If you have been reading my blog for awhile you may have noticed that I have a crush on pie. The way the crust shatters as I bite into to it makes me swoon. The endless variety of fillings makes me giddy.
My quest for the perfect crust recipe has been a daunting but delicious journey. I continually wrestle with the debate of which attribute is most important; flakiness or tenderness.
For quite some time I was certain that my Grandmother’s recipe was by far the best pie crust there was. It certainly is tender, so tender in fact that it tricks you into thinking that it is also incredibly flaky which is impossible considering that the only fat in the crust is oil and flakiness is a result of the water content in butter turning to steam when it reaches the oven which then creates layers in the dough… well anyway.. it is a very tender crust. Beyond that, it is also very simple. There is no need to mess with making sure that all the ingredients are ice cold or waiting for the dough to rest. You simply dump the ingredients together and stir. If it feels to dry add a little more oil or milk. That’s my kind of baking.
Grandma’s Pie Crust
2 cups All-Purpose flour
1/2 cup oil
1/4 cup milk
Combine all ingredients. Can either be pressed into the pan or rolled out between two sheets of parchment. Grandma uses this for a double crust but I often double this recipe as I like my crusts pretty thick and I always love extra pie crust so I can bake the scraps with cinnamon and sugar and munch on those until the pie is done.
When I found and tweaked this recipe Grandma’s was beat out by a butter-rich crust that is the perfect balance of flakiness and tenderness, combined with the fantastic rich flavor that comes from a crust made entirely out of butter.
There are a number of reasons why I bring up the subject of pies today. First of all … ‘tis the season! Berries are bursting off the vines and stone fruits will be making an appearance soon here in the northwest. My mouth waters at the thought of it and I assure you all that once my kitchen is no longer under construction I will be begin my summer pie baking.
My second reason for this pie conversation is because I wanted to invite you all (all of you in the area or those who are willing to make the trek) to my pie class coming up at the end of July. I will be demonstrating the execution of the perfect pie crust as well as showing my Grandmother’s recipe and a delicious and simple tart crust. We will also be creating a variety of seasonal fruit fillings to fill our shells. The pie will be in abundance and the whipped cream and ice cream will be flowing! It should be a delicious event.
Lastly it has taken me nearly a year to share these photos with you but I am so happy to do it now. My favorite event from last summer’s wedding season was not a cake but rather a beautiful and bountiful display of pies. I created thirty pies in at least seven different varieties. I will let the pictures speak for themselves. (Side note: Look for these photos in the July issue of Seattle Metropolitan Bride as this wedding is going to be featured in that issue).
As much as I love to create the elaborate and artistic plated desserts with their abundance of ubber-fancy components, it is the classic desserts done impeccably well that I crave. Using fresh butter, locally produced, seasonal fruits and vegetables creates a memorable and mouth-watering pie.
To me pie can be as simple or extravagant as you want. Pie baking gives you the freedom to be creative or to stick the ol’ standbys and either way (unless you go to crazy) you are going to please any who indulges.
Photos provided by the very talented Michele M Waite.