We're celebrating #TBT with a series on our favorite vintage cookbooks. Tune in every week for great cooking tips, historical oddities and maybe a little casual misogyny.
“Remember that pies please men,” admonishes the 1965 Farm Journal’s Complete Pie Cookbook. I love this book in spite of its gender issues. I love its deadly serious approach to pie. (“Don’t despair if you tear the pastry. But do avoid a repeat of the mishap.”) I love its 700 tested pie recipes, each one of them a mini time machine.
There are “nervous pies” (quivering custard). There’s Ohio Cheese Pie (“Prediction: This is the best cheese pie you have ever made or tasted.”), Merry Christmas Pie (“A favorite holiday pie of many women”) and Apple-Cranberry Pie. (“Men praise this two-fruit pie.”)
Farm Journal still exists, a media company out of Webster City, Iowa, but it no longer publishes cookbooks. Feature stories in the most recent issue include a report on mapping crop genomes and a story on algae as an alternative protein for livestock. But throughout the mid-20th century, the Farm Journal test kitchen gathered recipes from country kitchens across the United States and published the best. As small farming communities disappeared, this kind of cooking did too. I got my copy from my aunt, who salvaged it from my grandmother, a farmwoman from Summerfield, Kansas.
But pie is forever. Here are five enduring pie crust tips from Farm Journal’s Complete Pie Cookbook.
1. Add water to the flour-fat mixture slowly and evenly.
To make this easier, put the ice water into a saltshaker. Then you can sprinkle it over the flour mixture.
2. Roll it right.
As you roll the pastry dough out to a circle, lift the rolling pin as you approach the edge, to avoid rolling the dough too thin, or having it crack.
3. Don’t stretch the dough.
Lift the rolled-out dough into the pie pan gently (“as carefully as you would handle a full-blown rose”) and avoid stretching it. If you stretch the pastry, it will shrink as it cooks.
4. Use a glass pie pan.
For the best crust, use glass pie pans, because shiny metal pans reflect heat and interfere with browning. Plus, with glass, you can check the browning on the bottom.
5. Make it pretty.
Decorate your pie with painted cutouts: Cut leftover pie dough into shapes with a cookie cutter. Mix a few drops of food coloring with an egg yolk, and then brush the cutouts with the paint. Bake the cutouts separately from the pie (they will cook faster) and then arrange them over the top of the baked pie.