Easy as pie: Good crust can put average one over the topIf there is one aspect of my culinary expertise that I would like to expand upon it would be baking.
By: Jeff Tiedeman, Grand Forks Herald
If there is one aspect of my culinary expertise that I would like to expand upon it would be baking.
While baking never has been one of my strong points when it comes to food, I have been getting better at it.
A good case in point is my apple crisps. Everyone just loves them. But I can’t entirely take credit for them because the recipe is such a superb one. And as all cooks know, just because you have a good recipe doesn’t mean the outcome is guaranteed.
I’ve also become pretty adept at making banana and zucchini bread, but that’s hardly a challenge — in my estimation.
My most recent baking endeavor was making parsnip spice cake, complete with homemade cream cheese frosting. (See recipe at www.grandforksherald.com/event/tag/group/ Features/tag/food/.) I’ve made two in the past couple of weeks, and both turned out just great. Anyone who’s tried a piece had nothing but praise.
Now, I plan on turning my attention to making pie-making.
Therese has the corner on pies in our house. She makes an outstanding apple pie. I think her crust is what sets it apart. She uses a recipe from her vintage red-and-white-checkered Better Homes and Gardens cookbook.
But the banana cream pie she recently made (recipe also is from BHG cookbook) might be my favorite. (She used ginger snaps instead of graham crackers for the cookie crumb crust.)
Besides tapping Therese’s expertise, I’ve picked up a couple of tips from 29-year-old Noelle Myer, Grand Forks. Noelle recently participated in Taste of Home magazine’s First Annual Great American Pie Show, which was held in the Branson (Mo.) Convention Center.
Noelle was among 12 finalists in the contest. And although her Apple Praline Pie didn’t place in the top four and she was a little disappointed, the experience of taking part in her first cooking contest made up for it, Noelle said.
“I didn’t go there with the idea that I would finish first, so it was a lot of fun,” said Noelle, who started entering cooking contests just last year. “It was a really good learning experience of how things work at cook-offs — like working in front of an audience with cameras in your face. And a couple of the judges had some real encouraging things to say about my recipe.”
As I surmised, Noelle said the hardest part about making a pie is the crust, “along with the fact it’s not something you typically can pop in the oven and be done in five minutes.”
What’s the secret to Noelle’s pie crust?
Believe it or not, it’s a food processor.
“It makes it so much easier,” she said. “If doing it by hand, it’s typically easy to overwork the dough; you want to work the dough as little as possible.”
Noelle said she puts everything in the food processor before dumping in ice water.
“It balls up right away; then you divide it and roll it out. It keeps everything as cold as possible.”
Noelle started making her Apple Praline Pie (she likes to use Granny Smiths, butter instead of shortening and apple cider vinegar instead of white) when about 10 years old, so I have a little ways to catch up.
But that’s OK, since I’m not planning on entering any contests.
Tiedeman is food editor at the Herald. Reach him at 780-1136 or toll-free at (800) 477-6572, or e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.