On Patience and Pie Crust

Always been like a hummingbird, and I can’t sit still,

listen up lover, listen up, I never will

{The Weepies, Hummingbird}

I don’t like to sit still. I’ve never been good at it, physically or mentally. I’ve always been 6 steps ahead. Actually, not even necessarily ahead as much as away. 6 steps AWAY from where I am right now is where I want to be.

Call it impatience. Call it immaturity? Call it discontent. I don’t know what it is, but I’ve had it as long as I can remember.

This persistent attitude has followed me everywhere … school, relationships, work. Why can’t everything be perfect NOW? Of course, the problem with that question is the nagging little word “perfect,” because nothing in this life will reach that lofty goal. But we all know my little problem with perfectionism, so today I’ll focus on an unfortunate offshoot of that obsession: patience.

I’m learning that the one place patience MUST rule is the kitchen. I’m especially not very good at that, because I can see/taste/smell in my mind what the end result is going to be, and I just want to be there NOW. And even more than just finishing that dish, I want it set in front of the people I love, for them to “ooh” and “ahh” and let it fill their stomachs and spirits to the brim, which is ultimately my favorite part of food. But it doesn’t work that way, and I praise the Good Lord that it doesn’t, because I’ve never learned the lesson of patience and process as well as I have had in my sweet little green kitchen.

So many things test my patience, and I used to be one for shortcuts. Premade pie crust. Grocery-store bread. Bottled dressing and cardboard cans of icing. Now these things make me sad, but there are times I am tempted to go back. Especially with that first one … pie crust.

I wanted a pie pan so badly after we got married. I had registered for one that never came, much to my disappointment. Everywhere I turned, pie recipes lept off the page and taunted me with their flaky crust and bubbly filling. Forced patience – 1, Melanie – 0. I waited months, until mine finally went on sale. It’s lovely:

The first thing I learned with my pretty little pie pan was that pretty pie pans do not flaky crusts automatically make. My first attempt was decent, but was full of shortening and the subsequent trans fats that it brings. I wanted a pie crust with no shortening, lots of butter, and the flaky crust of my dreams. Forced patience – 2, Melanie – 0.

I’ve been trying for months, and most of my attempts at pie crust end edibly (which is good), but usually after borderline curses and a few tears, as well as threats to hit any-and-everything within the reach of my rolling pin. Rolling pie crust on a countertop smaller than the necessary size is hardly ever a successful venture, but such are the difficulties of tiny-condo-living. One day, I will have a giant kitchen with more than enough space to roll a pie crust … hmmm. Forced patience – 3, Melanie – 0.

So this weekend, I hosted an engagement party for friends Tim & Sarah and when faced with countless dessert options, I chose double shot mocha cupcakes and peach bourbon hand pies. Aren’t those little hand pies adorable?

More than cute bourbon-y goodness, though, these hand pies brought with them the best pie crust I could ever hope to make. Buttery. Flaky. Simple. The crust just melts in your mouth. It’s divine, and I may be set for life.

This recipe helped me to conquer (or work-on-conquering) my kitchen-patience issues (I’m still pretty hopeless in real life), as it takes no less than THREE HOURS for the crust.

That’s right. THREE HOURS.

And you know what? Perfectly worth it.

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. salt
16 tablespoons (2 sticks, 8 ounces) unsalted butter, cut into
1/2 cup sour cream
4 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup ice water

It’s pretty simple: dice butter and freeze for an hour. At the same time, freeze flour/salt mixture.

After one hour, cut butter into flour/salt mixture. (Note: I will be purchasing a butter-cutter-in-er tool very soon. A potato masher is not a sufficient equivalent.)

Add sour cream, lemon juice, water. Chill for another hour.

After hour 2, remove and roll to 1/8 inch thickness. Use a 4-4.5 inch biscuit cutter to cut circles. Chill those for another 1/2 hour.

Remove, fill with filling of choice, and back into the fridge for another 1/2 hour. If the butter starts to warm up at all, the flakiness will decrease. And that’s just pie crust tragedy.

Egg wash and sugar sprinkle, and into the oven at 375 for 20 minutes.

It will come out so lovely, you don’t even know … but you should, if you have the time (and patience!) to try it. I wish I had pictures, but the engagement-party-prep was so intense and crazy that I didn’t take any. Price does have a winner of me frying potato chips at midnight wearing my sunglasses in case oil splattered, though. Unfortunately, frying potato chips takes a really long time and a lack of that time (and an issue with sogginess … sogg? soggyness?) prevented them from appearing at the party.

Anyway, I can’t wait to make a whole pie with this crust! And since there is also leftover peachy bourbon filling in the freezer, I think I know what kind it will be …

“I can’t wait,” another one of those lack-of-patience expressions. Oh well. Forced patience – 4, Melanie – 1. (I’m totally giving myself those hand pies.)


2 thoughts on “On Patience and Pie Crust

  1. I have a problem with patience as well, which Mark pointed out probably 3 or 4 times just yesterday! I’ve never quite been able to make myself spend 3 hours on a pie crust, but have also never found one with no shortening…. Maybe I’ll give this one a try.

  2. Also!!! I just clicked on your link for the pies, and lo and behold – Smitten Kitchen!! I love love love that blog…

    Were you and I separated at birth or something?

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