She could whip up a 7-minute frosting without a second thought, and the thought of her caramel cake still makes my mouth water. I don't know what it was about pie, but I don't recall ever seeing her even make an attempt.
When I think about extended family gatherings, I don't remember pies on the dessert table. There was coconut cake, glistening, shaggy white with just enough icing pooled around the edges to accommodate an eight year old finger.
Yellow cake with rich milk chocolate icing, decorated with whole pecans on top, frosting between layers nearly as think as the layers.
Fresh peach cobbler, still warm from the oven with butter oozing up through the crust, just waiting for a scoop of ice cream or a drink of half and half.
No dessert table was complete without silky banana pudding that looked like sunshine in a dish. Don't remember cookies, or brownies, or pies, but sure didn't miss them.
I've never been exactly what you would call a rebel (I left that privilege to my older brother.) I probably do a lot more things like my mom than I even realize. Just like Daddy, my husband, Tom, is a cake guy. I have said for years if his mother iced a brick with mud, put it on the table and called it cake, Tom would try to eat it and call it great.
Somewhere along the way, I finally cracked: Mama or no Mama, pie guy or not, I was going to give pie making a shot. This may have coincided with my sister, Nancy, selling Tupperware. BIG TIP #1: use a Tupperware bowl. At one demo, she showed how to make pie crust without all the cutting in. Great! I'd already tried that and it didn't go so well.
So all you have to do is dump in the flour and one of the liquids, water or oil, put the lid on tightly and shake like crazy. Little kids loving doing this for you. (It doesn't really seem to make any difference which one goes in first.) When you open it up, there will be small pastry balls, about the size of a pea.
Next, add the other liquid, and follow the same process. This time, there should be one or two big clumps. Super! If it seems a bit wet, add a little more flour when you roll out.
Before we moved "up north", Mama had saved her S & H Green Stamps to get a Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook. Before inheriting Mama's cookbook, I was already exploring my own. And looky there! A pie crust recipe that didn't call for lard (sorry, just can't go there). It actually was an oil pastry recipe. BIG TIP #2: Either check out the BH & G cookbook, or find an oil pastry recipe. I switch out oil for melted oleo and add a touch of sugar. This recipe isn't exactly like mine, but close enough.
Okay, so you've combined flour, water, oil (or melted oleo) and maybe a tablespoon of sugar in a Tupperware bowl. The best part for me is that my hands aren't sticky and there's no dough under my fingernails. Now, it's time to roll out. BIG TIP #3: Sprinkle a FEW drops of water on the counter, then cover with a double layer of was paper. Toss the pastry dough BETWEEN the layers of wax paper. This is where you sprinkle a little flour, top and bottom, if the dough is a bit wet.
This just gets better and better doesn't it? BIG TIP #4:Roll your pastry dough, between the layers of wax paper to slightly larger than your dish. When it's the right size, GENTLY peel off the top layer of paper.
Now, you get to kinda play like the guy pizza guy in the window. Slide your hand under the bottom layer of paper (still not touching the dough). Gingerly, flip it over and into your dish, easing it into corners. Once the crust is center and tucked into the corners, poke it several times with a fork (I'm not sure why, I think it's a science thing.)
After the crust has the breathing holes, use the fork to go all around the top of the dish, pressing the crust onto the dish. It will look like little hash marks in crust on the lip of the dish. This is kind of important for a single crust pie. If you don't press the edges to the dish, it will shrink and get ugly. Finally, use a serrated knife to trim the excess crust from the edges. BIG TIP #5: Flip, poke, press and trim, in that order.
I've been doing single pie crusts like this for several decades, and bet I haven't had 3 that didn't turn out well. I bake it empty for cream pies, filled for "sawdust" pie, and even use the same recipe and steps when making quiche. Tom may not have become a pie guy, but he does like my pie crust.
And here's a little bonus. If you have a handful of scraps after trimming, mush them together and roll out again. Use the serrated knife to cut into random shapes. Spread oleo on top with some cinnamon and sugar and bake for about 7-10 minutes @ 350 degrees. Quick, easy little snack that may not be too healthy, but it's not going to send the kids on a sugar high.
TUPPERWARE + OIL PASTRY RECIPE + WAX PAPER = GREAT PIE CRUST W/OUT THE MESS!
I'm linking this post to Giving Up on Perfect.
8 O taste and see that the Lord is good;
How blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him!