“As easy as pie”â€”it was surely a man who has coined this simile, a man who has only eaten and never made pie. For a really good pie, a pie with a flaky, light, delicious crust, a tasty fruit or spicy sweet potato or pumpkin or mince filling, is by no means easy to make. In fact the merely average cook shies away from making pies. It is only the expert who knows how to conquer all difficulties, or the amateur who does not realize them, who light-heartedly goes at the task to bake a pie. Lucky for those who delight in this type of pastryâ€”and there is hardly any one who is not partial to piesâ€”both experts and amateurs succeed more often than they fail. There must be a special culinary fairy who watches over pie-makers.
But if you wish to take the element of chance entirely out of your pie-making and to become 100 per cent successful, follow the following simple instructions, which have been laboriously written out by an unlettered cook whose pies are so delicious that great men and charming women come to her to pay her homage and to learn her secret. What she has to say is interesting and instructive.
The crust is the pie, she insists, and to make good pie-crust one has to use winter wheat flour, also called pastry flour. It makes the pastry more tender than the usual bread flour. Everything needed in the preparation of the dough must be very cold, and the dough itself must be kept cold and handled as little as possible. For the usual pie-crust one needs one cup of this special flour, one-quarter teaspoon salt, one-quarter cup shortening and one-quarter cup ice water. Salt and flour are sifted together, the shortening must be cut in with a large knife or a wooden spatula. The dough must be neither sticky nor crumbly and must be easily lifted from the mixing bowl in one mass. It is best to chill it in the ice box before rolling it out. After chilling, toss it on a floured board and roll lightly, always maintaining a circular shape. Roll very thin and make your circle larger than the pie-plate you are going to use. Place carefully over the tin and flatten the dough to the plate to press out air. For single crust pies build up a ridge and flute the edge with a fork. For double crust pie no edge is built up and the larger upper dough layer is put over the filling and perforated so that the steam may escape while baking. That is, according to this expert, the perfect pie-crust recipe. Another time we will report her instructions on pie fillings.