What the Crust? The Pie’s the Limit! — Experiments In the Kitchen

Most people bake a lot before the holidays. Not me. I never have any company so other than helping my mother with her pie crusts, I don’t usually give it much thought. But this year, the week before Christmas, we realised we’d miscalculated how many of our fresh farm eggs to save. We knew we should use them up by the end of the year, so I decided to make quiches. My brother threw in the rest of his eggs so I had enough, I figured, to make twelve pies.

Spinach and Mushroom Cheese Quiche
Spinach-mushroom quiche

Well, it was a long process, given the number of times I had to run back to the store for flour, shortening, pop (more on why I needed pop later), sugar, and veggies, and the fact I forgot I keep my rolling pin at my mother’s house. Finally, everything assembled, I got crackin’. Literally.

I’ve been making quiche forever so I wasn’t about to follow a recipe. I just multiplied what I usually do. After 72 cracks, I half-filled a large pot with eggs (no mixing bowl under my roof would do). Twelve cups of milk and some salt and pepper later, and my pot was full. Ok… So I took out another bowl for the twelve cups of grated cheese I would add afterwards.

I’d had a bit of a hard time with my mother’s pie crusts this year, but it was better than the last few so I was disappointed when my mom told me that the taste was too floury. My grandmother advised I try her recipe, so now, faced with a cauldron full of eggy milk slop, I got ready for a fight but was beyond ecstatic to see the recipe work so well!

The trick, says my grandmother, is to use less flour than the recipe on the box of shortening requires. Since it called for six cups of flour, I only used five (organic, unbleached, by the way, which may have affected the colour a bit).

The secret ingredient comes after the flour is cut into the shortening (no need for salt with this recipe). Once the cut shortening and flour looks crumby, pour a can of ginger ale or club soda into the bowl. Without playing with the dough too much, use your hands to make sure all the flour is absorbed into the liquid. Take the dough and place it onto a floured countertop, still manipulating it as little as possible. Flip the dough over then transfer it to a plate. Use the shortening wrapper to cover the plate and put it in the fridge for an hour (it can be kept in the fridge overnight).

I made two batches since a regular recipe normally yields six single pie crusts, and I needed twelve. While I waited for the dough to cool, I cooked the veggies and readied my prep station, taking out a small bowl in which to mix the veggies, cheese, and egg mixture individually for each quiche.

Spinach Carrot Cheese Quiche
Spinach-carrot quiche: My last remaining pie plate was sadly misshapen!

The hour up, I took out the first batch of dough and remembered my grandmother’s warning to use a knife to cut off only what I would need at a time. After rolling about three or four shells, it dawned on me I would get the entire twelve crusts I needed from one batch! What to do with the other twelve crusts?

Twelve spinach-mushroom quiches later, I was a tad less worried and way more tired, but I still had egg mixture left. Ugh. So I chopped more veggies and grated more cheese, and voilà, three spinach-carrot quiches. Bed time.

Double-Crusted Meat Pie
Meat pie

The next day, I cooked some of my parents’ home grown ground beef with some moose meat, rolled out six more pie shells, and made three meat pies. I used some leftover dough to make pètes de sœurs, and that’s when I found we only had organic cane sugar, which we use in our kombucha tea, but no brown sugar on hand. I rolled with it and later called my mother to arrange a care package delivery the next day, then went online to figure out what else I could make.

Yellow Squash Pie
Yellow squash pie

A recipe for yellow squash pie caught my eye. Though slightly eggy, it’s not quiche. Of course, I modified the recipe to suit my pantry and my tastes. I then came up with a veggie pie with mashed potato and beet top crust, inspired from a beloved favourite, mozzarella meatloaf pie.

The combination may seem strange, but it’s delicious! I boiled the potatoes first and only added the beet towards the end (one beet for a batch of potatoes large enough to cover your pie plate). Once fully cooked, I drained and mashed the potatoes and beets as usual, with milk, butter, and salt and pepper. In a frying pan with olive oil, I cooked spinach, mushrooms, onions, garlic, green peppers, and carrots. I added this to a bowl of diced tomato and mixed in one cup of grated cheese. I poured the veggie mixture over a pie crust, spread the mashed potatoes and beets over top to make a crust, and baked.

Jam cookies, a few of them with some bright red filling oozing out onto the baking sheet.
Jam cookies

Sick of savoury pies because of the hassle, but with some dough yet to roll, I decided to make a blueberry pie from our frozen stock of wild-picked berries, then a sugar pie and mini sugar pies to boot. Finally reaching the end of the dough, I made jam cookies and pètes de sœurs, as well as a few alternatives, some inspired by a post at ChowHound: apple-cinnamon-walnut (made with apples we picked on Manitoulin Island and dried in our Nesco American Harvest Dehydrator), peanut butter and jam, and jam and cacao powder. I wanted to add raisins to the jam/cacao version, but couldn’t find any. I must have used the rest the last time I made granola bars…

Blueberry Pie With Lattice Top Crust
Blueberry pie

So now we’ve got a ton of food to last us through the winter, but of course we don’t have a spare freezer in our apartment so a shipment’s already gone over to my parents’ place, the last to be sent tomorrow.

Pètes de Soeurs rolls sliced and arranged on a baking sheet.
Pètes de sœurs

Marc says he thinks it’s smarter to do the baking after the holidays. Now we’re set, not stuffed (winky face).


For more awesome savoury pie recipes, check out the baking section.