The Wednesday before Thanksgiving found me printing my final choices for pie and pie crust recipes, getting out the food processor and getting down to business.
I put my sticks of butter and butter-flavored Crisco in the freezer to harden up and measured out my dry ingredients. Julia Child must have had a larger food processor than me, for I was not able to put the entire 5 1/4 cups of flour in there and still cut in all the butter and shortening. Unfortunately, I didn’t realize this until I’d already cut the sticks into chunks and begun dropping them into the bowl. Out everything came, and I did my best to divide the chunks equally in half and add them to the food processor with the correct portion of flour and salt.
It could have been that or perhaps my adding not quite enough ice water to the dough, or even the fact that the shortening was definitely NOT chilled enough…Whatever the cause, my crusts ended up very crumbly. The only thing I can honestly say I didn’t do was overwork the crust; at least I did that right! 😉 The end result was, they cracked when I rolled them, even when I did so between pieces of flour-dusted parchment paper. When I blind baked them, filled with parchment paper and dried beans, they became quite brittle.
One of my blind-baked* crusts stuck to my parchment paper when I tried to remove it, so it was history. NOTE TO SELF: Only use the same piece of parchment paper 2 times for blind baking before getting a fresh sheet.
Seeing that my crusts were not destined to be the light, flaky masterpieces I’d envisioned, I resorted to Plan B. Indeed, I had two boxes of Pillsbury Refrigerated Pie Crusts awaiting me in the fridge, just to hedge my bet.
One pie, my pumpkin pie, had my homemade crust. It got a little bit too done and stuck to the glass pie pan, but it did taste good. The Pillsbury crusts used in the two sweet potato pies were definitely superior (by the way, I inadvertently only put in half the specified amount of cream cheese, but they were still really good).
I bunched up the Pillsbury scraps with my remaining homemade dough, add a little cinnamon and sugar, and roll it out to make leaves for the tops of my pies. Thanks to the Internet, I found a nice pattern for a maple leaf and used it as a template. I just left the leaves in place on the parchment paper, peeling away the areas around them. When they were done baking, I slid them off the parchment paper with a spatula and placed them on the finished pies.
Long story short, the pies were a success! They really were pretty, and everything tasted good. The whole dinner was good, and it pleased me to no end to see everyone enjoying the food. We ended up seating 12 adults for dinner, along with two kids. We didn’t notice much difference taste-wise between the organically grown, high-dollar bird and the $6 Wal-Mart bird, but it was fun trying something different. We can’t afford to buy the organic ones every year – this Thanksgiving proved very pricey after all of that, even if it was socially responsible and all that good stuff.
Okay, for Howie’s sister Gwen, pictures! Dad was seated early on, and in this photo is obviously eager for the food to be served! I didn’t get many photos of people because I was busy cooking and so forth, but there’s a few.
* Blind Baking is to pre-bake a crust without the filling. It firms up the crust so your filling won’t soak into it and make it gooey or unstable.