Part One: An email from Jess to Matt
Mr. M. Drabenstott —
It has come to my attention that you are secluded in a lonely yet beautiful cabin in the Quebecois wilderness and are in need of immediate advice regarding the making of a pie, which, it is presumed, you and only you will be consuming. In addition, your access to provisions is ample but limited; any single recipe I would share might not be able to be followed with precision. I shall hereto set out to provide some guidelines and advice in straightforward and simple language in order to assist you in eating* your quarantine pie as soon as possible, leaving you with a copious amount of time for academic pursuits, Fortnite, and private poetry readings and recitations. *(Rather, beginning to eat, as this pie will last several days, excepting an an act of terrible gluttony.) Please do not hesitate to seek clarification on any of the details below through the medium of text message if assistance is required during the creative process. I am unsure what has possessed me to write this paragraph in such a formal tone. However, if it has provided one extra ounce of amusement to your solitary day, I harbor absolutely no regrets.
Your loving friend,
Mrs. J. Gelineau
- Pastry: Totally just use your pre-made pastries if you have them. If you’d prefer to make your own, this is a very simple recipe that can be made, then immediately rolled and put into a pan. (Most other pastries, which use butter or shortening, require refrigeration). I prefer to roll pastry between two sheets of wax paper, if you have it- it makes it easy to peel off one side once you’re done and lift and invert the whole thing over the pie pan. Otherwise, lightly flour your surface and rolling pin.
Louise Piper’s Oil Pastry: Combine 2 cups all-purpose flour and 1 tsp. salt in a large bowl. Measure 1/2 cup vegetable oil and 1/4 cold milk (not skim, but whole or 2% is fine) in the same glass measuring cup (if you have one) without mixing the two, then dump it all at once into the flour mixture. Mix briskly, the dough will pull together into a ball. Divide the dough in half, this makes just enough for a double crust pie. You can go straight to rolling out the bottom crust for your pie. If you don’t have a rolling pin, an empty wine or large beer bottle works well. 😉
- Filling: I heard you say you have cherries, strawberries, peaches, and one other fruit which is escaping me (blueberries?). I assume you have a standard size pie dish (9 inch). Basically you want to do about 5 cups of fruit unless you’re using strawberries. Those bubble up so much that you probably would want to stick to 4 cups of fruit total or you might have a huge mess in the oven. So add your fruit to a bowl. Peach/cherry is one of my current favorite combos but any combos will be yummy. 🙂 If you have a bigger dish, you can go up to 6 cups of fruit. Add between 1/3 and 1/2 cup of sugar depending on the size of the pie, and 1-2 tsps of lemon juice (if you have it? Or lime, or orange…! Something citrus!) If you have a lemon, a little zest in the filling is nice too. Also can’t go wrong with 1/2 of cinnamon and a sprinkle of nutmeg if you happen to have those things. A little vanilla is nice in peach pies. Combine all of this and let it sit for 10 minutes until you can see visible juices in the bottom of the bowl. Then add to the bowl 2 tablespoons and another spoonful of sugar (premix those in a separate little bowl). Mix until the cornstarch mixture is well incorporated into the fruit. Pour filling into pie crust lined baking dish. Add several small pats of butter scattered around the top of the pie. (Oh- and if you don’t have cornstarch, you could use flour in its place. Maybe 3 TBSP instead of 2…)
- Top crust: Get a little bowl of water for your fingers ready. Roll out the top crust. Dip your fingers in water and run a little bit around the edge of the bottom crust, then invert the top crust over the whole pie. Trim the excess pastry to be flush with the edges of the pie pan, then press all around the edges with a fork to bind together, or sculpt together in a ridge. If you have extra pastry, make the shape of a whale and pop that on top. Prick the top crust with a fork several times, including at least once or twice near the edge of the pie. That’s where you will look for bubbling to check doneness – thick juicy bubbles are what you want. If you want, you can sprinkle or brush the top of the pie evenly with milk and a little bit of white sugar.
- Baking: Bake at 400 F for 30 minutes, then rotate the pie 180 degrees so that the part that was facing the back of the oven is now facing front, turn down the temperature to 375 and bake for about 25 more minutes- but start checking earlier for those bubbles, and a golden top crust. Every oven is different!
It would be totally awesome if you could do a guest post with some pictures of your pie escapade on The Peace of Pie. Let me know if you’re keen.
Part Two: A Series of iMessages from Matt to Jess
Matt’s quaran-pie journey begins.
I couldn’t find any pie pans lying around the cabin, so I settled on a casserole dish.
(Which I would later discover has the capacity of 4 pie dishes….)
Per your reco, I mixed frozen peaches and cherries into a bowl. I added few splashes of maple syrup, a pinch or two of cinnamon, some lémon zëst, and of course, a squirt of citrus. (Grapefruit sounded fancy at the time).
As I poured the milk into the oil for the crust, I couldn’t help but think fondly of the lava lamp that I had throughout middle school.
In the absence of a rolling pin and a wine bottle, I used a bottle of Woodford Reserve (would definitely recommend!) to iron out my Pangaea-esque shaped crust.
After adding a few strawberries to the top for a little ‘je ne sais quois’, I scurried to the forest to find some fallen maple leaves, which I used as stencils to create an aptly carved ‘Fall Canadian Foliage’ topper.
Pretty much nailed it.
Shamelessly, I’m already half way finished.
A Bit of Backstory:
Peace of Pie readers may remember my friend and pie hype man Matt from previous posts such as this one. An American currently living in Canada, Matt spent the summer months back in the U.S. of A and thus was required to quarantine for two weeks upon his October re-entry. A classy fellow, Matt chose to make the most of this time by renting a beautiful wilderness cabin in which to work, hold solo poetry readings, and, of course, bake the delightful pie you’ve just read about. Matt is now healthfully back in his primary Canadian residence, and I feel like I’ve just written an author bio for a book jacket. Cheers!