Monday, September 8, 2008

Pie. Pie? PIE!

If you asked me to name my favorite things, my really super duper favorite things, I would likely name chocolate, bacon (really any pork products), cheese (except for blue cheese but especially mascarpone and fresh mozzarella), Nutella, and PIE.

I love pie. It's Heaven in a crust. There is just something about pie that makes people happy. Maybe it's the effort that goes into a homemade pie. Rolling out a crust and prepping fruit, or cooking custards aren't simple processes. Maybe it's pie's association with all things homey and patriotic ("American as apple pie"). I'm not sure what it is for me. I just love baking and eating pie. I love the contrast of crust against filling; the crunch of the crust against the squoosh of the cream, or the spicyness of the fruit.

The question is, do I love pie as much as these guys?

If you asked me what my favorite kind of pie is, I would really have to think about it. For cream pies do I prefer coconut over banana (and shouldn't chocolate trump them both)? I can never really be sure if my favorite fruit pie is cherry or blueberry. The only kinds of pies I don't like are mince, pumpkin, sweet potato, and shoofly. I'll eat most other kinds happily as long as they're good, tasty, well-made pies.

I've been baking pies since I was about 15 years old. For as long as I have been baking pies, I have been making my own crusts.

One would think I would be good at it by now.

Here is my problem. I can usually get a pretty good consistency on my pie crusts, but I can't get a good LOOKING pie crust. I just don't get how some people manage to roll out a perfectly intact, symmetrical, and beautifully crimped piecrust. My piecrusts are crooked and jumbled. They end up pieced together in the pie plate because I can rarely get the crust in the plate without breaking it. Adding the filling covers a multitude of sins of course and the rest just gets tucked and crimped, but my crimping is hardly beautiful either.

(I'm convinced every pie maker in this world secretly swaps out a ready-made piecrust. I just know it!) ;-)

I've learned that it's okay to add a little more water to the dough, which seems to help. I have also discovered the magic of silicone rolling mats, which make the dough much easier to rotate when rolling, and also easier to peel off the rolling surface to put it in the plate. Still my crusts are always a bit "rustic".

Anyway, I'll get to the point of this post. Depsite making a blueberry-peach galette and blueberry crumble bars this summer, I am still craving blueberry pie. Would you believe that despite my love of blueberry pie, I have never actually made one for myself?

Six people in my office are celebrating a birthday this week. I decided to celebrate this fact and indulge my craving and make a blueberry pie of my own.

Since Sweet Treat of the Week season is officially over, I didn't steal anyone's blog recipe, but used this one on Epicurious. I chose this recipe because it has a cornmeal crust, and we all know that I need to get rid of a lot of excess cornmeal from the kitchen overstock. (I didn't make the lemon cream though.)

Kevin and I had been out all day riding in (him) and volunteering for (both of us) horse trials at our barn all day, and then I insisted on stopping at the farm stands, so we got home on the late side. I wanted to get the pie started right away so I wouldn't be up all night baking, so I told him to go ahead and take a shower first. I'd start the piecrust and put the groceries away and get the berries prepped for the filling. I would shower while everything chilled. Actually, what I really said was, "I'll prep everything first and take a shower while everything has a change to refrigerate, and macerate and masticate and masturbate." Yep. I went there.

Rolling it out. Not bad. Have I mentioned how much I love this mat?

I am giving my readers a rare glimpse of something I don't normally let people see: my unfilled, raw piecrust. Note the multiple patch jobs

In go the berries. They macerated with sugar, lemon, cornstarch, and a little water.

Top crust goes on. Crimping sort of hides the sins beneath of a torn and ragged edge

Fresh hot pie out of the oven. There was a little blueberry leakage, but otherwise not bad.

So how did my first blueberry pie taste?

I thought it needed to be sweeter. That seems to be a curse for me this summer.

People were reluctant to try it at the office, although I made a note when I left it in the kitchen that it was meant to honor the birthdays of my six coworkers. Everyone thought that was very sweet of me. It still took a good two hours for someone to come along and cut it. I got glowing reviews from those who tried it, but I'm not sure any of the birthday people actually tried it.

I'm using up some more ingredients from the cabinet overstock tonight. Stay tuned...


Dee said...

We share favourite things - I too am not overly fond of blue cheese :)

So your pie looks amazing! And I'm drooling over the mountain of berries filled in. I'd have to remortgage the house to afford something like that here :(

Honestly, I'd take blueberries over easily accessible kaffir lime leaves. By the way, you can sub a little grated lime peel in a pinch. And if you do ever spot the leaves, buy and freeze.

noble pig said...

Why would no one try it? What's wrong with these people? I would have happily cut into it and eaten the whole thing!

StickyGooeyCreamyChewy said...

I love rustic. Rustic is great! And, so is your blueberry pie. It looks like it was made with love by a real person - not a machine!

Emiline said...

What ever are you talking about?! That is a fabulous looking pie! I think you're being a bit hard on yourself.

Wait?! What was the fruit doing in the fridge? Naughty fruit.

Lucky, spoiled co-workers.

The Short (dis)Order Cook said...

Dee - Yeah, blueberries are a bit more functional than kaffir lime leaves. I did have to buy something like 6 containers to fill this pie. Yikes!

NP - I think people are afraid to be the first one to cut something up. When you bring something that's already in single servings like brownies or cookies, people take it right away.

SGCC - If my cooking is nothing else, it's always rustic. ;-)

Em - Don't worry. Only the crust went into the fridge to chill while I took a shower. The berries did their thing on the counter.

CECIL said...

I love that kind of pie! With some filling spill out, great home-made feeling all over it - I bet it smells heavenly!

Nik Snacks said...

You have balls. I think I would have kept the entire pie process to myself. Usually my food turns out great, but the times that it doesn't, it crushes me. Literally, crushes me.

I wear my heart on my sleeve. Well, my apron.

Sue said...

Sorry, I'm so late reading this post. You are amazing. I would NEVER have shared a pie like that. Can you let me know the next time you bring a pie in and I'll sneak into your office.