What with this past week being Christmas and all, I was thinking of trying to make a tortiere, which is a Canadian meat pie traditionally served at the holidays. I’ve only ever tasted a tortiere once, and that was many, many, years ago, and it seemed like a good fit for my second week pie.
But then fate intervened.
I have a cousin Emma, and she has an aunt who is an artist. When Emma was a little girl — maybe around 10? — she served as the model for the pictures her aunt drew for a children’s book, called Selina and the Bear Paw Quilt:
Why, there’s Emma right there on the cover!
A year or so later, there was a sequel, Selina and the Shoo-fly Pie:
When my grandmother passed away this past summer, she had a copy of both books in her closet. My mom gave them to me to share with my kids. About a week or so ago, Gal Smiley was leafing through the second book when a recipe for Shoofly Pie fell out of it. My Nana must have tucked it inside the book at some point.
So you must admit, it seemed fated. Here it is:
I made this pie last Wednesday morning, just hours before I fell ill with the stomach flu. It was supposed to be for Christmas Eve dinner, but by then I was so sick I couldn’t even look at crackers, let alone pie. In the end, only FameThrowa was up to having a piece. I eventually tried a couple of bites on Sunday, the 27th, before pitching the whole thing due to nausea. I was too sick to leave the house to give it away, and I didn’t want to invite any tasters over to our din of germs.
So that was that. Not exactly the result I was hoping for.
How was the pie? Shoofly pie is a very, very heavy pie. It’s made with molasses — a LOT of molasses — with a butter/flour/sugar crumble added in layers. The overall result is a delicious, sweet pie that is awesome for about three bites. Anything more than that, and your entire stomach is completely bloated. No room for anything else. Although it is a sweet pie, it’s really meant to be a meal, not a dessert. I might make it again for a brunch or a fancy breakfast or an afternoon tea, or something like that, but not as an after-dinner item.
Also, the molasses bubbled over all over the oven, so beware shoofly pie makers — cookie sheet, oven fan, and smoke alarm dectector deactivation required.
As for the pastry, it went both better and worse this time around. I kept everything cold cold cold and the mixing part went fabulously well. I created a ball of pastry with minimal touching and popped it in the fridge and I was feeling really good about it.
Then the rolling part was a disaster — it totally stuck to the counter, so I had to pry it up with a fork after it was rolled out, and it broke into a thousand pieces. In the end I had to kind of piece it together in the pie plate (because I thought re-rolling it would be bad, although in retrospect, it is probably what I should have done). It barely stuck together and chunks kept falling off the side and it was so very, very frustrating to work with.
Then, because the molasses goes in as a liquid, the pastry sucked it all up. In the end you can hardly tell there is a pie crust there at all — it’s saturated with molasses. It’s good, but not very pastry-like. The only place you can taste the pastry alone is around the edge, where it was so fragile and already so piecemeal that most of it crumbled away as I lifted it out of the oven. The bits that were left were really good, though. Is it possible for pastry to be too flaky?
Anyway, all in all, a frustrating pie-making experience, and an even more frustrating pie non-eating experience. Bleh.
This week I’m skipping the pie because we are supposedly travelling to Toronto, although Little Miss Sunshine is STILL sick (bleh bleh bleh) so heaven only knows what the heck we are actually going to do. If we’re not travelling, though, I’m probably busy washing barf-covered sheets, so I’m still thinking that pie-making can wait until next week, don’t you think?
Next week, I think I’ll try something easier and lighter.