“You made this pie crust from scratch? You know how to do that?”
It seems making homemade pie crust is becoming a lost skill, and I don’t know why.
How did crust-making achieve such lofty esteem? What abominable crust-making horrors could wayward chefs possibly have experienced? It doesn’t explode. It’s no easier than anything else to burn. It would be hard to catch on fire. Even if it was tough, it’s too thin to break a tooth on. The process is not rocket science. It’s not even long division. It can be mixed, rolled out and put in a pan in just a few minutes.
What exactly has people everywhere so scared to try to make a pie crust? Why is the most common pie crust advice that I see, “Have a glass of wine before you start”?
I can think of only one person who has legitimate reason to fear pie crust, and that is my mother.
See, I come from a long line of pie crust makers. My grandma and my great-grandma both were always making pie. They didn’t measure their ingredients; they mixed it by sight and feel. Grandma took great pleasure in making them for others.
“Let’s make your Grandpa a pie,” she would suggest to me. “He loves pie.”
Pie-making wasn’t her only hobby. Grandma also entertained herself by torturing small children. My brother and I weren’t her first victims. Long before she spat on her palm and rubbed it on our arms in circles to roll our arm hair into tiny, vexing little knots, she tortured her own daughter, my mom.
One day, my 5-year-old mom was playing while Grandma was rolling out a pie crust. Grandma decided to get creative with that pie crust, so she cut herself some eye holes and threw it over her face. She tied it on with a scarf and put on a big overcoat, then slipped out the back door to creep around to the front door and scare my mom.
My mom vividly remembers looking out the window and seeing the dough-faced stranger walking up to the door. But what doesn’t kill you just makes you stronger, and she, too, became fearless of pie crusts.
I asked Grandma to teach me her tricks. Her methods of “Well, you throw in a few handfuls of flour and about this much salt…” seemed too vague for comfort. But she showed me how to use my fingers to flute the edge and how with a fruit pie she liked to roll the crust extra big for the pan and fold all the excess in over the top of the filling then sprinkle the top with sugar before baking.
“Don’t worry about how it looks, it will taste divine,” she advised.
Nowadays the holiday pie is my signature dish. It’s one revered tradition I’m happy to carry on, especially since I now know how easy it is.
Overland Park mom and 913 freelancer Emily Parnell blogs at mom2momkc.com.