Testing a recipe can often be a mental exercise that you just didn’t bargain for.
I was reminded of that the other day as I went about trying out a recipe from “Real Simple: Easy, Delicious Meals” (Real Simple Books, $27.95).
I was intrigued by the sounds of a Summer Fruit Pie filled with strawberries, peaches and lemon juice. But I was even more interested in the pie crust recipe, which included a touch of white vinegar mixed with egg in addition to a half-and-half mixture of shortening and butter. My filling would make it a Blueberry-Dewberry Pie, only because I would be using fruit I had on hand.
But would the crust be real simple? The directions said that all you had to do was mix the flour, salt, butter and shortening in the food processor before slowly adding the egg-vinegar mixture. Then divide the dough in half and refrigerate. Simple, yes.
You could see that coming, right? The humidity has been so great lately that the dough came out far, far stickier than I had hoped for. I wasn’t going to throw it away, so I let the crust rest in the refrigerator for several hours, more than the 1 hour that the recipe recommended.
It was still awfully moist when I removed it from the fridge – and so was the air in the house from the AC running on high and the rain pouring down steadily outside.
Yet, I rolled it out into a circle that would fill the pie plate. Though the board was heavily floured to keep it from sticking and I used a cake froster to loosen it, the crust fell apart the moment I tried to lift it. (I’ll insert here that I don’t make many pie crusts. The time involved isn’t worth it to me, as I far prefer the fruit filling to the carb-heavy crust, no matter how good it is. Give me a good, buttery cobbler any day.)
The fruit was ready, so I had to make something with it. That’s when I decided to treat the dough as if I were making a tart, something I do quite frequently. I merely took the pieces and pressed them into the bottom and sides of the pan, making sure they were all pressed together into a whole. Then I filled the shell with the fruit. I rolled out the second pie crust, except I made the circle a little smaller. I got half of it to go on top of the pie in one piece. Again, I pieced together the rest of the dough into what looked like a single sheet and crimped the top and bottom together.
Wherever there was a truly ugly spot, I made sure to use it for a vent, knowing that the juices inside might bubble up and cover any major imperfections. After all, pie doesn’t have to be beautiful, it just has to taste good.
(Freshly whipped cream is another cosmetic in desserts that covers a multitude of homemade sins while adding richness and incomparable flavor.)
The end result was rustic yet beautiful, and perfect for dinner with friends.
So, would I try the crust again? Sure. It was simple, as it was supposed to be. I liked the tiniest bit of acidity that the vinegar brought to the crust. (You’d never know it was there unless you made it yourself.) But I would cut back on the liquid, especially if the day or the setting is as humid as what we’ve been experiencing lately.