Friday, January 08, 2010

The Pie Show

I learned how to bake over the last several months:  Cookies, cakes, bread, even rugelach.
Now it was time for me to master a big Kahuna of baking:  A boysenberry pie.
No pre-made crusts or fillings.   A real, home made pie..
Could I do it?
I got the crust recipe off the internet.  It suggested using liquor  to help keep the dough soft.
I followed the rules.  Cold, cubed butter, cut in the dough, not overworked, add enough liquid so it's not crumbly but not so much that it's sticky... ...geez, it smells like a martini.   Maybe I should have checked this on Snopes....
On to the filling.  I drained the  boysenberries (carefully saving the liquid from one can).  I poured the latter in a saucepan, along with my pre measured portions of sugar and cornstarch.  I stirred.   A great blob of lavender foam rose. It looked like  a freaky science experiment.   Huh?  Why was it doing this?
Here's why.  When you store the baking powder next to the cornstarch in similar containers, things can go very wrong....
I dumped the foam to start over.  But whoops, I'd already poured the syrup from the other can down the drain.    In its place I cooked up some sugar, water, lemon juice, and mashed up berries.
Now, for the top crust.
I'd planned a smooth, ornate one, with petite scalloped  cookie cutter holes and maybe an egg wash.  The dough  ripped open when I put it in place.  I could have balled and re-rolled it, but I was afraid it would toughen the dough..  It was getting late too.  Well, the gash will work as a vent, right?
I baked it and set it down to cool.  It smelled great.  It looked like it was dropped off a  building.
The next morning I tasted it.  The top crust  was tasty.  The filling was fruity.  The bottom crust was... ...doughy.
Ah well, I thought, they'll still enjoy it.  Then I remembered the secret ingredient.  Wait!  If the bottom  crust isn't fully cooked, it might still have alcohol... ...don't be silly, there's not enough to get someone intoxicated... ...but what if someone happens to be highly sensitive or allergic...?
 I added a note warning about the bottom crust.   It never hurts to be safe.  Then again, it looks astoundingly weird when you serve your pie with a note warning not to eat the bottom crust and drive.


Sally said...

HYSTERICAL! I've had so many pie disasters, but none so loopy! You win the prize. I have never fiured out, even when I was making good pie crust, how some folks have such smooth crust.

stray said...

Funny! My cooking often goes awry. I get halfway through and read the recipe and think "oh, I was supposed to add that later...."

Namowal said...

Hi Sally,
I think the problem with pie making is there's so many opportunities for error. The coldness of the butter, how it's mixed in, how much liquid to add, what kind of flour is used, how the dough is handled and rolled, how it's cooked, how the filling is prepared...
...laws of probability guarantee something will go wrong. At least it makes good blog material.
p.s. If I ever figure out how to make a crust that behaves, I'll let you know.

Hi Stray,
I know what you mean about being halfway through some recipe and realizing you goofed! Sometimes I actually draw crude pictures of what to add and when to add it. Sounds silly, but it helps. Most of the time anyway!

Linda said...

It suggested using liquor to help keep the dough soft. Yeah, uh-huh.

p.s. Did you use gin?

p.p.s. Namo, you and I should never EVER consider opening a bakery together.

Namowal said...

Hi Linda,
Actually I used Vodka. Supposedly the ethanol in alcohol doesn't lend itself to forming gluten (which can toughen the dough). The top crust came out okay (except for being ripped open), but the bottom crust was a gummy mess.
I agree we shouldn't start a bakery- Some dangerous forces shouldn't combine!

stray said...

I would be tempted to just drink the vodka.

Namowal said...

Stray G,
Ha! Good point.

booda baby said...

Oh, THAT is just a great story!! And an impressive one, too. I'd go straight to Marie Callendar's.

Namowal said...

Thanks, boodababy!