How to Prepare and Cook Pies

How to prepare and cook pies. Includes how to roll pie crust, recipes for whole wheat and graham cracker crusts, key lime pie, vegan apple cider pie, whiskey sweet potato pie and mocha ice cream pie.

| October/November 1997

How to prepare and cook pies. When your son asks, "What's a rolling pin?" it's time to put him to work using one. 

Not long ago I sent my mother a card showing a '50s photo of a June Cleaver look-alike rolling out a pie crust. The inside caption read, " I don't know what she's doing either. Must be some kind of ancient household ritual." Which brings me to why I'm writing about pie-making in the fast-paced '90s. Besides the fact that my editor and I both love pies, the truth is that I fear for the ancient household ritual of how to prepare and cook pies. As soon as the year 2000, rolling pins could become artifacts. (Just the other day in an antique store I heard a teenage girl ask her mother the purpose of this artifact.) At this very moment my teenage son is rolling out a pie crust and muttering words that aren't allowed in this house. All because I don't want homemade pies to be nothing more than a happy memory because the art died out with his generation of the Vassal-Bokram clan. I don't think my two sisters could make a pie to save their lives. (Bye, bye Miss American Pie) I don't want future generations to think that pies are born in bakeries.

When I was first married, I used to make lots of pies. I pursued my pie-baking hobby after buying a vintage rolling pin at a flea market. I found it relaxing, rolling out the dough and seeing if I could make it resemble a circle. (I've often thought I could make millions by inventing a square pie pan.) Back then I was big on whole grains, natural sweeteners, and tons of butter. For '90s pies, I've had to cut back on fat and time since I'm not hanging around the stove all day. For those reasons, I rarely make a double-crusted pie. I usually resort to quick-bake, no-bake, or an occasional store-bought pie shell. But I have found that in the food processor age, pie baking can be faster and easier than it was in the good ole days. And since homemade pies are rare, they're impressive. (Wow, Herbie, did you see that fabulous round thing that Phyllis made?) So dig out that rolling pin and relax a little. Don't forget, you're leaving a legacy.

Here are some easy, basic pie crusts.

Food Processor Whole Wheat Pie Crust*

Makes one 9-inch crust

1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour (or unbleached white flour if pastry flour is unavailable)
1/2 cup unbleached white flour
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, well chilled
3 tablespoons soy or safflower margarine, frozen
pinch of salt
2-3 tablespoons cold water

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