Why We Shouldn't Be Intimidated by Pie

14919503751_44804b2901_z.jpgAs the entire world seemed to be embracing cupcakes—dedicated shops popping up, crazy combinations abounding—my heart and business eye said, “trend.” I wondered, what about the old American favorite? Apple, pumpkin, blueberry…what if we put our efforts toward pie?

Whether you like it à la mode, warm with a puddle of cream, or simply placed on a plate, pie satisfies with a lightly salted crunch of crust against yummy, local when possible, good-for-you, not-too-sweet fruit!

Unappreciated just ten years ago, real pie was hard to find in a restaurant, even in a diner, unless it came from a freezer. From my home base of Sweet Indulgence Desserts in Pleasant Gap, I’ve been making pie from scratch, with real ingredients, for 25 years. (Take that, cupcakes.) I use fresh—often local—and frozen fruit. No canned goo. You know, the kind where you’re lucky if you find a cherry? In my kitchen, each pie gets 4 cups of fruit.

Folks are intimidated by pies. Admittedly, pie crust can be somewhat tricky—I threw out my first several attempts!—but perseverance paid off.

To get it right, I read Joy of Cooking. Over and over. And then it just started to come out right. The little tips started to take hold, and I had pie. Really delicious pie. I’ve since developed a huge pie following, and now, well, this week we are selling our fruit and cream pies at several local restaurants.

So, if fruit pie is what you are looking for, Harrison’s Wine Grill, Red Horse Tavern, and Webster’s Bookstore Cafe all carry our freshly made fruit pies. Right now Strawberry Rhubarb and Raspberry Rhubarb are the best-sellers. Not surprising, since the local fresh fruits are in abundance.

If you want to try your hand at making a great, fresh-from-scratch pie, here are a few tips:

* Go shopping. Visit your farmers market and buy some wonderful, local strawberries and rhubarb. (It’s ok if you skip the rhubarb, but you are missing out!) Or some succulent raspberries or blueberries. You’ll need a quart of fruit for a 9″ pie.

* Brush your pies with Meyer Dairy milk and a small amount of sugar before baking.

* Try fine-cut or Minute tapioca (not pearl) in the filling. It gels the fruit together, and prevents a mess when you cut into it.

* There’s no need to overwhelm the fruit with loads of sugar. I don’t put sugar in my crust. In fact, our most frequent, not to mention favorite, compliment is, “I loved it, it wasn’t killer sweet!”

The most important tip? Stop telling yourself that you can’t. How many things that you do well did you perfect the very first time you tried?

When you do succeed, you’ll earn the sweetest reward of all: pie for dessert.


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