All we need is a little patience.
I am a good cook and a better baker. I can make puff pastry, cream puffs, eclairs, cannolis – you name it I’ve made it. Souffle? It’s a snap! Tiramisu? Of course! I’m not afraid to try to make anything.
Except for pie dough.
Somehow, pie dough eludes me. I’ve only ever successfully made it once, and that was back in 1987 for a feast I was helping with, where we made 20 meat pies to serve. We used the food processor (something I would never have thought of doing) and the dough came out beautifully. We rolled out crust after crust, and those pies were gorgeous.
I can’t take any credit for it, a friend named Katie Fenshaw was the person who taught me to make the crusts that way. As I didn’t own a food processor, I kept trying to do it the old-fashioned way, and it always comes out the same – it breaks when I try to roll it, splits when I re-roll it. After two tries, I know the pastry will not work, and I throw it away.
For the record, I also don’t make rolled out cookies, I usually make drop biscuits, and I would rather buy my puff pastry than try to make it these days.I hate fondant so much that I gave away all my fondant tools to a friend for her daughter’s cake business. I don’t know why I have such a hard time dealing with the rolling pin.
Maybe it’s the frustration of not being perfect at something right away that’s making me upset. I do have that awful perfectionist streak, and I can’t understand why my pie crusts fail, even when I’m following the directions to the letter. Maybe I just don’t like having to clean up my rolling mat and rolling pin afterward. I do hate having to do dishes.
Maybe I’m just impatient. Having to wait for the pie crust to rest, making sure I have ice water to add (not just cold water, ice water), letting the pie crust warm up enough to work with – it’s all too much. I’m good with things like bread, where I know I’m going to have active time, and then resting time where I can go do things, and then some active time again and then resting time, and then baking time. For some reason, this same patience eludes me with pie dough.
At some point, I’m going to have to knuckle down and make pie dough on my own. I can’t keep running to the store to buy a pre-made crust (and then wait for it to come to room temperature so I can use it.) every time I want to make a pie. It’s sort of a metaphor for how dependent we’ve become on pre-made foods. We’d rather go get a somewhat bland rotisserie chicken at the market than cook one ourselves. (OK, bad example – it takes a couple of hours to do a roasted chicken.)
Maybe I should cut myself a little slack. After all, it’s not as if it’s my job to do this – it’s just something I wish I could do better. And the only way to get better at it is to practice.