Happy Sunday morning! Today we bake.
But first, a thought on weakness:
Isn’t it funny the stories we tell ourselves? “I’m not a numbers person.” “I’m bad at writing.” “I’m a terrible baker.” The later quote is my story of a self prescribed weakness. Where did this idea come from and when did it become my truth? Some activities come more naturally, thus many of us move toward strengths. More attention is paid to these strengths, we practice them, and become even better. Now, you’re REALLY not a good baker/mathematician/writer because you haven’t put any effort into it; makes perfect sense. But, for example, I never remember my mom being into computers. She always said, “Uh, I don’t know how these things work! I don’t get all these buttons.” But somewhere along the way (i.e. self taught for work) it really started to click. Did her personality change? Nope, she just put her energy into it and started to pay attention. Now she’s scolding me, “I really need to teach you how to format cells in Excel.” She all “Reboot!” this and “Reboot!” that.
So, Wednesday evening my dad and 93 year-old Grandma came over. Grandma Conrad lives in Seattle with dad for half the year and Wisconsin with Aunt Dawn the other half. While she’s here, they are on a mission to conquer my fear of baking. I was left with an odd thought when they left my studio the other night. When did I start telling myself I’m a terrible baker? It’s about measurement, temperature, and instinct. I never really spent time baking as a child (microwave cheesy eggs, yes, but nothing to do with dough). Now I’m on the verge of 27 and don’t have any comfort in baking. Well, it stops today.
Blueberry pie isn’t the ideal for mid-March, but the preparation is the same any time of year, plus it was Grandma’s choice. I’d like to thank my dad for being our stenographer and photographer. My grandma is the guru. Teach me, I say.
4 ½ cups blueberries, frozen, organic, wild
½ cup granulated sugar
¾ cup brown sugar
¼ cup tapioca, organic
¼ teaspoon cinnamon
Juice of ½ a lemon
2 cups unbleached flour
1 cup shortening, lard or Crisco, cold
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon vinegar or lemon juice
ice water (put a few ice cubes in a drinking glass with water)
Preheat oven to 425*. Mix filling and set aside.
In a separate bowl, combine flour, shortening and salt with a hand held pastry masher.
You’re looking for the consistency of cornmeal.
As the shortening begins to integrate, make a pond in the middle, adding lemon juice and cold water by the tablespoon, switch to a fork and mash together until the dough begins to stick together. You want a dough ball to barely hold together.
Make two balls, one goes on a plate in the fridge.
Dad and Grandma forgot to bring a rolling pin, so we used a wine bottle. Charles Shaw would be proud.
Dust a clean surface with flour and begin rolling dough. “A patched crust is a good crust,” Grandma says.
When crust is 1/16” thin, roll half the dough onto the rolling pin (wine bottle), slide pie dish under dough and lower crust down. Fill with blueberry mixture, dot with 5 dabs of butter; roll out the second dough ball, cover pie.
Press bottom and top crusts together with fingers, cut away excess, crimp with a fork.
Slice 4 ‘breathing holes’ into top crust so the juice has an escape. Brush with milk, sprinkle cinnamon and sugar.
Bake 425* for 15 minutes, until the crust begins to brown. Drop temp to 350*, bake 45 minutes. Let cool and serve to people you love.
While you’re waiting, roll out excess dough, sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar bake for 10-15 minutes. This little snack is worth making the pie – and a Conrad family tradition.