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Heartland : Notes From the Nook

June 17, 1993|KATHIE JENKINS

When rolling out the pie dough, make sure you roll in every direction, or you'll get what Helen Myhre calls "Africa." The crust will not be round and it'll be difficult to fit into the pan. Of course, anyone who turns out 150 pies a day ought to know a thing or two about pie. Myhre, known as Wisconsin's Queen of Pies, no longer needs to measure. A scoop of flour, some shortening, "and then I go under the faucet and mix until it feels right." A pro, she makes a dozen pies at a time. But even if you are only making one, Myhre suggests a few things you can do to improve your pie making.

* "Taste everything as you go. A pinch of salt can make all the difference. And use your finger instead of a spoon. Ingredients change flavor when they hit metal or wood." * "When measuring shortening, wet the measuring cup first and the shortening will slide right out. Home-rendered lard makes the best pie crust, but it's practically impossible to get. Store-bought lard is awful. There is something in that lard to purify it that gives it a bad flavor. I use butter-flavor Crisco. I tried Spry, but it's waxy and just doesn't mix well; it breaks up." * "Always use your fingers to mix pie dough. But don't mix too long or the crust will get tough." * "For better flavor, crusts should be well browned. Plus, it keeps them from getting soggy after you add filling." * "A rolling pin should be wooden and heavy. One about five pounds works fine." * "Heap the filling into the crust. I've never liked a skinny pie." * "Insert a knife into the slits of a double-crust pie. It should come out clear. If it's sugary, the pie needs more baking time." * "When following a recipe, do the best you can to be precise, but remember, nothing turns out if you're \o7 too \f7 fussy." * "Meringues, however, are another matter. When making one, be sure the bowl is completely clean and that no egg yolk drips into the white. And use medium eggs instead of large. Large eggs have a lot of water. If the meringue doesn't come out right, it probably means the eggs were in cold storage too long." * "Don't dump all the meringue on the pie at once; add about a quarter of an inch at a time. And spread it around with a licker (rubber spatula) to get the bubbles out." * "When removing a meringue pie from the oven, use thin pot holders. Thick ones will bunch up and tear the meringue."

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