Thrifty/nifty hints for holiday baking and beyond

pie crust

Build up the edge of the pie crust to help keep the uncooked filling (pecan pie here) from spilling as you maneuver it into the oven. Photo by Laura Groch

We’re coming up on prime holiday cooking season, so I wanted to share a couple of thrifty-nifty hints today.

• The first one is about baking, and more specifically, pie crusts. I have made my share of pies, and while they usually turn out pretty well, getting custard-type pies, like, well, custard, or pumpkin, or pecan into the oven without spilling the filling can be a bit fraught.

It dawned on me one day that things didn’t have to be that precarious. I’m not a huge fan of pie crust anyway — IMHO, it’s an edible vehicle that happens to hold the delicious insides.

Pie crust

Build up the edge of your piecrust to keep the filling from spilling as you move it into the oven. It can still be decorative. Photo by Laura Groch

So as I was shaping the edges of a pie crust, it occurred to me that instead of stretching the dough to the edge of the dish and then folding it over — why not create a barrier instead? A great pie wall, if you will. I pulled and pinched the crust upward — vertically — instead of horizontally. Voila! no more worries about pie spillage. It’s still a good idea to cover this raised edge with foil to keep it from browning prematurely.

• The second hint came from making the pie crust, but it applies to other baking recipes. And this might be something you already have come up with on your own. It has to do with when a recipe calls for a small amount of milk. Most of us, I think, will grab our tablespoons, grab the milk container, and try to pour the milk into the spoon without losing a drop. (And some of us are dexterous enough to succeed. Not I.) While trying to wrestle a gallon container into position over my tablespoon (over the sink, yes), I realized — why not just pour some milk into a cup, then spoon out what I needed from that? Much more stable and easier to handle. Pour the rest back into the milk jug or just drink it up as a reward.

• And last, a tiny timesaver re the microwave. We didn’t realize for quite a while that the clear plastic over our new microwave’s keypad was removable. But I noticed that the “0” button got the most use, because the protective plastic sheet started to wear there. (We then saw that we could just remove the sheet without consequence. O brave new world!)

But I started to think — why be such a slave to precision? Isn’t it easier, and faster, instead of hunting for the zero, or even the “5,” to just double-punch the first digit of what you’re aiming for? I mean, how big a difference is it going to make for you to hit “11” or “22” or “33” where you used to search around for “1” and “0” or “2” and “5” or “3” and “0”? Yes, I know, sometimes you really need that precision. But most of the time — not. It saves me just a few seconds (hey, I said it was a tiny timesaver), and it beats fumbling around when I’m in a rush.

Comments, suggestions, shares? Go for it. And thanks for reading.

(c) copyright 2016 Laura Groch

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3 thoughts on “Thrifty/nifty hints for holiday baking and beyond

  1. Hello Laura, I’m excited because I found a pretty decent gluten-free pie crust at Frazier Farms – and for only about $3.50. (Others have cost as much as $9.) no problem with the bottom crust, but getting the top crust flipped and out of the pan was difficult. Not to worry…I added a bit of gluten-free flower, re-mixed it into a ball, rolled it out and cut strips. It wasn’t the prettiest pie, but it wasn’t all that bad either. And it tasted pretty close to the real thing. This crust was used for an apple pie, which I haven’t had for about 10 years. Enjoyed every bite. Happy Thanksgiving.

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