Pursuit of Pie
The coil bound book before me with a personalized inscription, created by the author for her family, includes traditional recipes often not found in modern recipe books. The recipes bring warm memories of living on the farm and her desire was to share them with friends and acquaintances.
Inspired by the pastry section, I set out in an attempt to make pie. Pastry is considered a delicate art form. With this acknowledgement, I am motivated to create. In the words of the curator herself (referring to pastry), "the best being light and tender and requires a bit of practice." Before proceeding, I entice my mom to spend an afternoon with me, start with a clean slate, select the fruit filling (apple, strawberry & rhubarb, blueberry) and pour myself a glass of wine.
Here goes nothing ... my preliminary pursuit of pie.
- measuring cup(s), Tbsp., tsp.
- rolling pin
- large wooden board
- parchment paper (optional)
- pie plate(s)
- wine (recommended)
- 5 cups flour
- 1 1/2 tsp. salt
- 1 lb. lard (substitute for margarine, shortening or butter if desired)
- 14 Tbsp. cold water
The book contains detailed instructions for preparing the pastry - complete with tips and considerations including: the optimal thickness and texture of the dough, and cutting an air vent in the centre of the top piece to avoid cooking over the edge.
Baking Pastry is most important. The oven should be hot enough for the dough to rise quickly. When the pastry has risen, the temperature is reduced to cook the filling thoroughly. If too hot, the top will be scorched before the pastry has risen (this may have happened to me). If it is not hot enough, the pastry becomes heavy and soggy.
Bake double-crusted fruit pies in a preheated over at 450 for 10 minutes, then reduce to 325 or 350 for another 30 minutes.
Experiment with different flavours by using any remaining pastry to make tarts.
Fillings for Pies
The rule of thumb for filling is 4 cups of prepared fruit, 1 cup of sugar and 1/4 cup of flour. Mix the flour and sugar together thoroughly. Sprinkle over the fruit or put it under the fruit (the juice will boil up through the fruit and not over the top.) Put on the top and seal the edges.
An afternoon spent navigating the cherished instructions documented in her recipe books, the first of which was published in 1980 (Anne's Kitchen) and the second in 2005 (Fifty-Five Years in Anne's Kitchen), were reminiscent of my childhood. Each year, in the late summer/ early fall, my grandparents thoughtfully picked the ripe and abundant fruit from their orchard and vegetables from their extensive garden. Unbeknownst to me, reflecting on these traditions would bestow upon me a desire recreate the recipes of my childhood as documented by my grandmother and to grow my own produce to share with family and friends.
click above for additional images (amateur photography)
If baking pie isn't an ideal activity, one can procure delicious pies by visiting a local farmer's market or scratch bakery. On a recent road trip to BC, I stumbled upon the delicious Shuswap Pie Company that specializes in quality, hand-made pie and pastry. The memorable pecan pie (pronounced pe-kan) was definitely worth the detour through Salmon Arm. Additionally, there are various online recipes available, and fellow Frenchie enthusiast, Martha Stewart offers delicious solutions for almost any baking endeavour one might wish to pursue.