Monday, July 03, 2006

ECL vs Pie

I don't know how many of you remember, but one of my baking resolutions for this year was to stop being afraid of pie crusts. Every now and then throughout the first half of this year I would remind myself that those terribly scary pie crusts were out there lurking, threatening to haunt me when I sleep and steal my precious jewels, and that I, evil cake lady, had resolved to conquer my fear once and for all.

And so, my inability to eat most summer fruit raw--even though I would LOVE to--led me to the desperate place today that hereafter will be known as: The Day ECL And Pie Crust Met.

(Why can't I eat most summer fruit raw you ask? Well, a nice juicy peach, or a bright red cherry, or even too many handfuls of blueberries, makes my tongue feel all burnt and numb and my throat all itchy. Not So Good. But I can eat any of them once they are cooked and yummy!)

In the past I have tried to get excited about pie crust, but after getting intimidated by the 200 tips and tricks and helpful hints and recipes and whatnot in RLB's The Pie and Pastry Bible I would close the book and bake a cake instead.

But today, my resolve held firm and I decided to try.

Following RLB's instructions for making a Flaky Pie Crust was a little confusing. Sorry RLB, this book could have been better organized, and in some places, better written. I'm not saying, but I'm saying.

I used my roommate's food processor to get the dough all put together and at first I was really concerned about it as it wasn't very elastic. A tug on the dough to see if it would stretch would pull a chunk off instead. But, I powered on, letting the dough rest up in the refrigerator while I attended to the peaches.

Peaches, Macerating

I didn't have enough peaches for a full 9 inch pie, so I decided to make little peach turnovers using pie dough instead of puff pastry. Like little fruit empanadas.

At about this point in the pie process I realised I didn't own a rolling pin, and neither did my roommate. So I looked around our cupboards to see if there was anything suitable (living in Ukraine taught me to be creative--we used the bottom of a wine bottle to mash potatoes one night) and I found a great vinegar bottle. Perfect!

So out I rolled my first little pie crust, which warmed up really fast and the butter flakes in the dough softened up quite a bit, and the dough was sticky, and I put too much filling in and it leaked out as I was pinching the edges shut and ack!

So I put the rest of the dough back in the refrigerator, the first turnover in the freezer, and watched a movie with my roommate.

About three hours later, I decided to get back to that dang dough, and as it was much cooler in the kitchen I had high hopes of completeing the task. By the fourth turnover I think I had the rolling thing down. And I stopped overfilling the pies which made a huge difference. Also, that three hour rest in the refrigerator really made the dough a much more cooperative thing.

Which has led me to think I might be like Flaky Pie Crust: too long in the heat and I get all uncooperative too.

By the time I got all the turnovers turned over it was 2:30 am (I like the night what can I say). I decided to keep all the little turnovers in the freezer until tomorrow when I can bake them up in the morning and hopefully enjoy them for breakfast.

So goodnight to thee. I'll let you know how tomorrow turns out. (Or over--haha, that makes me the exceptionally clever lady doesn't it?)

(07/03) Tomorrow:

Well I took the little frozen peach turnovers out of the freezer, made three slashes on the tops of each, painted on some egg white and sprinkled with milled cane sugar, preheated the oven and popped the little guys in there. About 30 minutes later, I pulled out these little golden turnovers, many of which had spooged filling and even developed more cracks and holes than the slashes I had allowed them.

Look!  I Made Turnovers!

But, wow, the crust was actually pretty good! I would add a little more salt next time, but all in all, the crust is tender, flaky, and tasty. Not too bad for the First Pie Crust Ever Made By The ECL.

So now I don't feel like pie crust is the enemy anymore. In fact, its not even that I won the battle of ECL vs Pie, its more that we have come to a tenuous understanding, and hopefully with a little cultivation and patience me and Pie will have a long and co-creative relationship.

Which is good news for all of you.


  1. Hi Evil Cake Lady

    what a great name! Your pictures make me salivate! They look so delicious! I noticed youre from Portland - I just met a woman from Portland visiting the islands - she was an event planner and with her three sisters visiting relatives in Hawai'i.

  2. thanks for stopping by Kala! i miss oahu--i used to go and stay in north shore every couple of years. your photo blog makes me miss it even more, but in a good way.

  3. Way to go, ECL! Three cheers for pastry detente! I've always had some of the old peur de pate, not to mention a hit or miss relationship with pie crust, so you are doubly inspiring.

  4. ECL, Let me just tell ya about pies. They are the finest things in the part of the galaxy. Today I made a Cherry Pie using the Organic Rainer cherries growing in my yard. Using only a pear and the cherries themselves I made Pear-Cherry butter as part of the filling, and then used the rest of the cherries in the pie. I made the crust out a mixture of non-gluten flours and it was pretty much divine! Four people got Pie Religion after a slice or three of this pie.

    Sound like I need to bake you an apple pie...

  5. Thursday: even though the RLB's Pie and Pastry Bible is not as well put together as her Cake Bible, I firmly believe her pie crust recipe, which she spent many many years trying to make "foolproof" is the only reason I got a good crust my first day out. Well, that, and I am good at following directions. :)

    Chupacabra: oooh you have cherries growing in your yard! My neighbors in Los Altos had the leftover of a cherry orchard in their yard and we would pick cherries and throw them into the pool and dive in afterwards to pick them up from the bottom and eat them. That was before cherries and I got all sensitive towards each other. And by all means, bake me an apple pie--I can bring the (non dairy) ice cream made from coconut milk.