Thursday, November 28, 2013

Thanksgiving Pies

 I'm a lover of baking as this blog attests. But pies? Could I make pies, homemade crust and all?
 I recently finished reading Making Piece: A Memoir of love, loss and pie by Beth Howard and I found it truly inspirational. You can read my review here.
 I found that I could make pie, indeed. I highly recommend the basic pie dough recipe in this book (page 301). We don't generally have butter on hand so I substituted Blue Bonnet margarine. I didn't use even a quarter of the one cup of ice water. And I certainly agree that the dough must be worked by hand ... no knives or forks allowed. Get your finger in there, feel it!, and don't be long. You don't want to warm up the cold butter nor do you want to work pie dough for long.

 Here's what my two pie crusts looked like. I made two pies (rather than have a top and bottom crust for one) and then I made a crumb topping for each. The dough was perfect - softly pliable, workable and delicate. It couldn't have turned out better. And if you're baking pies, I think dough is the key. Who can't make (or buy) filling? We bagged and froze the pie shells.

 I ended up with a little extra dough after I trimmed the pie crust and I made these little cinnamon roll-up's called pinwheels. I just rolled the remaining dough out, spread a layer of softened margarine on it and sprinkled the top with cinnamon and sugar (the more the better, I think). I rolled it up, cut off the tiny pinwheels and baked them and had them right away. It's a good way to test how well the dough worked out, too.

 Then, a few days later, I thawed out one of the pie shells and added commercial cherry pie filling. Had we had access to something in season, I may have tired something different perhaps.

 I added a crumb topping, baked the cherry pie and pulled this out of the oven. Beautiful!

 I love it when the filling begins to ooze out a bit. The dough was flaky and fairly light. Mom would have preferred that I roll it thinner - and I will next time - but it was easily cut with a fork and had a wonderful flavor.

 Mom scooped out half a slice for testing while the pie was still warm. Delicious!

 But now, with Thanksgiving arrived, I took the second shell out of the freezer yesterday and made a fresh apple pie out of it. We used Granny Smith apples and I followed a recipe in Howard's book (page 302, "Mary Spellman's Apple Pie"). Again, I used a crumb topping instead of dough.

 And here's the end result. I'll have this slice for my Thanksgiving lunch. Mom is making green bean casserole, sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce and biscuits. We're both vegetarian so there'll be no turkey in this house.
 Could we have a better meal? I think not. The house is warm, Mom's company is precious to me and the sun is shining in the windows. A perfect Thanksgiving, I'd say, pie and all.

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