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.
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:
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.
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.