Thanking Barbara

written by liz on Wednesday, July 30 2008

I decided to make a pie for Barbara to thank her for all her help making Alex's cape. Our pear tree is heavy with fruit, and I thought it a perfect chance to share the harvest. But… the pears were not ripe. So, I decided upon a nectarine raspberry pie and a strawberry rhubarb pie-- most of the fruit came from San Rafael Farmers Market Festival.

My friend Caroline taught me to make pie crust a couple Thanksgivings ago (thanks Caroline) and I find that the more pies I make, the easier it gets.

I used Martha Stewart’s recipe for the crust. It is easy and delicious. On the nectarine raspberry pie, I made a fancy lattice crust that is easier than it looks to make. I consulted the book Pie which has an excellent diagram and directions on how to do lattice crust. 

My pie resume is varied but short. I can count the pies I have made on two hands: one lemon meringue, two pumpkin, one apple cranberry, one chocolate peanut butter, one strawberry rhubarb, one olallieberry streusel, and finally one jumble berry (mixture of strawberry, blackberry, raspberry). 

The jumble berry pie I made just last week.  It was the first pie I've made in over a year. It was tasty but not exactly beautiful. I made the mistake of not chilling the dough long enough and then rolling it out on the counter near my oven so the dough got too warm and didn’t roll out well. The heat from the oven really screwed it up. It was falling apart and didn’t transfer to the pie pan in one piece. I used my Emile Henry pie pan, which is gorgeous, but too big for the dough I rolled out. This resulted in a crust that was too small and slipped down the edge of the pan. It was pretty pitiful looking and after I filled and baked it, the crust got too  brown. Tasty enough, but pretty pathetic looking. I could not bring myself to photograph it. 

Practice is what I needed. So later in the week, I tried again (Sam helped work the Cuisinart and also with measuring the ingredients for the pie crust). This time it turned out to be so much more successful. The second batch of pies were so pretty!  Have a look at the pie day! And I mean day- as in, it took the better part of the day (with a few playground breaks and a trip to the grocery store). So don't get swept up in a pie fantasy unless you have some time on your hands. It is worth it if you do.


 Overexcited pastry chef Roll it, PAT it....  Nectarine and vanilla bean pie filling Strawberry rhubarb pie filling

   Ready to roll! MMMMMM Butter! lattice work


I took the warm pie, out of the oven and delivered it to Barbara next door. It was late, and I probably should have waited till morning but I know she has a sweet tooth and I wanted her to have it when it was still warm. 

She tried to tell me she was going to cut it in half and send me home with half so the boys could have some. I told her I made two and dashed out the door before she could refuse the whole pie.  I told her how much I appreciated her and said that I hoped that she enjoyed it. Most importantly, I told her I loved her.


Some things I learned on pie day:

  • Make the dough ahead of time. The recipe says to let it chill for an hour in the fridge before rolling, but I let dough sit most of the day in the fridge before rolling. It made a big difference. When I rolled it, it was the right thickness and beautifully even.
  • I chilled my marble rolling pin in fridge for a while before rolling out the dough.
  • I rolled the dough on a counter far enough away from oven so that my dough did not get warm. Cant say it enough. KEEP THE DOUGH COLD!
  • I used a simple glass pyrex pan that I bought from the grocery store for under $6.
  • I rolled the dough on my Silpat, and once the dough was rolled into the right size, I picked up the mat, turned it over and peeled off the crust to placed it into the pie pan
  • A pizza cutter with a zig-zag edge makes a pretty detailed edge on the lattice work
  • Giving a pie (made with love) as a thank you gift is good for the soul (for the giver and the recipient)

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