When I was ten years old, I sat on a porch swing slowly swinging while my mom and a friend chatted. There was a slight breeze, which carried the sweet smell of freshly cut grass and heat. They talked about the canning they had to do that week, what fruit was in season, and how the garden was coming along.
“I might just have Regina make some pies with the peaches this week,” said my mom.
“Regina can make pies by herself?” asked her friend. Or do you mean that you just let her add the filling?” I heard the doubtful tone in her voice through the squeaks of the porch swing.
“No, she can make the pastry too,” my mom assured her. She can make pies from beginning to end, all by herself.” I heard the pride in her voice and felt taller immediately.
Her friend turned to me, “Do you really roll out the pastry yourself?” she asked, smiling skeptically.
I nodded but didn’t say anything. I wasn’t exactly chatty as a ten-year-old, but I could roll out the pastry and pat it carefully into the pan. My mom had shown me how to use just enough flour to keep it from sticking, but not so much that it made the pastry tough and dry.
Making pies is still one of my favorite things to do. Rubbing flour and butter together, carefully stirring in ice water and milk then sprinkling flour on my pastry mat.
I love to pull out my heavy marble rolling pin that was a wedding present. I keep it in the lower cupboard, just above a chip in my tile floor where the rolling pin fell off the counter one day while I was making pies.
Gently coaxing the pastry into a perfect circle, then patting it into the pan reminds me of when I was ten and made three pies at once so there would be enough for all of us. I think of when I was sixteen and would roll out thirty pies in an afternoon to sell at the farmers market in town. It’s a life skill I’m proud to have.
Regina’s Best Pastry Recipe
*Makes three regular sized pie crusts
★ 3 cups flour
(Usually a pastry flour makes a flakier crust, but I’ve been using a white spelt flour that keeps turning out flaky and delicious!)
★ 1 tsp salt
★ 1 cup cold butter, cut into small chunks (no substitutes, shortening makes a crust taste like, well, shortening and we don’t like that! Just keep it real)
Cut the butter into the flour with a pastry blender or large fork until it’s in pea-sized crumbs.
★ ⅓ cup ice water
★ ⅓ cup iced milk
★ ⅓ cup olive oil (Any oil will work here. I started using olive oil after I quit buying canola oil.)
1. Pour into the flour and butter, and mix gently with a big spoon just until the mixture comes together into a ball.
2. Sprinkle flour onto your pastry mat or clean surface.
3. Shape the pastry into a round ball, then place it in the center. The reason for the round shape is that it will make rolling your pastry into a circle that much easier!
4. Sprinkle a bit of flour on top, then gently begin rolling. Don’t press too hard or it will become uneven. Start in the center and roll outward, working your way around in a circle. Halfway through, flip your pastry and sprinkle just a bit more flour.
5. Once it’s the correct size for your pan, carefully roll it onto your rolling pin and unroll it onto the pan. After you pat it into place, use a sharp knife to trim the dough close to the edge of the pan. Flute the edges if you like, that’s one of the fun parts!
Use this pastry for any recipe that calls for an unbaked pie shell.
Rhubarb Custard Pie Recipe
Rhubarb custard has always been one of my favorites. The tangy fruit gives you bursts of tartness balancing the creamy sweet custard. The flaky pastry simply melts in your mouth for the perfect early summer treat. Here’s the recipe! And it couldn’t be simpler.
Prep time: 10 mins
Cook time: 50 mins
Total time: 1 hour
★ 1 unbaked pie shell
★ 3 c. rhubarb cut into medium pieces
★ 1¼ c. sugar
★ 3 eggs beaten
★ 1 c. heavy whipping cream
★ 3 Tbsp. flour
★ ½ tsp. salt
1. Place rhubarb in pie shell.
2. In a separate bowl, mix remaining ingredients together and pour over rhubarb.
3. Bake 10 minutes at 400°, and then 40 minutes at 350°.
4. Let cool completely before serving and store refrigerated.
Rhubarb Custard Pie filling recipe from The Creative Bite.