The history of this pie is a bit mysterious and silly. Some say that the pie itself is so simple that when asked what kind of pie is baking, the bakers response was, “It’s just pie.” This, when sped up and slurred by lazy-tongued bakers, starts to sound like “jess pie” or “chess pie.” Whatever.
Another tale points out that the pie’s curdy texture is similar to cheese, and lazy-spelling bakers left out some “e’s”, forever labeling the pie as “chess.”
Neither explanation shines a very favorable light on the bakers in question.
I told you it was silly.
Silly but delicious. This pie is a perfect for beginners, because it is very hard to screw up, and easy to embellish. Add fruits, nuts, chocolate chips, or spices to add your personal touch. Or, just keep it as is … au naturelle.
So … once you have mastered pie dough, try this pie on for size.
1/2 recipe Pie Dough, or Pâte Sucreé
2/3 cup sugar
2 TB. cornmeal
1/2 cup cream
Zest and juice of 1 lemon
1 TB. vanilla extract
4 oz. (1 stick) butter, melted
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My favorite part of pie is the crimped crust edge. If it’s formed and baked right, it’s like a crisp, buttery cookie. If not, it’s a sad lump of undercooked dough. Most problems arise because the dough is too thick, and not chilled adequately before baking.
To crimp the edge of a single crust pie shell, start by trimming the dough an inch from the edge of the pan. Scissors make this job a snap. Roll the edge of the dough under itself all the way around, then pinch it tightly, until it is the thickness of a single layer of dough. The fluted edge and be achieved by pinching with two fingers from the outer edge while simultaneously pressing in with one finger from the inner edge. The edge can also be pressed with a fork or spoon, or with decorative fluting tools.
Crimping a double crust is done the same way, but the two crusts must be trimmed, folded and crimped together. Care should be taken here to press the two doughs together as thin as possible. If the rim is more than 1/4-inch thick, the center will be raw and doughy.
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