Strawberry Flavored Disaster

Athena ScalziFor the past decade, I’ve had a tiny strawberry patch by my house. Most years, I fail to do anything with them, except maybe make some jam, but nothing spectacular. This year, I decided I would try to use them for a freshly baked pie. It seemed so aesthetic and simple.

So, I got to picking. I only picked half the patch before my container I brought out was overflowing.

A Tupperware full of small, fresh strawberries.

Deciding that was probably plenty, I went inside and washed them, and set them on paper towels to dry while I looked up a recipe for the pie. Look at all these funky little dudes!

An array of odd looking strawberries, some big, some tiny, some wonky.

I settled on King Arthur’s No-Bake Fresh Strawberry Pie. Mainly because I already had all the ingredients listed, partially because I use King Arthur unbleached all-purpose flour anyway, so might as well use their recipe, right? Also, I don’t have pie weights, as I’ve never made a pie before, and this recipe calls for baking the crust in the microwave rather than the oven, so I figured I could skirt around using pie weights if I used this recipe.

First, it says to put the butter in a microwave safe 9″ pie pan. As soon as I dropped the stick of butter in my pie pan, I realized it mostly certainly was not a microwave safe one. In fact, I realized I don’t have any microwave safe pie pans. So, I figured I could just melt the butter in a bowl and then pour it into the pie pan, then add the dry ingredients on top of it. So I did that! And this is how it looked:

A pie pan with dough covering the bottom, but not going up the sides like it should be.

This was so different from how I imagined a pie crust to be. Most pie crusts are made using cold butter and ice water, and are certainly not as squishy as this was. Regardless, I pressed it into the pan the best I could, and discovered that there wasn’t enough dough to go up the sides, like a pie crust should. No matter how thin I made the bottom layer, it wouldn’t go up the sides. I wasn’t sure how to fix that, but then it didn’t even matter because I suddenly remembered that this was supposed to go BACK INTO THE MICROWAVE TO BAKE.

It was still not, nor was it ever, a microwave safe pie pan. So now I had a dough that needed to be cooked, and I could not follow the recipe’s method to cook it, because I just put it right back into the same pan I specifically did not put the butter in. Obviously, I took to Google to try to convert microwave time to oven time, as well as figure out what temperature I should bake it at.

After much thorough research (about one minute and skimming, because I’m wildly impatient), I threw it in the oven at 375 degrees for fifteen minutes. After that time was up, it wasn’t quite done, so I gave it another ten, which was too much, and it came out too dark in some parts.

A pie pan with a fully baked crust in it, but only covering the bottom, and too dark in some parts.

So, the crust was a total bust in my eyes. I decided to go ahead and try to make the filling anyways, and then maybe retry another pie crust later.

For the filling, it said I needed eight cups of strawberries, which I was fairly sure I had. I cut up all the strawberries, and it ended up only measuring five cups. Then I realized I should have measured the eight cups before cutting them up, because they take up less space when they’re all cut up. So I totally mis-measured. I said fuck it and continued with the filling recipe, which called for sugar, cornstarch, water, and lemon juice. This is what it looked like when I was done with it:

A bowl of a runny strawberry mixture, with tons of chunks of strawberries in it.

Upon tasting it, the texture and taste were both off, and I wasn’t sure why, until I realized I probably used too much cornstarch, since I was using the amount that correlated with the eight cups of strawberries, rather than accounting for how much I actually had (which was an unknown amount, really, I was just estimating). Also, despite all the cornstarch, which I’m pretty sure was supposed to be the thickener, it was still runny.

Feeling defeated and disappointed, I covered the bowl with foil and put the strawberry mixture in the fridge, and left the non-pie-crust-pie-crust out on the stove, and walked away from it.

Along came my father, who always makes me feel better about my less than perfect baking attempts. He said both things I made tasted good, and whipped up this little concoction:

The pie crust I attempted really did taste far more like shortbread than a pie crust, and was also not even close to a pie crust texturally. Honestly, I don’t even like pie crust, and I love shortbread, so I guess I’m not too unhappy with how this turned out. I had him make me a serving, too, and it was pretty dang good.

Do you have any pie crust recipes to recommend? Have you ever had a garden fresh strawberry (they’re way better)? Let me know in the comments, and have a great day!


49 Comments on “Strawberry Flavored Disaster”

  1. I have tried making pie crust from scratch. It’s not easy. One has two choices: keep making it over and over again until you get the hang of it, or two, buy Mrs Smith’s frozen pie dough in a cake pan. I find the latter is best for me. It’s much better than I can make from scratch for now.

    Now one thing I have learned to do is make chocolate pie with shortbread for crust. It’s absolutely delicious, and incredibly difficult to accomplish. Making the shortbread is easy. Forming it around a pie pan bottom and sides is the really difficult part. It’s crumbly and you can’t roll it out like a pie dough. My problem is it winds up very thick in the fold between the bottom of the pie pan and the sides, making it hard to cut when chilled. It’s also hard to get it out of the pie pan in one piece. My solution is I grease the pie pan, then put parchment paper inside the pie pan, forming it as close to the greasy pan as I can make it, then put in the short bread and push it around to form the crust shape. Make sure there’s plenty to put on the sides and as a lip around the top. Then I blind bake it with more parchment paper inside the pie dough with baking beads to keep it from ballooning up. After it’s done and cools, I use the excess parchment paper on the sides to lift up the shortbread crust in one piece, peel off the parchment paper and put it back in the pie pan (I use a Chantal ceramic bakable pie pan). Now I can put in the cholcolate filling, home-made whipped cream on top, and into the fridge to set. It’s still hard to cut at the bottom where the sides meet the bottom, but it comes out of the pan much easier this way. Let me know if you want my shortbread or chocolate filling recipe.

    Hope this wordy explanation helps.

  2. Baking is a very precise, fiddly science which is why I don’t do it often. I also had a mom who was world class at it, did it all by sight, and couldn’t teach me (I didn’t calm down enough to be precise and fiddly about anything until I got a lot older).

    Pie weights are the easiest things to DIY. You can use uncooked rice or beans, granulated sugar, or even just another pie plate. My brother wrapped a brick in foil once and used that! It worked but my mom would’ve had a herd of Holsteins if she’d found out.

    My favorite strawberry pie recipe is the one from Shoneys. It uses strawberry jello to help get that perfectly soft gel that fills the tiny spaces between strawberries without taking away from the star of the pie.

    Don’t forget: you have half a strawberry field left and a Dad who deserves some more pie yumminess. Another day awaits the perfect joy of dough under your hands and the wet strawberry perfume of spring filling the air. Maybe that’s the grey in my hair talking, but treasuring the process while doing takes a bit of the sting out of things that don’t turn out to match the perfect photo shoot end product in your mind.

  3. So the first thing is that you do probably have pie weights, you just don’t realize it. Pie weights are anything that have mass and are safe to bake in the oven. So you can use the fancy ceramic beads, but just as easily you can use dry beans or rice. Just lay down a layer of foil and fill with the beans/rice.

    Secondly, and I cannot stress this enough, you really do need to read through and understand recipes before starting. Don’t just check the ingredient list; go through the steps. They might involve a technique you’re unfamiliar with. They might be time sensitive so you need to have everything prepped ahead of time. Really going through the recipe avoids surprises like “oh crap, my pie pan isn’t microwave safe”.

  4. So – pie crust. I actually really like the version in the Joy of Cooking, which uses a food processor. Super easy. But, honestly, for most things, it’s so much easier to just use store-bought. Anyone who tells you different has too much time on their hands; the results are not noticably different.

    For strawberry pie – the one I like has a baked crust, but a no-bake filling. You’ll want pie weights – but they can be dried beans, you don’t need anything fancy. Bake a single pie crust. Spread the baked pie crust with cream cheese – ideally, while the crust is warm, but not hot – just a nice even layer on the bottom of the crust. I’d say half a brick of cream cheese. If you want to, you can whip the cheese with some sugar – half a cup? – before spreading it. Then, you’ll want two pints of strawberries – 4 cups. 5 cups? It’s fine if you have extra. Take the biggest berries, and just cut the tops off – the fat end, by the leaves. Plunk those bad boys down into the cream cheese with their little points sticking up. Cook the remaining berries with, hmmm, a cup of sugar? Crush them up as you cook them. You can add a little lemon juice too, if you like – a tsp? two? I don’t know – I don’t add lemon juice. Anyway, boil that mush up until it’s basically jam, and then pour it, hot, over the the strawberries and cream cheese in the pie shell, just to the top of the shell. If you’ve got any left over, you can eat it like jam. Chill the pie until it’s solid, and enjoy! If you want to be fancy, you can add whipped cream.

  5. I love how Charlie is captured in that last photo. You can tell she’s just WILLING Scalzi to accidentally drop that plate.

  6. Most baking is a matter of ratios. The ratio for pie dough is 3-2-1. That’s 3 parts flour, 2 parts fat, 1 part water. The fat needs to be ice cold, but it can be anything. I like a mix of 2/3 butter to 1/3 lard, but all butter works just fine.

    To figure out how much of each you need, the basic rule is one inch of pan equals one inch of dough. So, a nine inch pan means 9 oz. total of dough. There are 6 parts to the ratio (3+2+1), so 9 divided by 6 is 1.5 oz. per part. So-

    1.5 x 3 = 4.5 oz. flour
    1.5 x 2 = 3 oz. fat
    1.5 oz. water

    Yes, weigh your stuff. It’s the best way to make sure you are accurate and consistent.

    It all sounds complicated, but once you get used to it, you never have to worry about how much? again. And the crust always turns out right.

  7. There’s a strawberry farm about a half hour south of us (at a lower elevation that has better strawberry weather). We don’t go down that way often but my wife has started working a little way past that a couple times a month. So every time she comes home she stops and picks up a few baskets of strawberries. They’re so much better than store-bought. They’re deep red all the way through instead of a red surface with white interior. It’s not surprising because store-bought have to survive packaging and transport and have to be picked early enough that they aren’t rotten by the time they make it onto the shelf. These are straight from the field to the shack by the road to our kitchen.

  8. Back when I was heavily into baking, I made two identical pies at the same time…one with homemade crust, and one with store bought crust.


    I never looked back. I have never made a scratch homemade pie crust again.

  9. I hate making pie crusts. Trader Joe’s, for the win (or any store bought, I imagine). For something like a no-bake pie, I’d make a shortbread crust, or one with graham crackers or crushed cookies and butter.

  10. ‘strawberry flavored disaster’ could be your official name for this dessert. if pop’s reaction is any indication, you’ll be making it again!

  11. As an experienced baker, my favorite pie-crust recipe is to buy the prerolled crusts at the grocery and store them in the deli drawer. (Seriously). It’s just not worth the angst.

  12. The secret to a pie crust is to not let the butter melt into the flour.

    Get a larger bowl and put some ice cubes in it. Put the flour bowl in this to work the butter in. Make sure the water is ice cold too.

    As soon as it starts to come together, wrap it plastic wrap and refrigerate for a half hour.

    Knead the dough and roll it out. Put it in a pie tin and refrigerate for an hour. Then bake.

    This works a little more than half the time, so it is easier to buy one.

  13. Regarding pie weights: I don’t own any, and I see no need to go out and buy them. To pre-bake a pie crust, roll it out, put it in the pan, line it with foil, then dump in uncooked rice or beans. You can then pre-bake the crust as you would otherwise do.

    If you use rice, the rice can be easily cooked up with little harm done (rice which has been used in this manner tends to be a little mushy, so not the best for all purposes, but still fine in many contexts, e.g. rice pudding or Spanish rice). The heat pretty much ruins the texture of the beans, though they can be boiled as usual, then refried without much harm done.

  14. Shortbread makes a perfectly delightful pie crust.

    Also, making a classic pie crust is not particularly difficult if you use a food processor. You need ice water, you need very cold butter, and it’s best to measure carefully. I tend to be a little on the sloppy side and my baked goods still come out fine.

    I have personally not found baking as finicky as some of the responses here say but it’s also true that I don’t bake fancy French pastries, which I’m sure take more precision than pie crusts.

    Whatever. Your strawberry-shortbread dessert sounds great.

  15. Never have used pie weights; didn’t know they were a thing. What are they supposed to do?

    Pie crust can be relatively simple–my mother’s recipe used vinegar and didn’t require being cold. Doesn’t work well for gluten-free flours, though.

    For strawberry pie, there’s a variant crust with crushed graham crackers and melted butter that requires a short baking period. Filling is about half a packet of strawberry Jello mixed with sliced berries. Yum.

  16. I don’t know why it is, but I’ve never had the trouble other people have with pie crusts. My recipe-slash-technique is also super simple; maybe you could try it.
    For a single crust (double amounts for bottom-and-top crusts):
    – 1 stick (8 oz) butter, room temperature
    – 2 cups all-purpose flour
    – 1/4 tsp salt (I usually use kosher salt, but probably shouldn’t)
    – Ice water–yes, with actual ice cubes floating in it

    Sift flour and salt into a largish bowl. Cut up butter into dry ingredients with two table knives. Cut/mix with knives until you have pea-size or smaller chunks of butter totally covered in flour.
    Now you want to add the very cold water (not the ice cubes, obvs). This is important–you really only want to add enough to get the dough to hold together. 2-3 tablespoons will generally do it. Add a little at a time and mix until it almost-but-not-quite holds together. If you think you added enough water, you probably added too much, so err on the crumbly side. (Somewhere in this step I usually abandon the tools and mix it with my hands until satisfied.)
    Turn out onto waxed paper, wrap and refrigerate for an hour or more, even overnight is good. (I’ve sometimes left dough in the fridge for a week when things got busy.)
    Roll out on heavily floured surface with a floured rolling pin. (If you have one of those marble jobs, pop it in the fridge to chill beforehand too.)

  17. My mom makes a delicious apple pie with a buttery flaky homemade crust (it’s an old family recipe and I’m not sure who it originally came from). It’s so good I literally have been spoiled for other pies and have pretty much given up on eating pie that isn’t my mom’s because generally I hate their crusts.

    I don’t know if the same crust would work well for strawberry pie, but the recipe isn’t that difficult, I just rarely make it myself because I’m too lazy to peel all the apples. The hardest part is just rolling out the dough- she usually rolls it out in-between layers of floured wax paper because it’s a rather sticky dough and can be tricky to lay out properly.

    If you want to try the recipe, I have it on my recipes page here:

    Personally I have never heard of pie weights before and having looked them up I guess I understand why I’ve not used them, since the apple pie recipe bakes all together and doesn’t bake the crust separately.

    I’ve been too lazy to actually garden anything as an adult, but I do remember having a strawberry garden when I was a little kid and it was really cool having fresh strawberries direct from the backyard. Sadly I can’t really eat fresh fruit these days much as if I try to eat more than a small amount on an empty stomach my stomach gets angry at me.

  18. my pastry chef friend always said “cooking is an art, baking is a science”. Specifically, it’s a chemistry lab class where you enjoy the successes after the failures.

    bypassing the crust discussion to go to cornstarch. Cornstarch is a thickener – but that only happens during the cooking/heating processes. The recipe you posted said to mash 1/4 of the berries, add in the sugar, cornstarch and water and then heat. It is during that process when the mixture will start to gel to become the thicker pie filling you contemplate.

    If you like your outcome without cooking, leave out the cornstarch – it does little to nothing for the recipe if you don’t ever heat it up.

  19. I am laughing here remembering my first attempt at cheesecake. I had no graham crackers so I substituted crushed rainbow wafer ice cream cones. Had no cream cheese (!) so I substituted some of my mom’s homemade farm cheese (think cross between ricotta and cottage cheese). I cannot remember what other insane eldritch and disturbing substitutions and eliminations happened but the result was a murky, soggy mess that even the dog ran and hid from. Learning to cook is quite an adventure!

  20. Filling not thickening: I think this must be down to it not being cooked. I think what you call cornstarch in the USA we call cornflour in the UK and it does not get thick until it’s heated up. It’s the thickening you use to make gravy or many other sauces from scratch, and doesn’t do any thickening until it’s heated to boiling.

  21. Responding to Joyce Reynolds-Ward:

    At the risk of explaining details which you likely already know, but in an effort to make sure that all of the required context is there: a traditional pie crust is flakey. The flakeyness comes from layers of butter which are trapped by a mixture of flour and water. When making a pie, it is often desirable to “blind bake” or “pre-bake” the crust—this helps maintain the texture of the crust, particularly when the filling is particularly wet.

    The problem with blind baking is that the little pockets of butter contain both fat and water. When the water heats, it boils, which can lead to the crust puffing up. This is, generally speaking, undesirable. A typical solution to this problem is to weight the crust down with weights during the blink bake. This is traditionally done with pie weights, which are small ceramic spheres.

    In short, pie weights are used to keep a crust from puffing up during the blind bake (assuming that one is blind baking the crust at all).

  22. King Arthur flour is the only flour to use because it is an employee-owned company.

    BTW, you don’t nee pie weights. There are a variety of credible substitutes but the best idea is to line your crust with foil and pour in a bunch of sugar. Bonus: you get caramelized sugar out of the deal.

  23. Many cooking/baking disasters now is the surest, and possibly ONLY, way towards cooking/baking miracles in the future.

    And, well, as far as disasters go, one that provided both you and your dad with a tasty snack isn’t particularily disastrous…

  24. For fresh amazing strawberries such as those, try Cook’s Illustrated’s Strawberry Pie. It’s basically strawberries, lightly held together with a quick strawberry jam that’s thickened with both cornstarch and gelatin, put on a single baked pie crust. It will showcase those strawberries like you wouldn’t believe.

    Don’t feel badly about “messing something up.” Trying new things means getting them wrong sometimes and as your father showed, sometimes what you’ve done is succeed at something else.

  25. Mine are store-bought and not foraged, but I just came into possession of a bunch of strawberries today, as I plan to make strawberry shortcake for guests. I have never made strawberry shortcake. The filling recipes I see online all have the SAME ingredients as yours, but I didn’t look at amounts, as I don’t like to measure anything. (If you’re thinking that I do not bake, well, then you’re right.) Your tale of woe has me worried about the filling, but I guess if I heat it, then it will thicken?

    Oh, and yes, I HAVE had freshly foraged Ohio strawberries, and they are wonderful

  26. informal motto of USAF, “everything is airdroppable, once”

    informal motto of House Scalzi, “everything is burrito-able, once”

    dude just frankensteined an unholy dessert burrito out of accidental odds ‘n ends

    please e-mail me a dozen

  27. “Strawberry Flavored Disaster” is going to be my tell-all autobiography of a life lost in too many desserts

  28. Sometimes you can use dried beans as pie weights. I almost always use a glass pie plate but in this case I would have probably opted for a tart with a spring form pan. I’d only build the crust up about a half inch of at all. I’d make a thick custard or pudding or even lemon curd and cover the crust and then put strawberries that had the bottoms sliced off of them or, for very fancy, were sliced and then layered around. You could also do individual tartlettes. Serve with creme faiche or whipped cream.

    Trust me, most of the time I make cobbler because it easy and sloppy.

  29. When my husband & I married and combined our households we ended up with 5 or 6 glass pie plates, ranging in size from 8″ to 10″ which would be microwave safe. I’m intrigued by the recipe, since I’m a big shortbead fan, but I don’t have a good source of strawberries unless I could adapt it for frozen strawberries.

    I’ve never tried strawberry pie. I usually make strawberry shortcakes, which are almost biscuit-like cakes if I make them like my mother & grandmother did. Much better in my opinion than the store-bought ones that taste like Twinkies.

  30. It’s hard to mess up something you make with yard-fresh strawberries… As you discovered.

    Pie crusts aren’t hard, I also follow the Way to Cook directions when I hand roll a crust. But really, store-bought crusts are OK too.

  31. Any food that’s edible and tastes good is not a failure. (I almost wrote “anything” but then I thought about library paste and reconsidered.)

    I made lousy pie crusts until one day I didn’t. I think it was something my eyes and hands figured out, bypassing my brain completely.

  32. I highly recommend my grandmother’s super simple ‘recipe’ for no-bake pie crusts, which she always used for cheesecakes:

    1) Crush a packet of sweet, plain biscuits (Translation to American: crackers). She used Nice (that’s a brand name, not a description) biscuits, but in the USA you’d use Graham Crackers, using a bag & a rolling pin, or bash up the packet a bit & put the pieces in a blender & pulse until they’re the texture of bread crumbs.

    Optional, but nice: You can add a bit of ground nutmeg & cinnamon if you want to get fancy.

    2) Nuke some butter.

    3) Slowly mix melted butter into the biscuit crumbs until it’s just wet enough that you can mould it like clay with your hands.

    4) Mould it into your pie pan to your preferred thickness, but no less than 5mm / 1/4″. I use a drinking glass to smooth & even out the dough inside the pan.
    Tip: The crust is easier to remove if you line the pan on the bottom & sides with a circle & a strip of parchment paper. My grandmother was a very thrifty woman who lived through both world wars & the Depression, so she used the butter wrapper to line the pan, with the dry side facing the pan.

    5) Put in fridge until stiff; around 30 minutes.
    Now it’s ready to fill!
    Note: Do not remove crust from pan until the filling is completely set.

  33. Logophage’s recipe should give you a buttery flaky crust that of a kind that I’d never confuse with a premade crust.

    The secret is to mix as little as possible. The dough will be quite fragile, but it’s okay to patch it in the pan if it rips while you’re placing it. (Two crust pies have a higher potential for disaster.)

    This is all a bit of a fuss. I love a proper flaky homemade crust and am willing to work at it, but it’s not something that everyone cares about. It’s fine to buy premade crusts while you get a general sense of how a pie goes together. A good homemade crust is a refinement.

  34. I am sorry you had a frustrating time with your strawberry pie, Athena – even when a family member likes it, it’s annoying not to have it come out the way you had planned.

    For a non-baked fruit pie like strawberry, I would probably opt for a graham-cracker crust or a vanilla-wafer crust rather than a blind-baked traditional piecrust. Nop gave a great description of how to make one, or you can do what I would do and buy a ready-made graham cracker crust at the store.

    Especially with juicy, perfectly ripe homegrown strawberries, I don’t think I’d cook them at all. I’d wash them and remove the stem and leaves, then just dump them into the graham-cracker crust, shake gently to get them settled into each other, and pour some kind of a syrupy or creamy filling that would set up fairly firm. It could be jam-like, or you could make a custard cooked on the stove top to pour over the berries.

    For an actual traditional piecrust, I still rely on the old recipe that my late mother-in-law gave me about 45 years ago. Frances did not enjoy cooking, so she preferred recipes that were easy and forgiving. True chefs would scoff at her piecrust recipe, but I have made hundreds of pies with it and have never had a complaint about how it tastes. I also find it easier to handle than any other piecrust I’ve ever tried to make.

    Frances’s recipe for a two-crust (i.e. top and bottom) 9″ pie:

    1 1/2 cups AP flour
    3/4 tsp baking powder
    1/2 tsp salt
    1/2 cup Crisco
    1/2 cup ice cold water

    Place the dry ingredients in a mixing bowl and whisk to combine. Cut in the shortening until the clumps are a little smaller than pea-size. Use a fork to gradually stir in the cold water until the dough is of rolling consistency. You want it to be elastic and slightly sticky but not gloppy. Depending on the relative humidity, the freshness of the flour and other variables, the actual amount of water you wind up using can vary from the recipe; pay more attention to the texture of the dough than to rigidly following the ingredient list.

    If making more than one crust, divide the dough into roughly equal-sized chunks, and cover the pieces you aren’t rolling with either a damp towel or a piece of plastic wrap while you roll the first crust.

    Oh, also a PS – my spouse saw your post earlier this week about focaccia and got inspired. Guess what he made for tonight’s supper? Yummy stuff – thank you for the idea!

  35. Did you cook the strawberry mixture as the recipe said? (You didn’t mention it) Cooking the cornstarch mixture will make the “strawberry sauce” turn clear and get thicker.

    Also, don’t use volume measurements. Use the weights the KA gives you. That way you can adjust your recipe really easily- and it doesn’t matter whether you’ve chopped up the strawberries or not! (Go ahead and use volume for things that need less than a tablespoon of something. Anything more? Metric weight is just EASIER!)

  36. I’m going to agree with those who say to pick up a ready made crust. You can get one already shaped like the pan, or one in a roll that you have to place in pan.

    Also, I’m very impressed with Nop’s grandmother who used the butter wrapper as parchment paper. That is something my grandmother absolutely would have done (and probably did, but I just didn’t notice).

    Best of luck with your next attempt.

  37. Obviously you need a microwave-safe pie tin or something that can double as it.

    Me? I buy premade pie crusts at the supermarket’s refrigerator section and whip up what goes inside….

  38. My daughter is the pie baker. She starts with frozen butter, shaves it with a cheese grater and then makes her dough. Lots of other great advice above. Good luck.

  39. what’s missing from your kitchen toolkit is a “Amulet of Concentrated Awesome™” which you could either seek out upon a yearlong quest across moonlit moors of Elven Lands upon your dad’s trusty winged unicorn hell-kitten (he’ll grumble but loan it to you)… or logon Amazon’s ‘hidden pages’ where you can barter for it with the feathers of a phoenix…

    …either approach offers you opportunity to post snarky commentary on wildly inappropriate careers

  40. I’m sorry, I’ve always found the store-bought pie crusts to be terrible, strongly reminiscent of cardboard. I also grew up in a home where both grandmothers cooked from scratch, as did my mother. Baking is a skill, one that takes practice.

    My favorite pie crust recipe is:
    2 cups unsifted organic flour
    3/4 cup organic coconut oil (this should actually be solid and cold)
    1/4 teaspoon salt
    approx. 2 tablespoons cold, filtered water
    Makes a 9″ double crust pie.

    I use a pastry cutter, using a food processor is fine too. Mix flour, salt and coconut oil until it reaches the fine crumb stage. Carefully add the filtered water just enough until the dough sticks together. Knead briefly, just enough to make the dough elastic. Too much kneading makes the dough–and the resulting pie crust–tough and hard.

    The coconut oil will make the dough very tender. If it seems like it’s too tender to roll out, refrigerate it for 10-15 mins. Otherwise, roll out the piecrust immediately & fill with the pie filling, then put the top crust on. Refrigerate immediately for 15-30 mins. If you do not refrigerate the pie crust before baking, it will shrink excessively.
    Bake at 400° in a preheated oven. The preheating is important too.

    If you want to make a single crust pie
    1.5 cups unsifted organic flour
    1/2 cup coconut oil
    1/4 teaspoon salt
    approx. 1 tablespoon cold, filtered water
    Roll out pie crust immediately & refrigerate for 30 mins.
    Bake at 400°
    If you closely prick the pie crust all over with a fork, you won’t need pie weights. I usually just use a springform pan bottom or an ovenproof flat pot lid.

    The coconut oil should be refrigerator cold. If you live in an area that has hard water, filtered water is a MUST. The minerals in hard water will make flat hard bread and pastry crusts.

    Coconut oil heats up faster than butter or shortening. If the pie dough seems excessively greasy, put it in the refrigerator for 15 minutes to make it easier to roll out.

    Using coconut oil is a little trickier than using butter or shortening but it makes a lighter, flakier, crispier pie crust.

    Logophage’s instructions for mixing the crust, especially how much water, are spot on. Too much water develops the gluten in the flour too much, which is what makes the pie crust hard and cardboard-like.

  41. I’m going to go against the common “piecrust is hard/complicated/precise” wisdom. I say piecrust is easy.

    I use a recipe that I got from Euell Gibbons’s book “Stalking the Wild Asparagus.” Here it is (for top and bottom crusts): take 2 cups of flour, half a cup of vegetable oil, and a quarter cup of milk. Mix.

    Divide into two balls. Roll out between sheets of waxed paper. Transfer to pie pan and peel off waxed paper. (The waxed paper keeps the crust from tearing.)

    If you want to make a pie look fancy, but without working hard at it, here’s an easy way to make a lattice crust using the above recipe:

    Yes, I know this violates all the ice water/butter rules… but I’ve been using this recipe for fifty years and have gotten nothing but compliments.

  42. There are sooooooo many different kinds of pie crust (it’s one of the reasons I love the Great British Baking Show–I learn about new pie crusts that the Brits take for granted). Not all of them are the classic “flaky pie crust” texture (which comes from chunks or flakes or clots of butter melting and releasing minute amounts of steam, and… ). A shortbread-like crust is entirely permissible.

    Measuring really is important. One of the best things I ever did was get myself a digital kitchen scale (one that measures in grams an ounces and, very probably, some units of measurement only used on Venus). When in doubt, err on the side of too much fruit.

    I got through multiple decades making pies without pie weights–beans, rice, almost anything will do. If you’re using the microwave, don’t use foil–a plain sheet of copy paper, cut to size, will do it.

    But the most basic rule of baking is in my humble opinion: if it tastes yummy, it was a success. If you hanker after making pie crust, keep at it–it’s a knacky thing, but once you get it, it’s not as hard as its reputation suggests.

    And if you wind up with strawberry shortcake, what, I ask, is wrong with that?

    And can I saw how jealous I am that you have a strawberry patch?

  43. I took a look at that recipe. Even with more experience, that crust is not going to come out flakey. It looks like it is meant to be more or less shortbread – like no matter what you did. I will have to yeild to your Dad’s ruling on the taste, but I think you did pretty good for a beginner. If your strawberry patch is at all like the one I had years ago, you will have plenty of berries to try again. Or just try for strawberry shortcake. For years, my mom made those with spongecake from the grocery store. But the best ever was when she starting using scones instead.

  44. Oh my god, you cook like I do, Athena! (And I too have kindly folk around who make something wonderful of it!)

  45. Having read through the comments I see lots of them recommending beans as pie weights. Can second. They work great. But, but do not do like me and feel obliged to use the beans as beans. They get even drier and harder from being baked. If you then go to make baked beans out of them, just for instance, and cook them the usual amount of hours, and taste them, and find out they have the consistency of very old almonds without the crunch, and put them back for another two hours in the oven, and taste them, and find out they’re now like ancient almonds in the center, and put them back, and—.

    Anyway, the point I’m trying to make is they NEVER seem to get done. Put them in a jar labeled “These are pie weights. Not beans. You have been warned.”