BVC Eats: Pie, Take 1

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.

I also have stories in Book View Cafe’s two steampunk anthologies, The Shadow Conspiracy and The Shadow Conspiracy II, as well as in BVC’s many other anthologies, including our latest, Beyond Grimm.



About Brenda Clough

Brenda W. Clough spent much of her childhood overseas, courtesy of the U.S. government. Her first fantasy novel, The Crystal Crown, was published by DAW in 1984. She has also written The Dragon of Mishbil (1985), The Realm Beneath (1986), and The Name of the Sun (1988). Her children’s novel, An Impossumble Summer (1992), is set in her own house in Virginia, where she lives in a cottage at the edge of a forest. Her novel How Like a God, available from BVC, was published by Tor Books in 1997, and a sequel, Doors of Death and Life, was published in May 2000. Her latest novels from Book View Cafe include Revise the World (2009) and Speak to Our Desires. Her novel A Most Dangerous Woman is being serialized by Serial Box. Her novel The River Twice is newly available from BVC.


BVC Eats: Pie, Take 1 — 7 Comments

  1. Last night we agreed to go to a potluck with friends. The consensus was blueberry pie. So, once more into the breach, my friends. Since I am only going to make ONE pie, my question is: which other solution should I try this time? Should this second attempt involve a top crust with letters cut out of it, doily style, or a lattice top that forms letters?

  2. I’m a fan of cutouts myself, but if the filling bubbles up that could look … interesting. Maybe add some book-shaped vents on the edges? *grin*

  3. The charm of a modified lattice is that there are many, many fun things one could do with cut-out pieces of pie dough. I could cut out little books…

  4. Instead of getting my characters out of their current plot fix, I am considering whether rectangles of pie dough laid on the top of a blueberry pie would look like books, or just rectangles. Suppose I folded each rectangle in half? Not precisely, so that you could view the edges of the two ‘pages’. But this would call for more dough. Perhaps I had better do the letters -first-.

    • Cookie dough letters? Sugar cookies would show up against the dark fruit, and rolled ginger snaps against pale fruits.

      I’m hungry.

  5. My mother once realized she was short of pie crust. So the apple pie had a few cookie-cutter-cut-out leaves scattered across the top to look like it was on purpose.