Saturday night, when I was scuffing my way back upstairs to go to bed, I was distinctly relieved that it really wasn't one in the morning. Yesterday, however, when I looked at our shop clock and thought it was already 4:30 I was elated. Instead of sitting down to blog I decided to go ahead and start the end of the night clean up: sweeping, spraying counters, re-stocking etc. Then, I realized I was being royally screwed by the battery operated, re-cycled time piece on the window sill. It wasn't anywhere close to closing time. The realization made me a little nauseated; not because I dislike work but because I fell for the oldest mind-trap in the book: the time change. I've eaten a dozen samples to make up for it-what I wouldn't give for a potato chip or bag of popcorn right now. But, at least I have the time to scribble down this post before I head home to bake a batch of biscotti.
As much as I'm not in the mood to talk about desserts right now, I'll see what I can do. It has been a while since we foraged into the world of pie crust, purchased or homemade, but don't worry, even if you don't fancy yourself a pie aficionado these crust recipes are very simple to make and easy to use. Plus, if you're not into making your own crust you can always... you know, buy some. Not that you heard that from me; I have been making pie crust since before I could teethe. That is not to say my crust doesn't tear sometimes, or that I don't throw a fit and slip in a few foul words as I re-roll it. Nobody is perfect. If you're in a pinch, just try the graham cracker crust (a variation on this) for a fool proof base. There isn't much that is more impressive, or better at showing your friends and loved ones just how much you care, than a from-scratch pie. Imagine it: the applause.
Notes on making pie crust: I chose this roll-out crust because it is the easiest dough I have found to prepare and to roll out. I even popped my dough (in the pie dish) in the refrigerator to chill the dough a little before baking, and because I forgot the sweetened condensed milk. Oops. If you've never made pie crust from scratch before, this is the place to start-it takes all of 15 clumsy minutes to make.
Roll-out, traditional pie crust
From Pillsbury: Best Desserts
1 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup shortening (butter flavored or vegetable)
2-4 tablespoons ice water
1. Combine the flour and salt. Using a fork blend the shortening into the flour mixture until it resembles course crumbs and the shortening is well distributed.
2. Add the water, one tablespoon at a time, mixing lightly with a fork. Add enough water until the dough is just moist enough to form a ball (I used 2 1/2 tablespoons). The dough should not be too wet or it will become sticky.
3. Shape the dough into a ball and roll out between two sheets of lightly floured waxed paper, using a rolling pin. When the dough is 1/2 inch thick remove the top layer of waxed paper and lay the pastry into your pie plate.
4. Gently, fit the crust into the pan (trying not to stretch it if it doesn't fit exactly). If you get tears or splits return your crust to the waxed paper and repeat step 3.
5. Using a fork, or your left and right thumbs, press the dough to create a decorative edge (see photo). Then, use a knife pressed against the edge of the pie plate to cut away the excess crust.
6. Fill and bake as directed below.
Gingersnap Cookie Crust
12 ounces gingersnap cookies
6 tablespoons melted butter
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1. Pulse the gingersnaps in a food processor until they are finely ground.
2. Melt the butter in a microwave safe bowl. Add the butter to the cookie crumbs and mix with a fork until they are totally moistened.
3. Press the cookie crumbs into the pan, using the base of a juice glass to pack the crumbs into the pan and up the sides.
4. Fill with your pie filling and bake as directed.
Pumpkin pie (filling)
1/4 cup sugar1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon cloves
2 large eggs
1 (15 ounce) can pumpkin
1 (12 ounce) can evaporated milk
1. Preheat the oven to 425.
2. Mix the sugar, salt, cinnamon, ginger and cloves in a small bowl.
3. Beat eggs in a large bowl. Stir in pumpkin and sugar-spice mixture. Gradually, stir in the evaporated milk.
4. Pour the pie mixture into the pie shell.
5. Bake at 425 degrees for 15 minutes. Reduce the temperature to 350 and continue baking 40-50 minutes or until a knife inserted in the center of the pie comes out clean.
6. Cool on a wire wrack for 2 hours. Serve cool or refrigerate.
Substitution: 1 3/4 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice