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Kitchen Mailbox: Never Fail Crusts inspire chiffon pie dreams

Thursday, February 10, 2000

By Arlene Burnett, Post-Gazette Staff Writer

A request for a popular goof-proof pie crust has been answered and answered and answered ... Thirty readers sent us their recipes (ingredients were the same but the amounts varied) for Never Fail Pie Crust, or Foolproof Pie Crust.

One thing we found out is that once you find a pie crust that works for you, you stick with it. Our readers can attest to that -- here are some of their comments:

Mary Lou Westwood of Crafton and Anna K. Shandor of Library sent us their original copies of this recipe, which ran in The Pittsburgh Press years ago.

Charlene Stewart of Franklin Park sent us her mother's recipe: "This is my mother's recipe, used for hundreds of pies since the late '50s."

Mary Ellen Dudick of Verona says, "This pastry makes a nice, flaky crust. I hope it helps your readers who are afraid to make pie crust."

Rose Ann Miller of Carnegie says this pie crust is "foolproof"; if you make a mistake rolling it out, just gather the dough and roll again without it becoming tough.

A word of warning: Don't make the mistake we made by making this dough in a food processor. While other recipes for pie dough worked well in a food processor, this one didn't. We tried again, made the dough by hand, and the results were much better.

Since we were testing pie crust, we thought now would be the time to test Lemon Chiffon Pie. This pie calls for raw egg whites and, as we've said before, the Allegheny County Health Department recommends not consuming raw eggs. So we used dry egg whites, which can be found in the baking section of any large grocery store. Look for the 3-ounce can labeled Just Whites, Pasteurized All Natural Egg Whites. Follow the directions on the container. If you use the powdered egg whites, you'll have seven real egg whites left over. What to do with them? One idea is to freeze them -- they can be frozen for up to six months. One easy way is to place each egg white in a section of an ice cube tray and freeze. When the whites are frozen, pop them from the tray and place each in a freezer bag. Egg whites, tightly wrapped, can be stored in the refrigerator for up to four days.

The Lemon Chiffon Pie, which is much like a lemon meringue pie, turned out billowy and perfectly tangy.

Many of you have probably heard of buckwheat or buckwheat flour. But did you know that buckwheat is not a cereal like wheat or oats? It's an herb. And it's the seeds of this herb that are used to make the buckwheat flour in these Buckwheat Cakes. They are essentially a pancake -- the only difference is that buckwheat cakes are darker in color (buckwheat flour is light brown) and have a mild nutty flavor.

Buckwheat is native to Russia, and in Russia and Ukraine Buckwheat Cakes are known as "blini." Blini is the traditional bread served with caviar and smoked fish and popular during Maslenitas (butter festival), the week preceding Lent. We ate them for breakfast with warm maple syrup and butter -- yum!

Source: "Food Lover's Companion," by Sharon Tyler Herbst and "The All New Joy of Cooking," by Irma S. Rombauer, Marion Rombauer Becker and Ethan Becker.

Never-Fail Pie Crust was requested by Pat Ames of Harmar. This recipe appeared in The Pittsburgh Press in 1991.

Never-Fail Pie Crust

Makes 4 or 5 9-inch pie crusts.

4 to 41/2 cups flour
1 tablespoon sugar
2 teaspoons salt
13/4 cups shortening
1 tablespoon vinegar, white or cider
1 large egg
1/2 cup ice water

Mix sugar, flour, salt; add shortening, mix until crumbly.

In small bowl, beat water, vinegar and egg. Sprinkle egg mixture over flour-shortening mixture; mix until just until combined. Divide into 4 or 5 portions. Flatten into disk shape, wrap and chill 1/2 hour.

This pie crust will keep wrapped in the refrigerator for up to 3 days, or may be individually frozen.

Mary E. Creighton of Rosslyn Heights requested a recipe for Lemon Chiffon Pie topped with real whipped cream. Here's a recipe sent in by Marie Hamilton of Ben Avon.

Lemon Chiffon Pie

1 9-inch baked pie shell
1 package of unflavored gelatin, dissolved in 1 cup water
7 eggs, separated
1 cup sugar
Juice and rind of 2 lemons
1 cup confectioners' sugar

Dissolve unflavored gelatin in water and set aside.

Cook egg yolks, sugar, juice and rind in double boiler until creamy (about 7 minutes).

Add gelatin and cool completely.

Beat egg whites or powdered egg whites until stiff, add powdered sugar and fold into lemon mixture. Pour into pie shell. Refrigerate until set and top with whipped cream.

Here are a few hints for making perfect whipped cream: Check the percentage of butterfat on the whipping cream carton. Cream must have at least a 30 percent butterfat content in order for it to whip properly and hold its shape.

Cartons that are labeled heavy cream are the same as cartons marked whipping cream (we used heavy cream).

The cream, as well as the bowl and beaters, should be cold. To get the best results, place the bowl and beaters in the refrigerator. In hot weather, they can be placed in the freezer for about 5 minutes.

Whipped Cream

1 cup cold heavy whipping cream
Any one of these optional ingredients may be added:
2 teaspoons to 2 tablespoons sugar
1 to 4 tablespoons sifted powdered sugar
2 teaspoons honey
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

If you are using a heavy-duty mixer, set it on medium speed, high for a hand-held mixer. Beat the cream until it begins to thicken; add optional ingredients at this point. Continue to beat until soft peaks form. Use immediately.

If the whipped cream is to be refrigerated until later, you should underwhip the cream (stop before it gets to the stiff and billowy stage). When ready to use, whip to desired consistency.

Source: "The All New Joy of Cooking," by Irma S. Rombauer, Marion Rombauer Becker and Ethan Becker.

A recipe for raised Buckwheat Cakes was requested by Raymond E. Wilson of Lakewood, Colo. Helen Lamison of Carnegie sent a recipe for Cape Cod Buckwheat Cakes. We changed this recipe slightly.

Buckwheat Cakes

2 cups milk
1 package dry yeast
11/4 cups buckwheat flour
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon molasses
1/2 teaspoon baking soda, dissolved in 1/4 cup warm water
1 egg

Scald the milk, remove from heat and cool milk to about 105 degrees. Add yeast and stir until dissolved. Add buckwheat, all-purpose flour and salt; stir to make a smooth batter.

Cover the batter with a clean cloth and place in refrigerator overnight.

In the morning, stir in the molasses, baking soda and egg. Let batter sit for 30 minutes at room temperature.

Pour batter on greased griddle and cook until bubbles appear on pancake; turn and cook the other side.

Serve with butter and maple syrup.

Yield: about 18 21/2 -inch pancakes.


Irene Dassonville of Verona hopes someone will have the recipe for Polish fattigmans or bowties. This is a fried doughnut-like pastry that is dark brown.

Dick Kraft of Bethel Park would like the recipe for Boston Market's cole slaw, or a similar recipe.

Amy Klarer of Bethel Park would like the recipe for a dish made with black beans, rice, salsa, chicken and chicken broth and corn.

Kevin Kelly of Mt. Lebanon writes: "When I was a kid my father used to bring home wonderful cake cookies from the McIntosh Bakery, Downtown. I always liked the ones with the cherry filling. I've never found anything close to these biscuits." If anyone has this recipe or a similar recipe please send it in.

Does anyone have a recipe for buttercream icing, similar to the icing used at Munches Bakery on the South Side? Joann Fielder of Plant City, Fla., would like to duplicate it.

If you want to answer a recipe request from a reader or are looking for a recipe yourself, please write to Kitchen Mailbox, c/o Arlene Burnett, 34 Blvd. of the Allies, Pittsburgh 15222, or e-mail to aburnett@post-gazette.com. Please include a name, neighborhood and a daytime phone number on all correspondence. All recipes are kitchen-tested by the Post-Gazette.

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