Oh, my. The pie! I have to send out a huge THANK YOU to Jim and Mary Wessel Walker for leading us through an amazing pie-making class. Here’s a bit of what we did:
First, Jim explained that the key to good pie is keeping the crust cold. Therefore, you want your butter, shortening, or lard to start off cold, and you want to chill both the dough and the filling before you assemble the pie…or your dough will melt and slump instead of remaining light and flaky. So the order of the workshop was a little backwards, but it worked out very well.
First, Jim demonstrated rolling out the pie crust. The secret, he said, was to use lots and lots of flour. If it tears or cracks, you can patch it, but never try to add water or lump it back together and re-roll it from scratch.
After putting the cold filling into the crust, you can either put a solid sheet of crust on the top, slashing it a few times to let the steam out, or create a beautiful lattice crust, as Jim demonstrated.
Then we made pie filling. You want to cook it lightly – enough to get the fruit to break down a little and start to thicken, but not nearly so much as to turn it into jam. This helps ensure your filling will jell. Our participants made pies from cherries, mixed berries, and even apricots!
Finally, we made the crust. While you can do this by hand, a food processor with a steel blade really helps. This video demonstrates the technique of blending the fat (in our case, lard and butter) into the flour.
The next video (sorry for the orientation…) shows how to dribble ice water into the fat/flour crumbles to make the final dough. The final dough looks like this:
Then we wrapped up our dough and fillings and chilled them (to be assembled at home later) while we ate the finished pie. It was sublime!
Any word from participants about how your final pies turned out? I’m making mine tonight…