Happy Pie Day!
So today, January 23 is National Pie Day! Or so Paul Hollywood informed me on Facebook. I did google it for confirmation. I didn’t want to be accused to delivering #fake news, or worse yet, #alternative facts. So yes. Today, January 23 is National Pie Day! Now this is not to be confused with National PI Day on March 14, a day that gets mathematicians all atwitter.
Pie is one of my first loves. As a kid, my birthday cake was a lattice top cherry pie. Buttery and flaky on the outside with a fresh, tart fruit filling inside, I am a pie girl all the way. #pieforlife
“Baking is too technical!”
I hear non-bakers say on a very regular basis. “I like to cook because I’m creative!” “Bake a pie” is is always my retort. Yes, there is a little technique involved, but it is visceral and logical, and there is so much creativity! You need limited ingredients and the very act of making pastry will take out of your head and connect you to your hands.
I believe that if I can teach someone to successfully make pie crust a few times, I can change their life – just a little.
Making pastry – and by extension, pie – teaches to you to:
You have to stop thinking about the end result and focus on the fat, flour, and water in your hands.
You can follow the exact same steps, use exactly the same measurements, exercise an identical technique, and your pastry will still behave just a little bit differently each time. Perhaps it’s because of the weather, or a different brand of flour, or the temperature in your hands. Something that isn’t on your radar will make your pastry too sticky, or too dry, AND that’s ok. Because you learned to be grounded and your focus is on your hands not your head, you can calmly add more flour. Or more water. And you know it will all be ok. Change is good.
You are making a pie because you want to eat pie now. But you can’t. That pastry needs to rest in the fridge for 2 hours before you can use it. And that’s ok. And it might need to be blind baked (you bake the crust without the filling it first) and cooled, too. The best things in life take time. Think about your relationships with the people you love. Except for your immediate family, you had to meet these people. You had to get to know them. And one day, after a lengthy amount of time passes, you realize you love them, and that they were well worth the wait. Pie is like that. Pie is well worth the wait. And I know, patience is a hard lesson to learn.
We are always on the go these days. If you want a coffee, you can grab one on your way to work. It doesn’t matter that you ran out of filters at home three weeks ago. Coffee is fast, available, and convenient. If learning patience is hard, who not mitigate that with a bit of planning. Did you know you can freeze pastry? Yes! Wrapped up in plastic wrap – and then in a freezer bag labelled with the date (come on, let’s be organized as well!) – for three months! One lazy Sunday afternoon when the weather is telling you to stay indoors, make pastry. Make a few batches. Wrap them up, freeze them, and defrost them in the fridge the night before – or the morning of – the day you want to make pie.
Follow Your Heart
You have to choose a filling for this pie. You can’t leave it empty. So, what does your heart say? And the great news is that there are no wrong answers. If you like pears and blueberries, make a pear and blueberry pie. Rhubarb and raisin? Chocolate and Banana? Or how about savoury? Chicken and Mushroom? Fish with green peas? Broccoli and Gorgonzola? The possibilities are endless and the only question you have to ask is ‘Do I like this combination of flavours?’ And then you can also get creative and play with the crust on top. Will it be a plain full crust? Or lattice? Or cut-outs? You could braid the pastry and make your own unique pattern. Pie is all about you and what makes you happy.
So, in honour of National Pie Day, here is my gift to you. Here is my favourite pastry recipe. It’s mostly Julia Child and it’s filled with tips I picked up along the way.
Hapy Pie Day!!!