Tuesday, January 25, 2011 at 9:46PM
This is the 10th entry in our Month of Pie. Pie Month is a celebration of things we love. Because life is hard, and there should always be more pie. Have a look at the other entries. Really.
Pie #1 - Lemon Cream Icebox Pie
Pie #2 - Malted Crisp Tart
Pie #7 - Chocolate Kahlua Pie
Pie #8 - Bacon and Egg Pizza
The very foundation of pie has always proved my Achilles heel.
I can’t make crust. Karen can, and her crusts are always perfect. It’s kind of offensive, really, when your wife can make a pie crust that is 100x better than your own, especially when you, I, try so hard to get it right. And for years, I swore off homemade crusts, and just purchased them pre-made, ready to bake.
But no more. No more shall my crusts hang in sorrow. No more shall I wince when pie tasters ask how I made my crust. No more pie crust shame, my friends, no more crust shame.
My new secret weapon of a crust comes straight from Melissa Clark, writer of all things wonderful. Melissa is a new friend of ours on Twitter, and she’s the best thing that’s happened to our family in recent memory. Her latest book, In the Kitchen with A Good Appetite, is so very special, and it made loads of “best of 2010” cookbooks lists. Deservedly. Her writing is wickedly perfect, thoughtful, funny, spot-on happy. Every one of her pieces is a discovery for her. And you want to go on every one of those journeys with her.
If you’re not reading her column in the NYTimes, you’re missing something special.
And if you’re not making her crusts, you life is empty and so very sad.
This crust, all butter or with a cut of animal fat (duck fat in our case), is flakier than you deserve. Simple as anything you’ve ever made in a food processor. Not at all fussy and no work at all (yes, you roll it out later, but that builds character). No soggy bottoms to boot. Really, she deserves thanks from all the pie-eating world for perfecting the crust.
And then her cherry pie recipe with a twice-baked crust. Reading her account of making a delightful recipe even better made me want to try my hand at it, too. But there were no sour cherries to be found, unless I wanted to spend a fortune to buy 10 pounds of cherries and have them shipped to our house (I did, but I knew better than to raise it with Karen).
So on a whim at the grocery store, I grabbed a few bags of frozen raspberries, wondering if I might substitute them for the cherries. Raspberry pie in the middle of winter seemed like a swell fantasy. Now to see if we could make it a reality...
Melissa’s recipe calls for kirsch or brandy. Since we were using raspberries, Chambord seemed like a good substitute. Karen’s favorite drink is a take on a kir royale (we use Prosecco and Chambord, which seems more than fine). So Chambord is always on hand here.
And because of the juciness of frozen raspberries which seem to gush red tears everywhere, I added in the full amounth of ground up instant tapioca.
The results? The most wonderful, thrilling raspberry pie. You must. You must make this.
In Melissa’s recipe, she calls for circles of cut out dough to be placed on top, forming a beautiful double crust. Given that we have yet to put away the holiday cookie cutters and we had no circular cutters, my choices were a star, a Christmas tree, Santa, or a candy cane. I opted for the star, channeling my inner county fair pie maker. A little cream dabbed on each star, a little sugar for a punch of shine. It could be July 4th, even in the dead of winter.
So this is a thank you note to Melissa Clark, for wonderful writing, perfect pie crusts, and the inspiration and encouragement to go make great food.
recipe | The best pie crust ever from Melissa Clark
recipe | Use Melissa's Sour Cherry Pie recipe exactly, but substitute an equal amount of frozen raspberries for the cherries, Chambord for the brandy/kirsch, and use the full amount of tapioca