24 December 2009

Pie Making: 101

Bottom line: everything I did associated with the making of my pies was wrong.

I went to the baking aisle and did not see Pillsbury crust. So I bought Betty Crocker's crust. She's reputable in the baking world right? Her crust was not already made. I had to add water and roll it out. I set the (4) potatoes boiling and I got to rolling. It did not go well. Everything was sticky. So I added more flour. And while wondering how I got flour on my foot (and shoulder) I dropped the whole bag. First mess of The Great Pie Bake involved an ingredient I shouldn't have even needed.



I rolled and cut my dough. I buttered my dishes. I hit a wall. I did not know if I was supposed to bake the crust first. I mean I was supposed to be using ready-made crust. Was that stuff already cooked? Why didn't Betty Crocker explain that on the box. I decided to bake the crusts -- for just a few minutes -- because I would have hated for them to have been underdone.

Lesson: crusts cook quickly.

In less than 8 minutes, the crusts had browned. I knew that was bad. Aunt Shelia had already told me what the crust should look like at the finish and I already had it -- at the start. So I set those aside.

The potatoes were fork tender and (since I was told the skin had to come off in cold water) I ran cold water on them until the skin peeled away. It worked just like I had expected it too and I was pleased.

I then added a stick of butter and started mashing. I added (3) eggs, (2.5 cups) sugar, (.5 cup) milk and (half a large bottle) vanilla extract, and I kept mashing. One does not want lumpy pies.

The filling turned to soup. One second I'm attacking a piece of potato that won't break. The next, I have sweet potato stew.

I didn't panic, I added flour.

And more flour.

And more flour.

The taste changed. I got nervous. I added more vanilla and was done with it. I poured my concoction into my crusts and covered the edges with foil. Joel said that would keep them from baking any longer and burning.

I called Aunt Shelia, feeling accomplished. That did not last.

In Summary, and with expletives removed:
  • Pillsbury crust is frozen. It would not have been in the baking aisle. I really should have asked someone.
  • Pillsbury crust comes in a metal container, not a glass container like mine. So my baking time was off.
  • No one told me to butter the pan. I could have burned the crust.
  • My filling was soupy because I boiled the potatoes too long.
  • The potato skins were not supposed to peel away as cold water ran on them. They were supposed to peel away after sitting in cold water.
  • It was important to add four eggs, as eggs hold pie together. Skipping that fourth egg doomed me to soup just as much as the boiling did.
My aunt had also never heard of this foil over the crust business and was highly skeptical. I reminded her I do go to her for help and that she said nothing about frozen crust. Why would I know crusts come frozen? I told her I needed first grade instruction. She recommended kindergarten. Aunt Shelia even said "Betty Crocker crust. Who uses Betty Crocker's crust?" I told her Betty is reputable. She scoffed and told me to pray. And then she said I had obviously put love in the pies and that they would be just fine.

She was right. The pies were fine. I would even dare say they were good. I ate them both. I took some to work. Joel had some too. Jesse took a bite and said "it's sweet." He's special.

I'll make pies again next year and in the interim I hope to get out east to see my grandma make them in person. I'll take measurements and that'll be that. No more of that "stick and a little bit" business.