Drew’s back on the blog! Finally! Thank you for posting about your delicious pie, Sweetie. :)
For my birthday this year, my Inward Facing Wife looked outward for a change (sk!*) and bought me a pie-making class. I don’t know if she already knew that this was a class I had considered taking a number of times in the past, or if she was just craving some pie. Either way, everyone wins.
The class was taught at Book Larder, a very cool cookbook store with a kitchen for such classes, by Megan Gordon of Marge Bakery fame. Megan also runs a beautiful blog (A Sweet Spoonful) that often includes recipes following short personal stories. In the class, Megan demystified pie-making for my classmates and me using her recipes for All-Butter Pie Dough, Blueberry-Lemon Pie, and Strawberry Galette (which is French for ze pie for Yanquis who do not own good French pie pans or know how to make a formidable crimp). We also got to share a Nectarine-Blackberry Pie she made earlier in the day. This is not meant to be a review of the class, but I have to say this was the best pie crust I’ve ever had. Buttery. Flaky. Not too sweet. Usually I can’t wait to dig into the fruit filling of a pie, but with this crust is a star on its own. Melanie can back me up on this because I brought a couple of slices home that night. This crust was so good, we had to quiet our own cursing so the Boy wouldn’t wake up.
This was not the first time I’ve made pie. I love pumpkin pie and can’t imagine a Thanksgiving, or really a November, without one. So I try to make at least one every year. But I don’t think I’ve ever made a fruit pie and had yet to settle on a crust that was completely satisfying. I used to use the Joy of Cooking’s Deluxe Butter Pie Dough which is certainly good and have also enjoyed the shortening-based Pie Crust recipe my mother-in-law passed down to me from her mother. No offense meant to my mother-in-law or mamaw-in-law, but I think I’ve found the pie dough recipe I will be using from here on out.
As it’s summer and all of the best fruits are coming out to play, I’ve gotten back into making jams. I’ve already put up some strawberry preserves and had planned to make a cardamom plum jam that I found in the book Canning for a New Generation: Bold, Fresh Flavors for the Modern Pantry by Lianna Krissoff (highly recommend this book, by the way) but after taking this pie-making class I decided to use those plums for a cardamom plum pie.
I don’t really make up recipes. There are so many good ones available and my main attractions to baking are 1) the chance to understand another mystery of culinary science, and b) the thrill of stuffing tasty treats into my loved ones’ pie-holes. However, thanks to recent cookbook reads, I’ve been inspired to experiment with recipes, especially after the first-time through. I’ll taste and take notes on what could be improved the next go-round. My hope was that the plum pie would give me another chance to make that butter-lovin’ pie crust and to learn from any mistakes so I could make Megan’s Blueberry-Lemon Pie while in Michigan. We have plans to take the little cousins out to pick fresh blueberries so a blueberry pie could make good use of whatever we manage to get back to the rental.
So here’s what I tried and what I learned.
I made Megan’s pie dough and rolled out one disk to line the pie dish and a second disk for a lattice top. Both disks of dough cracked quite a bit when I rolled them out requiring much mending, which I thought meant the dough was too dry. But I asked Megan and she suggested that the dough was too cold. Next time, after I remove the dough from the fridge, I’ll wait a little longer before rolling it out. That being said, I think the crust came out looking quite stunning.
For the filling, I used 5 cups of sliced black and Red Raven plums (which was about 10 plums), ¼ cup of sugar, ¼ cup of flour, 1 teaspoon of ground cardamom, most of the juice from one lime, and a pinch of salt. The plums came out of the oven tasting tart and delicious and the cardamom was light enough to be enjoyed without overpowering the plums. But the tartness of the plums was too much. With arms twisted, we had to add a scoop of vanilla ice cream to each slice just to cut the tartness. Next time, I’ll double the sugar in the filling and, upon Megan’s suggestion, replace the lime juice with lemon juice. I also might add another couple of plums to round out the top of the pie. I really liked how in the class, Megan’s pies looked over-stuffed with fruit. The amount I had used this round reached just over the lip of the crust.
When we get back from our trip, I’m going to try the plum pie again so you’re all invited over for a slice if you can make it in time.
Are any of you seasoned pie makers? Or has anyone else taken advantage of this summer’s fruit? I’d love to hear any other pie stories you’d like to share.
*sk! is of course a contraction** of just kidding! IFG is actually really considerate and thoughtful.
**Try saying just kidding over and over again really really fast and you’ll understand.