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FAQ: A Few Pie Questions Answered

My friend Janine in Seattle emailed me that she wanted to use my pie dough recipe to make a blueberry pie — tis that berry season in the Pacific Northwest and she had picked her own. I’m so jealous. But she didn’t have Crisco and she was “too lazy to go to the store so my husband took over,” as she put it, and he made a blueberry tart instead. I hope her hubby doesn’t read this, but she sounded a little disappointed in the tart.

Her email prompted me to get off my own lazy butt and respond to some of the questions I’ve been getting about my step-by-step pie making guide.

1. First, it is okay to use all butter. When I lived in Germany I couldn’t get Crisco and my all-butter crusts turned out just fine. There’s an age-old argument about what ingredients make the perfect crust. I’m not even going to touch that. The point is to make your own pie. Period.

2. Yes, I roll my dough right on that tablecloth. No, there is no Saran wrap covering it. It is a cheapo, vinyl, flannel-backed picnic tablecloth from the grocery store. It stays put on the table and it makes clean-up a cinch. Sometimes I take the whole messy thing right off the table (once the pie is in the oven) and shake off the floury crud outside, after which I give it a good disinfecting wipe-down.

3. No, you don’t have to use a whole cup of sugar. If you like a tart apple pie, use less. If you have a sweet-tooth, go ahead and dump in the whole cup. I usually make BIG pies, like 10 inches diameter and several inches deep, and even then I don’t use a full cup of sugar. So let’s go ahead and adjust that to 3/4 cup sugar for future recipes.

4. You can also use the leftover dough for “cookies.” The old grandmother way was to roll out the excess dough, sprinkle it with sugar and cinnamon, and bake the misshapen scraps on a cookie sheet. It will take about 10 to 20 minutes for them to get crisp and makes a nice little snack while you’re waiting–and waiting–for the Main Attraction to finish baking.