This is speed writing at its best, so don’t expect me to be clever and charming. My two young granddaughters are here for a couple of weeks and there is little time to sit and write, but we did find time to make this yummy pie for a friend’s housewarming party.
8 year old Sophie couldn’t quite get the hang of the pastry blender, so we used our (clean) fingers to blend the shortening into the flour. Also, I didn’t take time to chill the pie crust pastry, and we were working at mach speed, but we were still tickled with the results. I’m sure Martha Stewart wouldn’t have dripped any raspberry juice on the top crust, and Paula Deen would have used lard instead of shortening, but you have to admit it looks appetizing.
For the house we pressed pie dough into a mold I use for chocolate houses at Christmas, and created a lattice crust. For the lattice, I drew a circle a little bigger than the pie pan on the counter with a pencil, put a piece of waxed paper over the circle, and wove the dough, then trimmed it to size. Hearts around the house instead of the lattice would have been cute, and much easier. Of course, we thought of that after the pie came out of the oven. Oh well.
I love to create designs and scenes in pie crust. Here are pictures of two pies I’ve made using that technique. The pie with the farm scene won a blue ribbon at the fair, even though the little pig in the center started sinking into the “mud” on the drive to the fairgrounds, and was just barely sticking his snout out by the time we got there. Maybe it was cuter that way!
My go-to pie crust recipe has been around forever. It goes by different names, but is usually called “Never Fail Pie Crust.” I usually have a psychological need to prove that I am inept enough to screw up anything that says it’s foolproof, but this recipe actually is a gem – and turns out flaky every time, even when I’ve had to re-roll it.
Never Fail Pie Crust
(makes 2 crusts)
1 cup chilled shortening
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon vodka (or vinegar if you prefer)
1/4 cup milk
Mix flour and salt in medium bowl. Cut in the shortening until it looks like coarse crumbs.
Mix vodka into milk. Combine all at once into flour mixture.
This can be rolled into crusts immediately, or flattened into disks and placed between sheets of plastic wrap and chilled first in the refrigerator.
Pastry for two pie crusts
5 cups raspberries
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup MINUTE tapioca, preferably ground in a coffee or spice grinder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
Milk to brush on the pastry
Coarse sugar crystals (optional)
Roll out half of the pastry dough and place it in a pie pan. Fold the edge under, flute it, and place the pan in the refrigerator. Roll out the other half of the dough and form it into strips for a lattice crust, or cut out shapes to “float” on top of the pie. Get creative here! Refrigerate.
In a large bowl, combine the raspberries, sugar, tapioca, salt, cinnamon, and lemon juice and let the mixture sit for 15 minutes to soften the tapioca.
Heat the oven to 400 degrees F.
Remove the pie pan from the refrigerator and pour the berry mixture into it.
Top with your dough designs. Brush with a little milk and sprinkle with sugar crystals, if desired.
Bake at 400 degrees F for 10 minutes, then turn the oven down to 350 degrees F and continue cooking for approximately 40 minutes, or until the crust is golden brown. Let it cool to lukewarm, then serve with a little vanilla ice cream. Do the happy dance!
I have to admit that I’m not a real fan of pies, which is probably why I am just now discovering how much fun they are to make. It’s been all about cakes and cookies for me because that’s what I love to eat, and because my crusts were always hit-and-miss…not exactly inspired. I usually opted for a crunchy streusel topping if I did make a pie, because I couldn’t trust myself to make an edible (or attractive) top crust. If you have the same concerns, try this pie crust and watch your confidence soar!