Thursday, November 22, 2012

Adventures With Baking...

So today I'm making two pies for Thanksgiving, pumpkin and pecan. I get out all my implements of kitchen destruction and have at it, starting with the pie crust. Now, I've always been able to knock pie crusts right out with no problem. Today? Here at nearly 5000 feet? With an extra-dry, no humidity day?


My very first batch of good ol' shortening pie crust dough went together OK until I'd mixed it all and was forming it into a ball. Then it suddenly seized.


I tell you, I've dug stones outta my goddamned back yard that were softer. The thing was an instarock. Now I'm stubborn, so I tried rewetting it a bit to try and save doughrock.

No soap. It's now just a slimey rock. Oh, well, into the trash can it went with a resounding 'thud'.

I know better than to try the same thing, expecting different results. Off to the Internet I fly for advice, where I decide to switch up my pie crust fats a bit and go with a half butter/half shortening recipe, which I have never tried. But desperate times and all that stuff...

I follow the directions, which since they were on a forum thread were offhanded at best. Gonna try using my big ol' honkin Cuisinart food processor to mix the fats and let it earn it's keep a bit. Now...I've had the thing long enough to know that centrifugal force is a scientific fact and stuff sticks to the bowl but heck, all these other people are doing it, so it must work. Right?


I cut the chilled butter into small bits and toss it in, then hit the 'pulse' button. Haha, they do as I suspect and instantly fling themselves against the sides of the processor bowl, clinging like barnacles. I twist the top off and smoosh the butter back down with a spatula, and try again.

Same result.

OK. Maybe if I put the shortening in and try to mix them, some kind of wonderful baking-chemical-science-y magic thing will happen to prevent the stuff from sticking to the damned bowl...

No. Same result. OK.

Scrape goop down again, putting it well into the blades. Hit pulse. Stuff joyously leaps for the sides of the bowl and stays there. It's happening so quickly it boggles the mind, it seems preternatural.

Open lid. Scrape. Replace lid. Hit pulse. Lather, rinse, repeat. Ok, ok, OKAY!

Now, after about 10 tries I started to suspect that all these people online were crazed maniacs who posted maliciously in pie crust forums, and broke out all my $2 cuss words in a muttered, running, free-association rant. Some of it not so 'muttered'. I finally give up on the dumb Cuisinart and finish mixing the fats in a bowl with a pastry cutter, like normal humans do. Works great and I'm happy. In goes the flour, mix with the pastry cutter, add water, mix. Hallelujah, we have pie crust dough! Into the fridge it goes to chill.

Right about then my daughter sticks her head into the kitchen, looking a bit wary. She asks, "What was all the bad language for?"

Oops. Sorry kid.

I apologize and explain about the pie crust. Eventually the stuff is properly chilled, rolled out and made into pies with no further disasters. Won't know how it tastes until the whole family gets to eat it, yikes. Here's hoping the pie crust gods smile upon me.

I've suffered enough today.

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