The Virgin Stove

Making everything for the first time

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Butterscotch Birthday Pie

Yes, yes, I know that it’s really a Thanksgiving pie. But I don’t celebrate Thanksgiving so I made it for my birthday picnic instead.

This wasn’t made solely by me but was a group project: I did the combining and directing, Kim flattened the hard dough into a circle, Chie strained the filling, and Ina contributed arm power in whipping the cream.

I’ve never made a pie before so this was all new to me. First time and I still chose not to buy a pre-made crust. How cocky of me! Luckily, my friends were around to help out.

I used Smitten Kitchen’s pie crust 102 recipe, the non-alcoholic one without the shortening. I don’t have a pastry blender but I discovered that my potato masher worked just as well in combining the butter with the flour. The mesh shaped masher helped form the butter into little pea-sized beads. After that, it was easy enough to mold it with my hands into a ball and chill it for a few hours.

Rolling the very cold dough out was harder than I thought. I rolled the first pie and Kim did the second. She was laughing the whole time because it was shaped like Europe (or was it Australia?) instead of a circle. But Kim was a trooper and kept at it.

I completely underestimated the size of the pie crust. I had no idea that it would shrink while baking! Next time, I’ll remember to leave a lot of room for shrinkage. I found out that it’s also better to punch little air holes with a toothpick into the crust before sticking it in the oven – this prevents it from creating air pockets and ruining the shape of the bottom.

The filling gave us less trouble. At first. We were planning to skip the whole “pour through a wire mesh strainer” part but the filling did end up having solid, round, floury bits in spite of our best efforts to keep it smooth. So Chie held the strainer and forced the filling through, I scraped the bottom with a spoon and Kim ate the floury bits.

The next day, after the pie was appropriately chilled, we were in a hurry to prepare the whipped cream. I forgot to bring the electric mixer (which was in Apartment #1) to Apartment #2 where the pies were. So, using female arm power, Chie, Ina and I whisked the whipped cream and sugar into a serviceable topping for the pies. Here’s Ina with a pie:

For a first-time effort, it really wasn’t bad. The crust may have been less than stellar and I believe the fault lay in my preparation rather than the recipe. The pie was still delicious according to the guests. Perhaps they were just being loyal, supportive friends… or maybe they really were telling the truth. 🙂 This is a pie that I would love to make for my family’s Christmas Eve dinner.

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