Monday, October 29, 2012

Easy as pie...crust.

Pie crust is a pastry that seems simple to make because so many people make chocolate chip cookies.  Well, I'm here to tell you it isn't.  There's an art to it, a certain "something".
Pie crust is something someone SHOWS you how to grandma, your auntie, your momma.  Not me. 
My mom showed me where the refrigerated Pillsbury section of the grocery store was. 
Then she showed me where the frozen Mrs.Smith's pies were in the freezer section and said, "No one can tell the difference". 
Ahhh!  Family Tradition!  Doesn't it warm your heart? HA!
SO I never learned to make a good crust.  I always overworked it or the ingredients weren't cold enough.  Sheeeeeesh!  Drama for yo' momma!  No wonder she never learned either!
The truth of the matter is, MOST people don't give a rat's ass about where the pie came from...especially at holidays where there is so much food that even though the attendance of the pie is "required", no one really CARES where it came from.  The pumpkin pie is HERE!  We can start Thanksgiving now!  Oh thank GOD!  Then it hardly gets eaten because everyone ate too much turkey.
The exception to this was last Thanksgiving.  I shudder to think about it.
You see, my attempts at pie crust had previously been heavy handed and unfortunate in their results.  SO, as a dutiful child, I bought my pie crust at the grocery store...PILLSBURY, baby!  We were visiting my husband's family in Louisiana and I was to have my FIRST Cajun Thanksgiving at my brother in law's house! Turducken! Boudin! Mmmmmm!  We were staying at my father-in-law's house, there was a kitchen so....I volunteered to make a couple of pies.  One was's the EASIEST pie to make.  Here I am, in a strange house, with minimal baking equipment, taking care of a 2 year old, and 3 month old infant, so HEY! I'll make pies too!  WHY NOT!?  Lack of sleep makes you delusional.
Fast forward to later that day, when we are at Thanksgiving.  The fellas are watching football, my son is playing with his cousin, the baby is getting passed around...and Southern women are eating my pie.
"Ohh! Did you make this crust!?", they say enthusiastically and expectantly, as it is common knowledge that I enjoy baking. 
"No", I said.  "I had to use Pillsbury". 

Oh. no. I. di'int.

I did NOT just tell these Southern woman the truth that I used a premade crust.  *sigh*.  Yes, I did.  STUPID! STUPID! STUPID!  DUMB! DUMB! DUMB! They smiled as if they understood, but then as we stood there "eating" the pie, I began to notice them eyeing it like there was a turd on the plate.  I excused myself to go "feed the baby", but I knew what they were going to do. 
THEY LEFT THE CRUST. They did.  I saw it.  They didn't eat it after I told them I hadn't made it myself.  I was humiliated.  I was.  I was mortified, humiliated, embarrassed.  I know a lot of people just don't eat the crust because A) it's caloric and B) isn't ever as good as the filling...but they had just ASKED ME about the level of deliciousness to expect.  I let them down.  I screwed their Thanksgiving pie up.  I RUINED Cajun Thanksgiving.  OK, maybe that's an over dramatization.  But I did feel bad.  I vowed to learn to make pie crust from scratch. 

So here we are, almost a year later. I had been pouring over the November issue of Martha Stewart Living and there it was: PIE CRUST 101.  The skies parted and the angels began to sing!!!  HERE was my answer!  So I made her crust.  It was an ALL BUTTER crust, made in the food processor (my kind of recipe!) with frozen butter!  Smart! Smart! Smart!  Oh Martha, how I love thee!  As I made the dough it looked EXACTLY like the pictures!  Maybe I CAN make crust after all! 
Then it all came crashing down...
My pie plate was too big.  It's a large, heavy, purple, ceramic Chantal pie plate that I just like the look of.  The crust was too small to reach the top!  I then downshifted and crimped it lower in the plate.  I blind baked it (covered it in foil with pie weights on top) and proceeded to make the filling. 
I chose a Honey Pecan Pie because ever since they mentioned it on an episode of Duck Dynasty, I just HAD to make it. You can find the recipe HERE
My second calamity of the day was that the filling of the pie left nearly 2 inches of crust above it!  So once again, my pie plate is just too damn big!  I just need a REGULAR pie plate, apparently.
I baked it off and served it at room temp with whipped cream.  It was REALLY delicious.  The filling was, that is.  The crust had a nice buttery flavor and wasn't the worst crust I had ever made, but it wasn't really flaky.  Next time, I think I'm going to go 50/50 butter and shortening and see how that turns out.  I like the taste of the butter but it's common knowledge that shortening makes a flakier crust.
So here's my pie. 

My sweet husband thought it was awesome and ate 2 huge slices.  The honey gives it a really nice and complex flavor.  I may never go back to other sugars for pecan pie again! 

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