The expression, “Easy as pie” is so true because pie IS easy! I’m a pie person. I’d choose pie over cake any day. It’s because there’s more love put into a pie. You also have to use your hands more when making it that’s why it’s one of those foods that allow you to really taste the love that goes into it. Homemade pies are not only delicious but also comforting and nurturing. Pies do for the belly what a child’s blankie does for their feelings; pie makes you feel warm, safe, cozy, and loved.
I vividly remember going to my grandma’s house and seeing an apple pie cooling on the counter when we arrived at her house in Midland. I have a similar recollection at my Louisiana grandmother’s home. It’s a comforting and happy food that makes memories with your smell and taste senses forever.
I think of pie as a southern dessert. I even like to say “pi” and accent the long “i” sound like a real southerner. A pie is not as elegant as a tart; you see the real handy work, flaws, and finger markings in a pie as opposed to a tart which is more elegant and not near as rustic. I also love the free form shape of a gallette, the most rustic of all pies. It’s fun to think outside the circle and make a free-formed pie.
Every season is pie season but my favorite time for pie is right now; fresh fruits are in abundance and they are ripe and just begging to be picked and baked. Most people have pie making staples already in their pantry: flour, sugar, cornstarch, vanilla, coconut, lemon, chocolate…
There are many good reasons to bake a pie. I was inspired just this week by a rumbling Texas storm. I was reading one of my favorite books by Patricia Polacco, Thunder Cake, to my second grade class when I knew I had to go home and bake a pie. Thunder Cake is one of those stories that prove just how therapeutic baking is. It teaches us that once you truly emerce yourself in a project all those negative thoughts (in this case it was a little girl afraid of thunder) just vanish.
I have noticed many really good pie makers often have old fashioned names like Daisy, Honey, and Evelyn. This makes me think they were named after their mother’s mother and probably follow the same recipe that they used way back when…I very much want to be that grandmother whose house smells warm and inviting with a pie on the counter. Who knows, maybe my grandmother name will be Honey!
I have three favorite pie recipes that I use all the time: almond crumb crust, my grandmother’s recipe for basic pie crust, and the French pie crust, pate brisee.
Almond Crumb Crust
1 ½ C flour
A heaping C of toasted finely ground almonds
½ C sugar
¼ t salt
1 ½ sticks unsalted butter (at room temperature and cut into small pieces)
Mix dry ingredients into a food processor and pulse. Cover and chill until ready to use.
2 C flour
½ C cornmeal
1 t salt
1 T sugar
2 sticks of cold unsalted butter
½ C ice water
Place ingredients in a food processor and pulse, then add butter and process about ten seconds. Divide in half, wrap, and refrigerate at least an hour.
My Grandmother Dodo’s Pie Crust
3 C flour
1 1/3 C shortening (butter flavored)
4 T water
1 T apple cider vinegar
Pinch of salt
Mix in a food processor. Cut in half and roll. Makes two crusts.
My Mom’s Three Berry Pie
1 C sugar
1/3 C flour
1 ½ C sour cream
1 C blueberries
1 C blackberries
1 C raspberries
1/3 C flour
1/3 C brown sugar
1/3 C nuts of your choice
3 T butter
Combine sugar, flour, eggs, sour cream and vanilla in a bowl. Gradually fold in fruit. Spoon into unbaked pastry shell and bake 350 for 40-45 minutes.
*Try one of the pie crusts above. My favorite for this pie is my grandmother’s crust.
Ashley’s Fruit Galette
1 pint strawberries
1 pint blueberries
1 pint blackberries
1 stalk of rhubarb
½ C sugar
Juice of one lemon
2 T cornstarch
Pinch of salt
Roll out cornmeal pate brisee to about 14-inch round and transfer to a baking sheet with a sill pad. Preheat oven to 375. Toss together fruit, sugar, lemon juice, cornstarch, and salt. Arrange fruit mixture on top of the dough in the center. Fold border over the fruit overlapping and pressing down gently. Brush edges with egg and sprinkle with sugar and lavender flowers. Bake about 1 hour.
A book for your wish list is, Mrs. Rowe’s Little Book of Southern Pies. I read Mrs. Rowe goes through about 35,000 pies a year and customers order their pie before dinner because her pies are so quick to run out. That’s got to be a REALLY good pie!
When the moon hits your eye like a big “southern pie” that’s amore!!