Last week was National Pie Week. I’m not sure who decides on these sorts of things but I feel that we should honor their choice and properly celebrate said weeks. The only problem with Pie Week is that it falls in July, which those in the Mid-West know, is a hot sticky mess and my steadfast rule has always been no pie in the summer. Which is sad given the bounty of fresh fruit, but it’s not worth the tears and frustration that come from fighting a crust in sauna of a kitchen. But Thursday night, with the mercury pushing 85 degrees in the kitchen I decided to chance it.
I am crazy, I will freely admit it, but this time I had a plan. We had recently been to visit Matt’s grandparents and they have a second kitchen in their basement. I was marveling at how convenient it would be in the summer when it dawned on me that I have a basement. And while not equipped with a fridge, sink and full size stove it does have many flat surfaces on which I could set a cutting board and roll out a crust. So off I went toting my cutting board, rolling pin, bench scraper and dish of flour down to the cool depths below. I set up shop on top of the dryer and got to rolling. A quick pass in the freezer when I came back up yielded a pretty manageable crust.
For the filling I opted to make the blueberry pie I’d made last year to rave reviews. It derives from the Cooks Illustrated, as it seems so many of my dessert recipes do, and it doesn’t fail to deliver. There is a delicate balance that needs to be achieved with fruit pies. You don’t want them to be runny and dissolve into a soupy mess but you DO NOT want the jello-esque consistency that results from too much thickener. Perfection is achieved by taking a few extra steps. First you grind up instant tapioca, which is an excellent reason to clean out the coffee grinder that might not have been cleaned since that last time you made said pie… Then you peel a granny smith apple, shred it with the large holes on your box grater and wring out all the moisture with a tea towel. You will be amazed at all the liquid that comes out and you’re left with fairly dry apple shards. The natural pectin in the apple flesh when paired with the scant amount of tapioca yield a pie that does not need a serrated knife to cut but will keep it’s shape in the pan!
The pie, which I was able to cut into 16 pieces, made the rounds at work, did a quick pit stop at the fabric store and then found it’s way home to Matt. I’m not convinced that pie making needs to happen in the heat of summer, but I am willing to call this attempt a success.