“We must have pie. Stress cannot exist in the presence of pie.” – David Mamet |
I had the privilege of hosting some of the North Iowa Bloggers in my home for a private pie baking class. Baking pie is cathartic for me. The art of pie baking can be as complicated or as simple as a person makes it. Pie does many things, but what it does best is bestow comfort upon those who make it, and those who eat it. In the last couple of years, comfort is paramount for me and the gals in this group were feeling the same way.
Recently, the North Iowa Bloggers lost an integral person of their tight knit group. Amy from Modern Rural Living tragically passed away in February. I did not know Amy personally (*in person) but she and I supported each other’s blogs and I felt her kindness though we were miles apart. This pie baking class was for everyone to come together, visit and learn to bake pies. We conjured up memories of Amy, and I felt it fitting to create a new (to me) recipe this day, and call it “Amy’s Pie”. Blueberries are my favorite berry for a pie, but what I didn’t know is how coincidental it was that my ‘magic’ new addition was the main ingredient of her favorite pie to make her fiancée: Red Raspberries. (I learned this after the pie baking day.)
Pictured above: Me, Jessica, Val, Jeni, Mary and Shannon outside of Goldie’s.
To cap off the afternoon of baking, we went to Goldie’s Ice Cream Shoppe in Prairie City. They are famous for their breaded pork tenderloin (which I’ve had a number of times) but I chose to have the pot roast special which was extremely delicious.
Each blogger went home with their own pie, to bake at home. There were mixed berry pies, pear pie (my favorite, and it looks as though I’ve convinced Val that pear is better than apple too!) and everyone did a fantastic job on their crust preparation. Overall, it was the most productive pie class I’ve ever given. Not only because the pies that left my home were beautiful, but productive because of the friendships that were forged over simple ingredients and old fashioned baking techniques.
Creating memorial recipes is something I started a couple of years ago when my nephew Drake was born. The recipe for “Drake’s Cake” is like “Amy’s Pie”, and when I bake these recipes, I swear it brings me closer… if only for a moment. Drake’s 2 year ‘birthday’ will be this week on 4/30, so I’m furiously working to perfect another recipe.
That’s how my grief manifests itself, but baking helps me deal… and heal.
“Amy had a zest for life, unlike any other. She was always up for learning something new and not afraid to step out of her comfort zone.”
Sara B. from All in An Iowa Mom’s Day
“’Sweet as pie’ is a phrase I would use to describe Amy. She always had a smile on her face and could be counted on to lend a helping hand. She was game for new challenges and adventures – and she often blogged about them on Modern Rural Living. Amy enjoyed spending time in the kitchen. Her fiancé Spencer’s favorite pie is raspberry, and she loved making it for him.”
Shannon L. from The Field Position
“Amy always had a huge smile on her face which then made everyone around her smile too. She had such an energy and zest for life. She was also very supportive of her friends and fellow North Iowa Bloggers.”
Val P. from Corn Beans Pigs and Kids
For more stories about our fun pie baking day, check out:
Shannon: The Field Position: Lifting Spirits with Blue Ribbon Baking
Enchanted Acres: Cooking Up Conversations about Food and Farming
Val: Corn Beans Pigs and Kids: Easy As Pie
Jeni: Jeni Eats: Baking Pies with Food & Swine and Goldie’s Pork Tenderloin
Mary: A Natural Plus: pie day.
Here are all of the pie recipes on my blog. This pie did not last long in my house. The berries with the lemon zest were so delicious. I had a piece for supper on night #1, breakfast and lunch on day #2. No lie, this babe loves pie.
- 2 1/2 cups All Purpose Flour
- 1 1/2 tsp Salt
- 1 tbsp Granulated Sugar
- 1 cup butter, cubed, well chilled can use lard, shortening or combo. I love butter.
- 1/3-1/2 cup water
- 2 tsp vinegar
- 1 large egg
- 3 cups blueberries washed, dried, stems removed (fresh or frozen)
- 1 cup red raspberries washed, dried and picked over (fresh or frozen)
- 1 1/4 cup Granulated Sugar
- 1/4 c minute tapioca rounded cup, *use a bit more if using frozen berries or if fresh berries are really juicy
- 1 large pinch of salt
- 2 tsp water
- 1 tbsp Sugar
- 1 tbsp Butter in pieces
- Combine dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Cut in butter with a fork until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Add wet ingredients, mix only until combined and dough just clings together. Divide mixture in half. Wrap in plastic wrap, pat into disks, and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
- Add berries to a large mixing bowl. In a small bowl, combine sugar and zest of lemon, rub sugar into zest to release oils. (*this perfumes the sugar with lovely intense lemon flavor. Try this trick with sugar cookies, scones, etc.) Add sugar to large mixing bowl with berries. Add juice of lemon, tapioca and salt. Stir to combine.
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. When filling is prepared, remove disks of pie pastry from refrigerator. Roll 1 crust out to fit the pie plate. Place inside, using care not to stretch the crust. Gently fit to plate. Fill with filling, dot with 1 TBSP butter. Roll second crust out, cut into strips. Weave strips in lattice fashion on top of the pie or simply lay uncut pastry over top of pie, cutting a vent or two to let steam escape. Fold edges of pastry upwards and crimp decoratively. Brush pie with egg wash and sprinkle with sugar. Bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes and 350 for an additional 40 minutes, if you used fresh fruit and an additional 55 minutes if you used frozen fruit. Remove from oven, let cool for 4 hours before slicing. This will ensure that your fruit pie will 'set'.
*Pre Measure all flour, salt and sugar. (Scoop flour into cup, gently. Don’t pack.)
*Sugar is optional in pie crust pastry. It lightly browns the crust.
*Some people add 1 tsp of baking powder to their crust, I choose not to because I swear I can taste it.
Fat of Choice:
**Whatever fat is used it must be cubed and well CHILLED.
*May use butter (browner crust, flavorful, usually denser, somewhat less tender, easy to work with when rolling out.)
*May use shortening (blonde crust, less flavorful, light and flaky, tender, somewhat easy to work with when rolling out)
*May use lard (blonde crust, flavorful taste of lard pastry, lightest and flakiest, most tender, somewhat difficult to work with when rolling out)
*Combination of fats is also a possibility. Find your perfect blend. (*I like all butter nowadays, but butter + lard is also fantastic!)
*FLOUR to FAT ratio in pie pastry is suggested 2:1. (ie: 2 Cups Flour to 1 Cup of fat)
*Ice Water to combine ingredients. (The less water used yields a more tender crust)
*Vinegar combined with the water will tenderize the crust
*Some use eggs in crust, will deepen color of crust and eggs bind the crust a bit better, great for beginners who want a little help with their rolling.
*After dry ingredients are sifted, fat is ‘cut’ into flour until mixture resembles coarse crumbs (pea sized).
*1 TBSP at a time, water is added until you can squeeze a TBSP size of the mixture in your hands and it holds together on its own.
*Do not over-work the dough. This will make it tough.
*Chill ingredients before beginning.
*Always use plenty of flour when rolling out your crust. (On board, rolling pin etc.)
*If crust is difficult to work with, return it to refrigerator for a brief chill before continuing.