The Great White Whale//Fat Bottomed Girls//Pie.
At some point in my friendship with Hayley, she did one of those Facebook posts where you comment and she tells you a song that makes her think of you and this is what she chose for me:
Now, I can understand how someone might be offended to be offered this song as their anthem, but in this particular case, it came from a place of deep understanding. It is only one small clue into the ways a particular friend just kind of looks at you and truly sees you, without judgement. The kind of friend who sees you for who you really are and not only accepts you but also says, "HELL YES YOU GORGEOUS GODDESS!" That is basically Hayley in summary.
Not only does she see her friends and love them fiercely, she is, herself, a goddamn goddess. She is the magic nose and hands behind Paintbox Soapworks. If you have no idea what I am talking about, she makes the most lovely smelling and funs telling soaps and scrubs around. She is thoughtful and deliberate and inspires me to utilize my creative side.
Like any good friend, she also totally calls me on my bullshit. As a former pastry chef, Hayley just could not allow me to continue to waltz through life claiming to be a baker but terrified of making homemade pie crust. She called me out on it and then offered to spend her whole entire day listening to me yammer on and almost cry in frustration in order to teach me how to make delicious pie. DELICIOUS PIE.
Why is pie so hard for me? It is very very very easy to mess up. There are at least 40 different dumb things a person can do before they even roll out the dough. The butter, the liquid and holy shit goddamn it GLUTEN DEVELOPMENT. Pie demands a delicate and even and patient touch. None of those things are descriptions of me. I am more like the Kool Aid Man. There is a wall or obstacle? BUST RIGHT THROUGH. OH YEAH!
Thankfully, Hayley is an excellent teacher. She is also a pastry magician. We even rolled out the dough together like in the movie Ghost and let's just say, I am better for it.
We made three different pies. Hot water pie crust for a deep dish quiche, sugar pie dough for the strawberry-almond tart and traditional crust for the strawberry, apple, rhubarb pie. They are all delicious.
I learned that good cooking can be instinctual but it is important that the cook let the ingredients and tools do their work. Too much direction and tinkering will spoil it. Oh god. Is this a life lesson, too? OH GOD.
Hayley, thank you for spending your day with me. It was so much fun to bask in your light and laugh with you. I am so lucky that you count me among your friends and adore you. Thanks for calling me on bullshit and for being an excellent baker and teacher.
Now, you get to make some pie. You know, if you are into that kind of thing.
Hayley's Strawberry-Almond Tart
1.25 cups all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup white sugar
1 stick chilled unsalted butter
1-2 tablespoons milk
1 egg yolk
- Combine flour, salt and sugar in a mixing bowl. Cut butter into small slices and toss in the flour until coated. Use fingers to smooth butter pieces into small pieces. Using thumbs, rub butter into flat flakes. continue until flour is mealy and butter is pea-sized.
- Add egg yolk and small amount of milk and lightly mix with hands until combined. do not over mix. Use hands to gather dough into a ball, press into medium sized disc, let rest in fridge.
- Once dough has rested about 30 minutes, roll out to desired thickness. Go slowly. Line tart pan, roll in and trim edges.
- Place in fridge to chill while mixing filling.
4 oz soft butter
4 oz almond paste
4 oz marzipan
1/2 ground almond meal
2 large egg
1/2 all purpose flour
- Cream together butter, paste and marzipan until light and fluffy.
- Add one egg at a time until combined.
- Scrape the bowl.
- Add almond meal and flour until combined.
- Add filling to chilled tart dough.
- Top with hulled and halved strawberries with an inch or so between.
- Bake at 400 until the edges just started to brown, about 20 minutes, then 350 til lightly puffed and golden, maybe another 20 at most.