I got some comments on Facebook and in real life that it was unforgivable that I was asked to bake six pies for the teacher appreciation dinner at school yesterday. I suppose I should mention that the president of the PTO and the hospitality officer both go to church with me and are good friends of mine. They seem to feel sort of reverant about my pies and if you can't ask big favors of your friends, well then, who?
Oh, and they also paid me.
I managed my time well for this project, if I may boast. I made my pie crusts well in advance and put them in pie-sized blobs in the freezer. Two days before the meal, I put the frozen blobs in the fridge to thaw. The morning before the meal, I rolled out and baked the two crusts that needed to be pre-baked before filling. That afternoon, I made a strawberry pie. I use a different pie crust for strawberry pie. It is easily made - mixed up and patted out in the pie pan. That evening, I filled those two pre-baked crusts, and rolled out and fluted two more crusts. I kind of decided at the last minute to do Erika's recipe for frozen coconut pie. I used a purchased graham cracker crust and it went together in less than 15 minutes. Great recipe. No baking required, just popped it in the freezer.
The morning of, I had four chilled (or frozen) pies ready to go and two pies yet to bake that were meant to be served warm. One was a Peach Cream Pie. I prefer to make it when peaches are in season, but since they aren't I had to resort to frozen peach slices. I consider it my best pie, so I didn't want to leave it off the menu. I'll share the recipe with you in late summer when I'm making the pie left and right.
The final pie was Rhubarb Crumble Pie, which I've never made before. My family likes rhubarb, but when I use it, I usually make a crisp. Since pies were the thing this week, I found this recipe for and it was a rousing success. The teachers really liked it.
Rhubarb Crumble Pie
1 unbaked 9-inch pie crust
1 1/2 lbs. rhubarb stalks
1/3 c. water
3 T flour
3/4 c. sugar
1/4 c. butter
1/2 c. sugar
1/2 c. flour
1/3 c. old-fashioned rolled oats
1/2 t. cinnamon
1. Preheat oven to 350.
2. Trim and rinse rhubarb stalks. Slice them into 1/2 - 1 inch chunks. Especially large stalks might need to be cut in half lengthwise.
3. Combine the rhubarb and water in a medium saucepan. In a small bowl, combine 3 T flour and 3/4 c. sugar. Mix it up well and add it to the rhubarb mixture. Stir it up in the saucepan and bring the whole thing just to a boil.
4. Reduce heat and stir often while it cooks for five minutes. It will thicken significantly, but another goal is to get the rhubarb tender. Remove from heat. The recipe suggests that you could add some red food coloring at this point to make the filling more attractive, but I didn't do that.
5. Combine the topping ingredients in a small bowl until blended and crumbly. Sprinkle over the top of the pie. Bake for 35-45 minutes, until topping is browned and filling is bubbly.
6. Serve warm.
The run down of the pies was this: banana cream, peanut butter (When I have to make large amounts of pies, I always make these two, because I can just make a big batch of vanilla pudding and line the bottom of the pies with different ingredients: banana slices or peanut butter crumbs.), frozen coconut cream, strawberry, peach cream and rhubarb crumble.
The teachers were very appreciative of the whole meal and couldn't believe they were getting homemade pies. See, that's why I feel sort of evangelical about kitchen work. These are things that our mothers and grandmothers did without thinking they were special. And it seems insurmountable to many of my contemporaries. I really would hate for this kind baking to be lost and I hope my kids will feel like it's something they could do when they are grown.
(Anyway, I forgot to tell you that the rest of the meal was Haystacks. I think this might be a colloquial kind of thing that all of you may not know about. Hmmm... maybe it's another blog entry...)
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