Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Advice From a Pie Lady

I am a member of a small country church that is known for it's homemade pies. We cater dinners for community organizations and every "lady" of the parish is always willing to donate a pie or two, or three or four!  We also have a festival in the summer which features a chicken bbq dinner with mashed potatoes, green beans with bacon, applesauce, roll, and - your choice of a slice of homemade pie. 

MOST IMPORTANT PIECE OF ADVICE: If you are baking pies in aluminum pans, you must place a baking sheet in the oven, THEN preheat the oven AND the baking sheet. Bake the pie on the baking sheet. This will prevent an under baked, soggy crust.  

Another word of advice. I have spent untold dollars on rings to prevent your crust edges from over browning. I have never found anything that works better than strips of foil. 

Here is a look at my contributions for this summer festival (2 cherry, 2 blueberry, the rest apple since we have apple trees). The American Flags are marking the flavor for the "Pie Ladies" in our "Pie Room" (which is an actual room constructed in our new kitchen for pies - walls of narrow shelves to separate all the pies by flavor to assure an equal distribution of flavors to the pie tables.) 
The Official Pie Ladies can eye a pie, decide how many slices will be "just right" and then easily cut into 6 or 8 perfect pieces. I have even seen them cut a pie into 7 or 9 slices, by eye. What a talent!

My talent is pie crusts. When I first joined the church, I experimented with homemade crust recipes; sometimes used store bought frozen pie crust or graham cracker crust or even those Jiffy pie crust mixes that made crusts one at a time. I eventually must have found a good recipe because one of my daycare mothers from the early 1980's rediscovered me on Facebook and shared that she still uses the pie crust recipe I gave her, which she has named after me! I have no clue what this recipe is and I am too embarrassed to ask her. 

A few years ago I was working at a local farm equipment store and we received our monthly copy of the Ohio Farm Bureau's magazine. I flipped to the recipe section and found my perfect and favorite pie crust recipe. 

Not only does this recipe provide a perfect, flaky crust, it makes a mass quantity all at once! And extras can be frozen. It is so easy to handle, too - kind of like play dough! 

To begin - you need the largest bowl in the world. I use a very old Tupperware "Fix and Mix" bowl from the 70's. It is a tight fit, but works. 
 An alternative would be a roaster liner. If you used a foil one, you could reuse it for Thanksgiving. 
Glad to see whatever was on my kitchen tv was rated "G"!

Meanwhile - here is the link to the recipe I am using: 
http://ourohio.org/food/recipes/352/plenty-o-pie-crust

And now back to Plenty of Pie Crust


In your very large bowl, mix a 5 lb bag of flour with 1 teaspoon salt. 

Then cut in 1 3 pound can of shortening. I use a pastry cutter (pictured above) - it works pretty slick. Mine is metal with a rubber handle. It is mixed when the mixture resembles crumbs. 

Now - in a separate bowl (or 4 cup measuring cup), mix 3 1/2 cups of milk with 3 1/2 teaspoons of vinegar. Make a hole in your flour mixture and pour it in. 

You will now have to mix with your hands. It will be a gosh awful sticky mess. You can't stop until it is mixed. You will know it is mixed when it is no longer a gosh awful sticky mess and forms a ball. At that point it will come off your hands and fingers, too.. 

To recap the ingredients - (1) 5 pound bag of flour, (1) 3 pound can of shortening, (1) teaspoon of salt, 1 1/2 cups of milk and 1 1/2 teaspoons of vinegar. You will also need about 2 cups of flour for rolling purposes. 

Next I cut about 15 sheets of wax paper about 2-4 inches large than my pie pans.  Layer them on the counter (this is great for those of us with a small kitchen. 
Sprinkle flour on each sheet and roll a hand full of the dough into a circle. After the first one, you can judge how much you need. The recipe says it makes 15 crusts, but I usually get more. 

At this point you can use as many crusts as you want (remember most pies are "two-crust". Or you can make them ahead. You can refrigerate for a day or two, or freeze for up to 3 months. This way your family will not have to eat 8 pies at once! To freeze:
Just fold in half, then 


And then in half again!

Two crusts should fit in a quart sized zip lock bag or you can put several in a gallon bag for a holiday baking spree. 
These crusts aren't just for fruit pies, either. They work great for pot pies, too. 

Just thaw over night in the refrigerator and then put on the counter until room temperature. You can finger seal any fold marks or re-roll into a rectangle to cover a 9 x 13 pot pie! 

6 comments:

  1. Great post with all the baking coming up for the holidays. Those pies look delicious! I never knew the aluminum cookie sheet should also be preheated...it does make a lot of sense, though. Thanks for the tips, Miss Merry.
    Have a wonderful week.

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  2. Oh my goodness! What lovely pies and thanks for all the great tips!

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  3. OH, My THE PIE!! What a lovely array, and I can tell they're all scrumptious. What a wonderful tradition, and what a delicious memory they evoke. The ladies of our own little country church got together and brought dozens of delectable pies to our lawn wedding these thirty years ago. I've never seen guests enjoy a wedding feast so much.

    Thank you for being such a loyal visitor to LAWN TEA. We're finally "seeing daylight" in that everything will be at least status quo until after Christmas (say prayers), and we can just enjoy the GRANDS---two of whom are right here enjoying their cocoa in "our" recliners with a little mouse-adventure movie til ganjin can get her second cup and get awake. Their parents have been out house-hunting for the past two days---moving within a 1 1/2 hour drive!!!

    Yesterday was CRAMMED with painting, clay-modeling (there's a whole new world over on the drying-tray behind me) and making sausage balls for their Daddy's breakfast.

    And that pie lesson---that's an undertaking like making a wedding cake---you have to put the big pot in the little one, as my Mammaw used to say. That's certainly an accomplishment, for I've never ever had the "hand" for pie crust.

    Must get to the French Toast and get Ganner to slice some of his marvelous grilled ham.

    Happy Thanksgiving!

    rachel

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  4. Oh my goodness. There is nothing better than a recipe from a wonderful home cook.
    If I hadn't already made my dough for tomorrow, I would be making yours today.

    Have a wonderful Thanksgiving.!
    Laura

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  5. If! I can manage this, you will be my mother's hero! She is a little pie hound. It looks great. I wish I knew that tip about aluminum tins. I always transfer to glass when I can and eat soggy pie when I can't... hugs

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Thank you so much for stopping by to visit! I love your comments and suggestions and read them all.

Miss Merry