Thursday, April 14, 2011

Anne Ylvisaker's Launch Day Pie

This is the last day of Anne Ylvisaker's posts celebrating the launch of her new book, The Luck of the Buttons. Anne and I met over 10 years ago at a national writing convention when neither of us could figure out how to assemble our nametags, and I always feel that befriending her there was the most valuable thing I garnered from that conference! I hope you read and enjoy her wonderful book. As it is set in 1929, it will charm readers of all ages. Tomorrow we will continue the pie theme with some pie crafts, too! -AA

This is my daughter’s senior year in high school and besides being a year of college applications, college decisions, dances, senioritis and the like, I’m also finding that it is a year of last minute lessons. Nearly daily I think of some piece of wisdom I haven’t passed on, some skill I haven’t yet taught her. I feel like I’m cramming for a test: Daughter Launch, The Final Exam.

Maria and I made pie on Tuesday to celebrate the launch of The Luck of the Buttons. We dithered for several days over what kind we would make, not landing on custard until the day of. But one thing was certain, we’d need a standard pastry crust.

So on Sunday, while Dan and I were out, Maria decided to make the piecrust on her own and put it in the freezer to be ready for pie making after school on Tuesday. I had told her my mother’s story (see Tuesday’s post). How hard could it be? But here’s the kicker. She didn’t know to use the Betty Crocker recipe. Yes, seventeen (“nearly eighteen” by her count) years of mothering and I had left piecrust out of the curriculum. Me? Forget pie?

Maria found a crust recipe in a book I will not name. She made four balls of dough (ever the over-achiever!) and tucked them in the freezer. Yesterday after school, we met in the kitchen, divided the tasks, and set the oven to 450. You roll out the crust, Maria suggested, and I’ll mix the custard.

The dough crumbled at the first press. I patted and cajoled, thinking it needed simply to be warmed up, but it only got crumblier. So I swept the whole works into a spare pie plate to get it out of the way and took another ball. This one fared a little better in the rolling, but when I folded it for transfer, it split into several pieces.

It occurred to me that this was a very Button-like experience. Granny would have muttered, “Just our luck,” and poked someone with her cane. But we took a Tugs-like attitude and persevered. We mashed both crusts into the pie plates with our hands, patching as needed. We poured in the milky filling and baked.

While the results would not have won any state fair ribbons for beauty, the custard was perfection, firm but not cracked, with a soothing vanilla/nutmeg flavor. And I’ll be darned if that crust wasn’t flaky.

Betty Crocker’s Custard Pie

Pastry for 9-inch One-Crust Pie (though we found that the filling filled two shells)
4 eggs
2/3 cup sugar
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 2/3 cups milk
1 teaspoon vanilla

Heat oven to 450. Prepare pastry. Beat eggs slightly with hand beater; beat in remaining ingredients. Pour into pastry-lined pie plate. Bake 20 minutes.

Reduce oven temperature to 350. Bake until knife inserted halfway between center and edge comes out clean, 15-20 minutes longer.


Anne said...

Aw, thanks, Amy! Lucky me to have met you!

Anne said...

I can't wait to see what the pie craft is going to be!