My oh my, I love a good pie. Seriously. I can't think of anything I've prepared that is more gratifying than a homemade pie. It is a dying art, and something that most people associate with their mom, grandma, or just older women in general. I grew up with homemade pies, and didn't even know store-bought pie crust existed until I started reading cooking magazines in college (this is no lie). Like homemade pizza dough, I think people are scared of pie crust in general. It sounds so daunting to roll it out, transfer it, carefully decorate it, etc. I am here to tell you that pie crust is actually pretty forgiving. I have made many an ugly pie that left me feeling exasperated when I put it in the oven, only to find it a beautiful masterpiece when it was done. There is just something magical that happens in the oven, I think.
I made mention in a previous post of what a wonderful pie baker my grandmother was--it was just her thing. She made pies all the time, for any occasion, and rarely just one at a time. I once brought her with me to church where I was working with my OT professor during my mental health fieldwork placement (we had a cafe where the mental health clients, students, and said professor served a gourmet meal to about 75 people each week) and she cranked out ten (TEN!) pies to serve one night like it was no big deal. Pie making is just a small piece of her legacy, but it is one I hold especially dear.
My pie repertoire isn't anywhere near the scope of my grandma's, mostly because my husband doesn't like cream pies. I adore macadamia nut cream pie (my mom's deal), chocolate cream, coconut cream, etc. I love me some pudding. But--I am not about to make one of those types just for myself, so I typically make a double crust fruit filled pie. Apple, cranberry pear (surprisingly good), peach, peach praline, and my hubby's fave--strawberry rhubarb. I've workedhard to perfect that filling, and love anything with rhubarb in it. When I came across a recipe for Blueberry Rhubarb Pie in an insert in the Sunday paper last spring, I knew I'd have to give it a try. I found it tucked in my nightstand drawer last week and remembered the last of the summer rhubarb in the freezer. You can imagine my particular delight when I also remembered a bag of blueberries my friend brought me from MO still sitting in that same freezer. Yes, the time was right. And it was oh so right, indeed. This pie was truly glorious, beautiful in color, and just the right balance of sweet/tart. Pure pie heaven, people.
-adapted from relish.com (adapted because I had a different ratio of blueberries to rhubarb, so I cut back on the sugar)
- 3 T granulated sugar
- 1/4 c. light brown sugar
- 1/4 t. salt
- 1/4 c. quick cooking tapioca (in the baking aisle, close to the pudding)
- 2 c. diced rhubarb
- 4 c. blueberries
- 2 pie crusts (don't tell me if you use store bought, please. I don't want to know. Use your favorite recipe, I'll include Grammy's below)
Combine sugars, salt, and tapioca in a large bowl. Mix well, add fruit, and toss to coat. Mound mixture in pie crust, top with second crust, trim, turn under, and crimp. Bake 20 minutes at 400 degrees. Reduce temp to 350 and bake an additional 25-30 min until pie is golden and juices are bubbling (mine took longer. I like a crisp crust)
Isn't it lovely?
OK, let's back track a bit and talk crust. This is the only place in my life where I have room for Crisco (butter-flavored). I know that sounds just horrible, but my grandmother told me she tried every fat method of making pies (lard, real butter, plain Crisco, etc) and that this was the best in her opinion. So, out of respect and adoration for her it is what I use (even though my brain tells me to use real butter). Carry on as you wish.
Grammy's Pie Crust
- 2 c. flour
- 2/3 plus 2T. butter flavored Crisco (I use the sticks and just use 3/4 c.)
- 1/2 t. salt
- 5-6 T. ice cold water (put some water and a few ice cubes in a small bowl)
Cut butter flavored Crisco into flour and salt using a pastry blender until it resembles coarse meal. Sprinkle with water (start with 5 T) and stir until it starts to come together. Form into a ball with your hands. Add the other tablespoon of water and/or more flour if you need it. Your ability to judge this will come with practice. You want the dough to be cohesive, but not wet and sticky. Cut into two balls (make one a tiny bit larger--this will be the top crust). Once you have rolled out your bottom crust, carefully transfer to a well-sprayed pie plate, and fill as you wish. Roll out the top crust a bit larger to that it will hang over the sides. Before you transfer it to the pie, make it pretty (i.e. cut some slits, or make a couple x's so that you vent the pie). Once you trim and crimp the edges (to seal the pie), don't forget one last step: brush the crust with milk and sprinkle with some granulated sugar (to your liking--we like it crunchy, so I probably use 1-2 T). This makes it brown and crisp up beautifully.
I'll leave you with a bit of encouragement that Grammy left me with (written in her handwriting on a recipe card where she shared the crust with me): "A good pie is a labor of love. Don't give up--try, try again!"