Learning to Make Dough
Over about a two and a half year period a few years back, I made oodles of traditional pie crusts using flours from local farmers markets as well as the bags that I bought off-the-shelf at the grocery. I tried different fats and brands of butter, adjusting the combination and amounts, finally tweaking the ratio of Flour:Fat:Water more times than I can possibly remember.
Each dough, crust and pie was tasted by me and the wonderful folks who came by the house including postmen, delivery men, husband, food writers, friends and neighbors. The pies were taken to Slow Food potlucks, picnics with friends and to restaurants where willing chefs and staff tasted. Everyone was generous with their feedback.
When the general consensus among the tasters seemed to be “THIS is the one!”, it seemed a good recipe to stick with.
For an additional 6 months, I kept right on eating those pies. Then I found out I was on the brink of Celiac and my doc said that I could go one way or the other with the condition. It was a no-brainer to me. No more gluten.
I continue to make the same crust and folks wonder how I can do it without tasting along the way. Well, after making a heck of a lot of doughs, crusts and pies it becomes a craft, one that is honed with time and practice.
When I taught piano, I would say to my students, “We learn technique so we can forget about it and make music.”
It’s the same thing with pie.
I know exactly what that crust tastes and feels like.
I know when I touch, smell, see and listen (Yes, I do listen to dough!) how it is going to turn out.
I have learned to put the recipe aside and let my hands and heart take over.
I have learned technique so I can forget about it and just make pie.
Many have asked if I will be developing a Gluten Free crust. My answer of course is YES because I too want to eat pie again. To get there, I am having to learn an entirely new craft.
Gluten Free baking is completely different.
Everything I know to be true about traditional baking, I am having to throw out the window and begin again with new flours which have a different feel, look and smell.
I have a ways to go before I get to the place where I know that my GF crust is “done”.
I want the finished pie to be one where pie-eaters can honestly say “That’s a good pie” and instead of “That’s a good gluten-free pie”.
To put a musicians bent on this, learning to make a GF pie after mastering traditional dough, is like learning to play bassoon after mastering piano. Yes we will play music but it’s a whole new instrument with different technique to learn, explore and master. And, it’s all in the journey.
I’ve learned that perfect teachers come just when you need them and many times in the most unexpected of places and that a resonance and harmony are created in the teaching and learning.
I’m on the way to GF Pie. Some of my teachers now, are Jeanne Sauvage, who blogs as Four Chickens and Shauna Ahern, who blogs as Gluten Free Girl. Both are some of the best bakers and cooks I know and I am so fortunate to call them friends!
Here’s to the learning and the process!