A recent Joy Trip to Door County Wisconsin prompted me to try my hand again at making pie. Several days of light hiking, biking and kayaking through this agrarian tourist community on the shores of Lake Michigan inspired reflection upon the practical use of fresh local produce in the preparation fun and tasty food.
I had the pleasure seeing a cooking demonstration at the Washington Hotel & Culinary School on Washington Island. A short ferry ride from Gills Rock delivered me with a small contingent of travel writers to tour the grounds to learn the finer points of making pie crust. The recipe I learned required much more butter than I could have imagined and I’ve never used lard in cooking before. But the end result is a deliciously flaky and flavorful pastry that perfectly complements a warm fruit filling.
• 4 cups flour
• 16 oz. butter
• 5 oz. lard
• 2 tsp. salt
• 2/3-cup ice water
Yield = 3 double layer pie crusts
Blend flour, salt and butter slowly with your hands. Head baker Heidi Gilbertson suggests using just your fingers only up to the second knuckle. Avoid excessive handling. The butter should be as cold as possible. Mix until the consistency of loose crumbs. Add lard also very cold. Pour in ice water a few ounces at a time and continue to mix until a rough ball. Put in plastic bag and refrigerate 30 minutes.
Strawberry Rhubarb filling
Early in the summer strawberries and rhubarb start making their appearance in gardens and farmer’s markets. The two combine to make a sweet/tart confection that’s a rich sensation of taste. The following recipe is modified from one found at www.simplyrecipes.com.
• 3 cups rhubarb stalks cut into 1/2 inch pieces
(Trim the outside stringy layer of large rhubarb stalks; make sure to trim away any and discard of the leaves which are poisonous; trim ends.)
• 1 cup strawberries, stemmed and sliced
• 1 cup sugar
• 3 Tablespoons of cornstarch
• 1/4 teaspoon of salt
• 1 teaspoon of grated orange peel
• 1 teaspoon of grated ginger root
1) Pre-heat oven to 400°F. Mix the rhubarb and the strawberries with the sugar, cornstarch, salt, orange rind and ginger. Let stand for 10 minutes.
2) Turn into a pastry lined pan. Top with the pastry, trim the edge, and crimp the top and bottom edges together. Cut slits in the top for the steam to escape.
3) Bake at 400°F for 20 minutes, reduce heat to 350°F, and bake an additional 30-40 minutes longer (40 to 50 minutes longer if doing a 10-inch pie). Cool on a rack.
Serve warm or cold. If you do cool to room temperature, the juices will have more time to thicken.
The total preparation time is just over an hour. The time spent baking is a good excuse to take a run or go for a long dog walk.
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