We were channel surfing when we came across this show. The waitress at this small gas station diner on the show said something quite profound. She said, “Making decisions is like baking a pie. It takes time and care.” So naturally, I baked a pie, a strawberry-banana pie to be exact.
But wait a second, how true was her statement? I thought about this as I knead the dough, cooking the filling and really throughout the whole process of making the pie. You know what, I think she might be on to something. A mark of a good pie (for me) lies in its crust. You want a crust that is strong enough to hold the filling when you take it out of the tin yet flaky enough that it just dissolves in your mouth in combination with the tastes of the filling. And so I think that her statement may be validated through the making of the crust of the pie. The filling isn’t usually that hard to make depending on what you want to use but making good dough for your pie is a little trickier.
You can start by using a simple piecrust recipe indicating which ingredients you will need and gather before making the dough. It should literally have all the information you need when you make the whole pie (the end product). Similarly, when we make decisions (or I guess when I make decisions) we want to know the relevant/significant information we need to know prior choosing. So you have all of these ingredients that contribute to the decision making process. The measurements of the ingredients vary because of their composition and role in making the dough. Just like weighing out the relevance of the information you’ve been given. Is that more or less important than the other thing? What makes it more important? Why do you need to add more of this than that? See the resemblance.
Now when you have all of these ingredients and are ready to start making the dough, you also usually add each ingredient in sequence. Meaning, dry ingredients, e.g. all-purpose flour, is first sifted in the bowl then comes the salt, sugar, ground spices (if you want to) then you add the chilled butter and lastly the cold water. You may not necessarily have to do it in that order it just makes it more methodical. The point I want to get at is that, when you make decisions, especially BIG decisions, it’s a process. But I think what comes next is more important.
Let’s say you have all of your ingredients and your ready to start combining everything you have. You start kneading the dough using the bottom of your palm and you’re really working it, but then you stop after a certain point because you don’t want to overwork the dough. What makes a piecrust flaky is the chilled butter and when you keep working on it the butter gradually heats up and melts. Reflexive of when you overthink about something way too much that everything gets convoluted and you’re stuck in some limbo because now, you can’t or you’re too worked up to make a decision. So what are you stuck with? A tough dough and an even tougher situation. I am especially known for overthinking and over analyzing everything. We just gotta know when to stop kneading.
Meanwhile, once you’ve made your dough and wrapped it in plastic wrap, it is also important to let the dough rest (~30 min.). I think this is where the waitress’ statement may not be as true. I totally agree that you should take time when you make decisions, but if take too much time more often you won’t get to have a choice anymore. For me, it takes about 30 min to take out the dough from the fridge because if you don’t it will be harder to roll out with the rolling pin later on. The same thing when you’ve made some decision. The longer you wait to administer it the harder it will become to make. It may even lead you back to that overworked/overthinking stage because you’re second-guessing what you’ve decided upon. I happen to be notorious for having second thoughts so learn from my flaw and just go with it. Generally, there’s no perfect time to do something you just have to hope that it goes well when you are already doing it.
Here’s what I forgot to mention earlier, when you make dough, sometimes you don’t follow the exact measurements in the recipe. You look at the consistency and firmness of the dough then add a little bit more of flour or water or butter so that you get the dough you want. The recipe like those information are guidelines. We’re not experiencing the same situations so you have to put the decision you make in context to your situation. This seems fairly logical but another part of it is also using your instincts. Sometimes you decide something because it just feels right. It doesn’t have to make sense at the time and maybe it won’t later, you just know you had to make that choice. I also want to say that, that doesn’t mean that you care any less it just means that there are some things logic doesn’t dominate.
At this point, you’ve rolled out the dough, placed it on the tin and even bake it for a few minutes before adding in the filling and the top crust. You’re finally ready to bake the pie with all of its components. The oven’s temperature is low so you bake the pie slowly. Sometimes if you don’t the dough isn’t cooked all the way through with the filling; it’s not flaky. It’s kinda hard and raw. It’s premature. You need to take your time and forget about the pie for a while until the timer rings. You’ve made your decision and now you need to take time and see how it plays out. Hopefully what you’ll end up with a golden crust pie with an equally awesome filling. But even if it doesn’t turn out the way you wanted it to, maybe it just takes a little bit more time or the very least you have an idea of how to make pie. You never know, it may taste better than you think.
Here’s my recipe for my Strawberry-banana pie!
1 ¼ cup all-purpose flour
2 tbsp. cold water
¾ cup chilled unsalted butter
salt, white sugar, ground nutmeg a pinch each
1 ½ cup sliced strawberries
1-2 bananas (depending on the size)
2-2 ½ tbps. Sugar
1 tbsp. butter
pinch of salt
1 tbps. lemon juice
2 tsp. flour
- In a bowl sift the all-purpose flour
- Add the salt, sugar, and ground nutmeg in the bowl
- Dice the chilled unsalted butter then add it into the bowl with the flour mixture
- Break up the dices of butter and add the a tablespoon of cold water one at a time
- Using your dominant hand combine the ingredients together.
- Be careful of kneading the dough. Try not to knead it too much (use the bottom part of your palm to knead the dough and your fingers to gather lose parts
- Once the dough is kneaded form the dough in a flat ball then wrap in plastic wrap
- Chill the dough for ~30 minutes at the refrigerator.
- While the dough is chilling, wash then slice the strawberries and bananas
- Using a saucepan take the sliced strawberries and butter.
- Cook in medium heat and wait until the butter has melted. The strawberries will start to release juices.
- Add the lemon juice, sugar and salt into the pan
- Stir the strawberry mixture around.
- Cook until the strawberries released enough juice yet still retained some strawberry shape resemblance (quite vague I know; the cooking process shouldn’t take more than 10-13 minutes)
- Add in the flour before turning off the stove. The mixture should thicken slightly, not too thin or thick. If you want a more viscous/thicker filling you can add more strawberries and cook it for less or add more flour into the mixture while cooking it.
- Take the saucepan with the strawberry filling aside and let it cool down.
- While waiting for the strawberry filling to cool down, take some butter and spread it around the tin/mold you want to bake the pie in.
- Dust a little flour on the tin. You may also use parchment paper instead.
- Take out the dough once its chilled and roll it out in a flour dusted flat surface.
- Dust your rolling pin and roll out the dough.
- Roll out the dough up to ¼ of an inch (you can roll out thicker if you want that’s just a preference).
- In a preheated oven at 385 degrees Fahrenheit, bake the bottom pie crust for 8-10 minutes (puncture some air holes on the dough using a fork; not too much).
- Take out the crust and let it cool for a couple of minutes before pouring the filling.
- Once the pre-cooked crust has cooled down a little, place the raw bananas at the bottom of the piecrust then pour in the strawberry filling.
- I decided to use a basket weave top but you may just cover the top with a whole piece of dough.
- I also decided to go with an egg wash after I topped my pies, then sprinkled some sugar on top.
- Bake in the same temperature for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown.
- Let the pies cool down before diving in for a bite!
- You can have some whipped cream or ice cream to garnish the dish, or go with a dusting of sifted icing sugar.