie fillings is the easy part of pie, I think, so the most labor-intensive part of our night o’ pies was peeling the peaches. Our recipe called for orange zest in the crust, which turned out to be delicious, and orange juice and zest in the filling, which overwhelmed the delicate peach taste, unfortunately. Making pie is nothing if not a learning experience.
We baked the pies one at a time, bending over to peer into the oven as they slowly turned golden brown. They were lovely.
Though our one-at-a-time baking method meant we didn’t actually eat the pies until after 9 p.m. — long after Ann had put her 3- and 5-year-old children to bed — the wait was richly rewarded. The raspberry pie was tart and sweet and very nearly perfect, its crust flaky and light and a testament to Melinda’s quick learning.
And even though the orange overshadowed the peach in that pie, it still tasted good. Plus, the crust was a triumph.
(I would like it documented that I had a large hand in making THREE successful pie crusts. Yes, Ann watched over me and took the rolling pin away from me at one point, but she gave it back. Making pie crust from scratch wasn’t difficult. It was just time-consuming. With that said, homemade pie crusts taste better than store-bought ones. My husband said the peach pie crust was the best pie crust he’s ever had.)
So, overall? Pinterest win, and easy as pie.