Thanksgiving #3: Macgyver Pie

Everyone knows that “Thanksgiving” is synonymous with “turkey,” but for me, pie comes in as a close second.  With Thanksgiving just days away, I was in the mood to make some kind of pie last weekend.  Pie-making abroad can present certain challenges: I have no pie pan, no food processor, no pastry blender and no rolling pin.  Despite lack of everything but ingredients, I was able to make a wonderfully pie-esque dessert.  In this post, I will share my tips with you in case you ever need to throw together a pie, Macgyver-style.

Apple Walnut Gorgonzola Rustic Tart

1. Pie = Rustic Tart = Galette

First step: change your perspective.  You are no longer making pie; you are making a rustic tart or galette.  A galette is a free-form pie baked on a cookie sheet or other flat pan.  If you don’t have a flat pan, you can probably find one at any discount store for under 2 Euro.  I got mine at Posten-Börse, which is basically Dollar General.  My favorite recipe blog, Simply Recipes, has tons of recipes for rustic tarts.

2. Rolling Pin

Thanks to the countless hours of Food Network programming I have absorbed over the years, I knew a way out of this one: a wine bottle.  All of you fans of Good Eats out there will remember the episode in which Alton Brown teaches bachelors how to cook.  He uses an empty bottle, but a full one worked well for me and had a nice weight to it.  Just make sure you wash it first.

3. Food Processor or Pastry Blender

A food processor makes homemade crusts so easy.  When I was a kid, we didn’t have one.  Instead, my mom would “let me help with the pies” by making me cut the butter into the flour with two butter knives.  I now know that this is the worst job ever.  Naturally, I didn’t bring my food processor with me.  I had packed my pastry blender, but when my suitcase was slightly overweight, it had to go.  I read blog comment that suggested freezing a stick of butter and using a grater to grate it into the dry ingredients.  I have a cheese grater, so I tried it.  Not only did it work, but I think this was the #1, all-time best crust I have ever made.  Here’s a photo:

Just look at those layers of flaky goodness!

Seriously.  I may have inadvertently made a giant croissant with pie filling.  It was amazing.  If you don’t have a grater in your kitchen, and you are in Germany, you might have one of those sliding Späzle makers.  It would work well.  Finally, if you have neither of those things, get two butter knives and get to work, my friend.  Your forearms will be ripped.

4. Butter

Most bakers know that a stick of butter is 1/2 cup.  I had forgotten that it is also a 1/4 pound or approximately 113 grams.  If you have the standard 250g block of butter, this is slightly less than half of the block.  Easy!

I ended up with an Apple Walnut Gongonzola Rustic Tart.  Since the maple syrup in the grocery store here is a million dollars, I substituted honey.  It was heavenly.  If any of you out there are baked brie fans, this tart will be right up your alley.  Make it immediately.

I think this could be a challenge on Top Chef.

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About heidihefeweizen

I am a 29 year-old American woman who has received a Fulbright scholarship to work as an English teaching assistant in a German high school.
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7 Responses to Thanksgiving #3: Macgyver Pie

  1. Uli says:

    Amanda, this looks absolutely delicious! It reminds me of the Apfelstrudel from back home. Now I have to get those pie/Apfelstrudel cravings out of my head…

  2. kathleen says:

    Confession: I have never made a pie crust. (I’m more of a cake person myself.) But this inspires me to make something flaky and delicious! Maybe over my Christmas break/post-family party time I will get to playing in the kitchen… This looks incredible!

  3. Steve says:

    BIG THANKSGIVING TRADITION: MINCEMEAT PIE. Do they have anything like this in Germany or even Continental Europe? I’ve got to have at least one each year to make the holidays right.

  4. maryjo137 says:

    Apple Galette, yummy. Looks almost as good as your blueberry pie, which by the way is fabuloso.
    I’ve been the baking mood myself and am quite proud of what I have produced lately.
    Have a wonderful holiday with your sweetie and friends, you both will be missed for desert at my house on turkey day. Yikes Steve, mincemeat pie!! Never had.

  5. You are a chef deluxe!!! The rustic tart looks wonderful. Maybe you will make it for our Christmas Dinner. As Grandma Lapore used to say, “anyone can cook it takes a special person with special talents to bake!” Keep baking……….Aunt Jo is right your Blueberry pie was grand. Yes Steve, what is a mincemeat pie? Never had one. Debbie

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