There’s just something about pie. And so for Father’s Day when I couldn’t think of anything unique to gift my “I have everything I need please don’t get me anything” Dad, it was good ol’ Mom who reminded me how much my super Dad loves a Shoo-Fly pie.
A good crust is the beginning of every respectable pie, savory or sweet, and no bite is complete without a generous fork-full of flaky goodness. I believe it’s in the making of this crust – a centuries -old practice of mixing ground wheat and fat, perhaps an egg, a pinch of salt and some water and the serving of it to loved ones around family tables, and then the sweet partaking together, that connections are made. These few simple ingredients mixed by strong, loving hands in stoneware or wood or glass or aluminum, rolled flat into a round-ish shape and pressed purposefully into a plate, edge folded and fluted or forked, is an act so simple yet so timeless in which I feel connects us to generations past and creates memories for generations future as we perform this beautiful practice. In our throw away society of rush and convenience this has been lost. Crusts can be bought already made, in perfect circles ready to bake. This is a less than mediocre replacement. Make the pie crust. Make the memories. Make the connection. Don’t be afraid of failure or imperfect edges. It’s in the effort that counts for so much.
I’ve tried many pie crust recipes. Butter, oil, lard, pressed, rolled, kneaded, and have come up with what I believe to be the best. It’s exquisitely flaky and so delectable. It’s easy to roll out even though still, after probably hundreds of pies, I cannot roll a perfect circle. Sometimes it even falls apart a little when I transfer it to the plate. That’s ok. Perfect is overrated. Make the crust.
My recipe for an almost perfect double crust:
3 cups flour
1 and 1/2 cups lard (may use shortening if lard isn’t something you happen to have, although it’s now easy to find in most grocery stores. And I really feel it does make a difference)
Pinch of salt
1 egg, beaten with a fork
1 Tbsp vinegar (white or apple cider works)
4 Tbsp cold water
Combine the flour and salt in a mixing bowl. Can I just say how much I love my Anchor canisters? They hold so much more than traditional kitchen canisters. Cut in the lard with two butter knives (important!) using a scissor type action (hold a knife in each hand and make scissor – like motions through the flour) until the mixture is reduced to pea sized crumbles.
In a separate, smaller bowl, mix the egg, vinegar and water with a fork. Slowly pour this mixture into the flour/lard. Mix again with the knives until incorporated.
Roll out on a floured surface into a circle of approx 12-14 inches. Wrap a portion of dough around the rolling pin for easier transfer to the pie plate. Once in the plate good edges under and flute. Prior to folding, you may trim any edges that are super long.
Follow directions for the specific pie you’re making whether you need to pre-bake the crust or not. Pictured is the aforementioned Shoo-Fly. I used this recipe: http://allrecipes.com/recipe/22285/shoofly-pie-v/?internalSource=hub%20recipe&referringContentType=search%20results&clickId=cardslot%202 I would describe it as a coffee cake- but a pie. It’s a Pennsylvania Dutch recipe and is traditionally served at breakfast, although any time’s a good time for Shoo Fly pie.
May your Father’s Day be blessed, pie or not.