Hi there. I’m back. Well, I’ve been back for over a week now, but a nasty souvenir head cold clogged the synapses with gunk, and any thought of cognitive thought was snotty at best. A souvenir you say? You went someplace? Yup, two weeks ago I made a trip two years in the making. I went back home.
I need to rephrase that. My home is wherever I am, which at the present time happens to be in the left-hand corner of the map. I went back, after a two-year absence, to the places I called home for a very long time.
Choice and circumstance kept me away for those two years. Circumstance, because to be blunt, I wasn’t making enough to afford the trip. Choice, well that’s a bit more complicated. After doing something big and scary like picking up and going someplace you’ve never been, to do something you’ve never done, (and aren’t even quite sure you can do), it takes time to adjust. Going “back home” too soon, especially when you are knee-deep in doubt, is like waving a giant bag of jelly beans in front of a diabetic. “Screw this insanity, hell YES I’ll move back” is just too tempting. Luckily I had the occasional clarity of thought to know that. Clarity, and a crap-load of cardboard in my basement reminding me of just how much stuff I removed from the east and transported to the west. Resolution of thought and the dread of packing are powerful things.
What does all of this have to do with pie? It seems EVERYTHING I do has something to do with pie. I sell pie. I keep posting pictures of adorable little pies on the internet. Facebook, Instagram, and other assorted inter web spots are papered (screened?) in my pies. I’ve brought this upon myself, I know. I’m trying to build a business on a shoestring, butter and flour. And hate it or love it, this social media stuff is mostly free advertising. I’m all about the mostly free. Now imagine all of the folks back home following my on-line tartscapades, hitting “like”, making yummy and drooly comments, etc. Fast forward to the pie-er actually showing up in front of some of those droolers. Guess what they ask. Go ahead. “Where’s MY PIE?!” Ok, perhaps it was a little subtler than that, but picture a puppy as you are walking out the door after you’ve just said “ok now, be good, I’ll be back soon.” You know that “ok, but where’s my cookie” look? Exactly.
I truly don’t mind. I mean, I’m with the people who know me best and still love me. I love making them pie. They get a little slice of me, and a little slice of just what the hell I’ve been doing way out here. If butter, flour, fruit and sugar is the currency for the hospitality of my family and friends, so be it. Truth be told, I offer it up as much as it’s requested. It’s pretty cool to be known for something as magical as pie. Plus there isn’t much better than catching up after a long time away from the girls over a slice of flakey goodness. It answers the “so what have you been doing the past two years” question quite effectively. Call it the sisterhood of the traveling tarts if you like (on second thought, please don’t). If itinerant pieing is what I need to do when I come back for a visit, then bake on I say. Can’t think of a better way to share the love with my peeps.
And as far as sticking around here in the upper left corner? Yes I am, at least for now. I just renewed my kitchen license, the lease where that kitchen lives, and am in the process of planning new pie exploits for the CIMH Kitchen. Yet as any true itinerant pie-er knows, plans can change in a heartbeat, but you’re always welcome to set up camp wherever you go. Just remember to bring pie. ;-)
There really isn’t much to making a pie, especially a one-crust pie. You don’t even need a pie tin. A cookie sheet and piece of parchment is about all the equipment it takes. Heck, you don’t even need to make pie dough, although I think I’ve shown you over the many many times pie has shown up here that’s not too tough either. Making crust too daunting? Buy one, or a box of puff pastry if you prefer. This is pretty much technique, not recipe. Pie crust + fruit + sugar + some crumbs under the fruit to sop up juices + hot oven (400F hot) = PIE. However, since this is technically a recipe blog (kinda, sorta) here are some tips for tasty tarting you might find helpful.
- Terminology: Pie, crostata, tart, galette. All ways of saying pie to me. Therefore, I use them interchangeably. You want to get technical? Crostata (Italian) and galette (French) are usually freeform, without a pie tin. Tarts tend to be baked in a pan, though not always. This is way too complicated. Call it pie. Pie is good.
- See that fancy looking crust? Not too tough either. It’s just a question of starting in one spot, and keep folding over a little bit of edge til you reach where you started. Like this: (*NOTE: this video was made a year ago for a smaller individual pie, not the larger one I have pictures of in this post – no worries, just make smaller folds. The technique, and optional Ed Sullivan plate spinning music singing are the same.)
- Your fruit not perfect? Sprinkle it with sugar, let it sit about 30 minutes.
- Want a crunchy sweet crust? Sprinkle it with sugar before it goes in the oven. And don’t forget to sprinkle a teaspoon or few over the fruit before it goes in the oven too, even if you’ve let the fruit sit sugared a little.
- How do you know when it’s done? Bubbly is a good indicator, brown crust is better. Don’t be timid. Beige is not pie crust’s friend, golden brown is. If you think it’s done, give it another 3-5 minutes (and DON’T walk away.) Trust me on this, you won’t regret it.
- Leftovers (yeah, right…): Don’t refrigerate. Don’t wrap airtight unless you are planning to freeze. Leave on counter, lightly covered with a piece of wax paper or parchment. Airtight means soggy crust.
- Freezing: Yes, both pre and post baking. You can bake an unbaked tart directly from freezer, just give it a bit more time in the oven. Want to bake off a bunch of small crostata and reheat as needed?Go right ahead. Make sure they have cooled completely, then put in freezer bag and stow.
- Reheating: 350F oven, for about 15 minutes from freezer should crisp up that crust nicely. It won’t be as good as it is right out of the oven fresh, but it’s pretty damn good regardless.
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