I have left the ways of my foremothers with my pies. My paternal grandmother taught me to make pie crust when I was about 13. The key ingredient was “hurry!” She used all purpose flour, salt and Crisco to make a tender “long flaked” pie crust. I continued to make pie crust this way for a long time, until forced by a sick friend’s restricted diet to experiment with butter crusts. Butter is more difficult to work than Crisco while cutting in, but more forgiving in the rolling stage. It imparts a flavor to pie crust that is wonderful. And since butter is harder to cut in, I use my food processor to do it. (Sorry, Grandma. No, Daddy, I still make you the Crisco crust.)
Now I have gone even farther, however. Not only do I use butter, but I always use at least half whole-wheat flour. I love the flavor whole-wheat flour gives to fruit pies. It brings an added nuttiness that enhances the whole flavor experience. I made one pie crust with whole-wheat pastry flour, but it was so tender I had to lay it onto the pie plate in pieces. It tasted wonderful but looked more like a cobbler cobbled together than a pie.
I recently got into my head to try a buttermilk pie. I love puddings and custards, and thought I should try this out with a whole wheat crust. Lulu was my helper for this pie, and while I made the pie crust, she stirred together the ingredients for the custard.
For the pie crust:
1 ½ cups whole wheat flour
½ cup butter
1 teaspoon salt
Sometimes I add 1 Tablespoon sugar to this crust, but not usually.
Cut the butter in pieces and put it in the food processor along with the flour and salt. Whirl until the butter is in small pieces (pea size and smaller.) Remove to a bowl. Add cold water (about ¼ cup) until you can gather the dough together into a ball with your fingers. Form into a ball, then press out into a disk. Wrap in plastic wrap and put in the refrigerator for at least 20 minutes, or until ready to use.
Buttermilk pie custard recipe borrowed from NPR with slight modifications
½ cup butter, melted
1 cup sugar (I used vanilla sugar)
1 cup buttermilk
2 Tablespoons flour
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Whisk all ingredients together. Roll out pie crust and place in pie plate. Dust with flour. Pour custard into the pie shell and sprinkle with sugar and freshly grated nutmeg. Bake at 325 degrees for about one hour. Custard will still appear jiggly in the middle but will set as it cools.
We enjoyed this pie warm and a little runny. It was not the prettiest pie we have ever eaten, but we did enjoy it — and we eat with our mouths, not our eyes (thank goodness.)