Tuesday, November 03, 2009

New tricks

Back last summer I made a pie to take to friends in Minnesota, when I went up to help Al move. It was apple-plum, a combination I had never tried before, but that turned out really nicely, the plums added a rosy tinge, and the flavors were great together. I had a piece for breakfast my last morning there, before going to unload Al's stuff from the rented van, use it to move three of his friends, return it, and head back to Madison.
Somehow, in the course of making that pie, I inadvertently altered my mother's time-honored ratio for pie crust - 2 sticks (1 cup) of butter to 3 cups of flour. I upped the shortening a little - I was trying to eyeball measures, cutting up an unmarked portion of a 1-pound block of unsalted butter & a partially used stick of vegan shortening I had left over from something else. The dough was more difficult to handle than my usual, but it was flakier and delicate and really tasty.

So my new ratio for pie dough is 2 sticks of unsalted butter + 2 TBLS vegan shortening to 3 cups of flour. For sweet pies add 3 TBLS sugar, and for sweet or savory pies add a few pinches of salt, or use salted butter. This recipe is not only radical for changing the ratio, it also uses vegan shortening - Earth Balance is a good brand - instead of Crisco. But, come to think of it, even though her father and brother both worked for Procter & Gamble - my grandfather was a chemist who specialized in hydrogenated fats, so he almost invented Crisco, or at least, his research went into the product - my mother generally just bought the very smallest can of the stuff that she could find, and kept it around for greasing pans. I don't think she thought it was really intended for eating.

I used my new ratio pie dough to make Molly Wizenberg's leek tart for Sunday brunch. Yum. I didn't take any pictures, but Molly did.

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