By Brenda Clough
Everybody loves pie, yes?
Last spring it was determined that no, we did not have a good photograph of a pie for March 14. I declared I would not only bake one, once the summer fruit pie season got underway, but get the words “Book View Cafe” into the crust, so that we would be ready for Pie Day next year. This is my first attempt at it.
I used a pastry wheel that holds alphabet letters. Unfortunately they are an annoying font, and the pie top’s rise and fall makes the lettering wobbly. Furthermore, pastry letters on a pastry ground, even when brushed with egg yolk and baked until crispy, do not ‘read’ very well. Not enough contrast. This is not what I would call a legible pie. It is, however, blueberry. And I am long master of piecrust and blueberry filling. This means that my son rapidly disposed of it without pausing to read the lettering on the top. I was able to grab a photograph before it vanished under his speeding fork.
I can visualize two ways to do it better. One is to roll out the top crust and then cut the letters out. Then you would get dark filling letters, surrounded by crust. This would be fussy work, like cutting out a doily. I always bake a veal and ham pie every summer — not more than one, because it is both laborious and spendy, but the savory pie dough would handle more easily than this piecrust did.
A better idea is a lattice-style pie. Only the piecrust lattice will not be woven, but simply form letters and words. This would allow me to select a font (if piecrust can be said to have a font), something blocky and sans serif. It would also call for a dark, uniform filling of some kind. Blueberries will be in season for another month. They are lumpy, but not as lumpy as peach. Of course pecans are quite uniform and tend to lie flat on the surface of a pie, and if you add extra pecans and some rum a pecan pie is stellar. If I bake several pies, doing words each time, I will either hit on a cooperative filling or get lucky with the lumpiness of cooking fruit.
It is nice if an idea works out perfectly the first shot. But more often, you have to take several passes at it, getting closer and closer each time. You have to tinker. Simon says he is ready to assist by eating these experiments.
My newest novel Speak to Our Desires is out exclusively from Book View Café.