To Pie or Not To Pie

A Vic Firth rolling pin

Having a dough ready to roll can make the difference between making or not making a pie.

Sometimes you just gotta make a pie and nothing else will do.

  • A friend in need.
  • A birthday.
  • An anniversary celebration.
  • A potluck gathering with friends.
  • The school bake sale.
  • A welcome for a new neighbor.

Aren’t there times when you would just love to go into the kitchen and get right to rolling out the dough without all that flying flour that can make your kitchen look rather…creative? And waiting for the dough’s chilling time? Well. sometimes I want that dough to be ready NOW.

Several years ago, I REALLY needed to have dough made pronto!

Read on for the whole story which does have a happy and unexpected ending.

As part of an auction item, I was asked to supply two pies for a very fancy in-home dinner. The memory of what non-profit organization the dinner was going to benefit is long forgotten, but the unfortunate mishap that took place JUST before the dinner was to begin is something I will always remember.

After making two lattice crust blackberry pies from berries lovingly picked at one of my most favorite sweet spots, I carefully placed them, still warm, on trays in the back of my car for safe travel to the address I had been given. The rest of the multi-course meal would be prepared on-site.

As I arrived, I could see the sun dancing on the water with a glorious late afternoon sparkle plus an unobstructed view of the Olympic Mountains off to the West that this waterfront home enjoyed. Classic Northwest!

I parked, walked up to the door and before I could knock, it was opened by an official looking woman asking if I needed any carrying help. With more than just pie on the menu, equipment and ingredients had to be schlepped inside, too, so I immediately took her up on her kind offer. I suggested that the pies be carried in separately, but she confidently replied that she could handle both of them easily.

I should have stopped her right then. Can you guess what happened next?

Yup, she turned and within a few steps lost control of the tray and both pies…my beautiful lattice crust blackberry pies…fell and landed on the ground…upside down. Ruined!

She was deeply chagrinned and I was wondering just how to pull off making new pies with limited time and space in a kitchen where an entire meal was to be prepared.

This is a moment when you pray that good fortune will rise up to meet you…and it did in a most unexpected way.

The hostess learning of the mishap, went to her well stocked larder and out of the fridge, pulled disks of homemade pie dough that were ready to roll! And, although she didn’t have enough blackberries for two pies, she had some beautiful ripe peaches. How often does this happen? It was like magic!

She pointed me to a small area off to the side where I could work and I got right on to making replacement pies. In what seemed to be no time at all, I had a bowl full of new filling, rolled out her dough (it was pretty nice, too!) and popped the pies into one of her ovens which was already pre-heated. Breathing a sigh of relief, I joined the rest of the crew as the other courses were prepared and served.

When the dessert course rolled around and the replacement pies were served, I was invited to join the guests. What a story the hostess and I had to tell over glasses of champagne and toasts to Pie!

What this taught me is that having some ready to go doughs is a fabulous idea. Now, I try to always have some in my freezer and at least one set of disks in the fridge. This is one of the easy steps that ensures that I can easily make pies whenever the mood strikes and at Pie Cottage that is just about daily!

I set aside a half an hour or so to pre-make about 5 doughs every week. As my recipe is for double crusted pies, that’s 10 discs of dough. I double wrap them in plastic, date them with a marker so I can keep the stock rotated, and pop them into the freezer. Rule of thumb for me is that they be used in one month’s time, but I heard none other than Julia Child say on the PBS Baking with Julia series, that she had used a frozen dough that was one year old with good results!

The night before I bake, I place two disks in the fridge to defrost. Then about 20-30 minutes before I start making the pie, I pull the disks out of the fridge to temper so they adjust to a temperature that is easily rollable. This is usually about the time it takes for me to get all my other ingredients and equipment out and have a cup of tea, too.

Having that set of pre-made doughs can make the difference between to pie or not to pie. Now, excuse me while I head off to my kitchen to pie!

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