A Baker’s Dozen: Passionate About My Pie Crusts

by Dianne Boate

It is good to have strong opinions, but best to have the experience that laid the foundation for them before running off with arms flying in the air to express your ideas. I do have that expressive tendency, but also have the experience. All due respect to pastry people everywhere, but my choices stay away from butter-cream cheese-lard-shortening combinations, sticking to Parisian Pastry that you can start and finish in 30 minutes; Oil Pastry (an old standby); and Shaker Pastry developed by the religious sect, using egg and vinegar—magic ingredients. In order to do justice to the recipes, I’m starting with the Parisian piecrust.

BakersDozen1A few years ago, food expert and intrepid food writer Marlena Spieler discussed a new pastry in her San Francisco Chronicle column. She’d enrolled in a special class in Paris that provided the recipe:

The Sweet Caillat Crust

Makes one 9-inch single layer tart crust

  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 3 tablespoons water
  • Pinch salt
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 4 tablespoons sugar

Instructions: Preheat oven to 400°. Place the butter, oil, water and salt in a small saucepan and heat on high just until the butter melts and bubbles form around the edge; a slight browning will result in a slightly nutty flavor, which is delicious.

BakersDozen2You can also heat the mixture in a microwave. Set aside for a few minutes to cool.

BakersDozen3With an electric mixer or wooden spoon, add 1 cup of the flour and all the sugar to the butter mixture; beat together, slowly adding more flour until the mixture forms a ball, then add more flour until the mixture doesn’t stick to the sides of bowl or pan.

BakersDozen4Turn dough out into a 9-inch pie pan or tart pan with a removable bottom, and press it into an even layer over the bottom and sides. (Using a metal measuring cup helps.)

BakersDozen5To bake completely, bake for 10-15 minutes, or until crust is golden; watch the edges so that they do not burn.

BakersDozen6Remove from oven and cool, then fill as desired.

BakersDozen7Here is the pie shell being filled with lemon curd and sliced bananas. You can whip up an instant vanilla or chocolate pudding that will go nicely with the bananas (or make one from scratch if so inclined). Easier still is sliced fruit topped with ice cream. No end to the ideas!

BakersDozen8

And speaking of bananas, here is a dandy dish made with diet raspberry Jell-O and sliced bananas that is easy on the waistline, the budget and your time. For this effect use about 3 packages of Jell-O (and specified amount of water) and about 6-8 bananas, adding the Jell-O in 2 cup increments with slices, letting it thicken in the refrigerator each time.


A Short Pie Story

When I lived in Beverly Glen Canyon in the Los Angeles area during the time of all of the challah baking previously chronicled here, I became fascinated with the recipe on the Ritz Cracker box for Mock Apple Pie, an ingenious invention during the Depression that gained more popularity during World War II, a period of apple shortages. It was simple enough, with crackers, lemon juice, vanilla and cinnamon, and a double pie crust. In those days I was still making an Oil Pastry, something you can hardly find in modern cookbooks today. (More on this coming soon.) One winter day I set out to make the pie. When it was in the oven, I looked over the recipe again and discovered I had forgotten to add a required amount of water. Not to worry—I popped open the oven, grabbed a gin bottle and doused the pie liberally with gin, and back into the oven it went. It was an amazing pie; all these years I keep thinking I will do it again … Mock Apple Pie recipe is readily available on the Internet; sometimes you will find it on the Ritz Cracker box. It is a worthy recipe.


Dianne Boate, a former staff member of the original Dating Game television show, and later, The Renaissance Pleasure Faire, is The Hat Lady, maker of custom millinery, and The Cake Lady, a special events baker for 30 years in the Bay Area. Between cake assignments she has had several one-woman photography shows, and participated as a botanical illustrator in group shows benefiting the Conservatory of Flowers, National AIDS Memorial Grove, Marin Cancer Institute, and University of California Alumni Association. Her website can be found at www.boatecollection.com.

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