This morning, I was thinking about food–as usual–and a question came to mind: What was Martin Luther King Jr.’s favorite dish? Apparently, it was pecan pie. Oddly, I’d never thought to ask the question in years past, but other bloggers have, and paid tribute accordingly.
But no one has taken King’s appreciation for the pastry as far as Peace Through Pie, a Texas-based movement that wants to start a pie-sharing tradition on MLK Day to promote, well, peace and understanding. Now that’s a cause I can get behind.
I admit that I didn’t know that Martin Luther King Jr., pie and peace were somehow all connected when I decided to try baking a pie this weekend. Personally, I’m not a huge fan of pie-making, only because whenever I make a crust, it never turns out right–it’s usually mushy, and/or too dense. Whoever came up with the phrase “easy as pie” either lied or didn’t know how to make a proper pie.
Over the holidays, I picked up a copy of Flour: Spectacular Recipes From Boston’s Flour Bakery + Cafe by acclaimed pastry chef Joanne Chang, whose bakery has reached legendary status among Bostonians. (Her sticky buns were catapulted into the national spotlight on Throwdown with Bobby Flay. Flay ultimately said that Flour’s sticky buns were the best thing he ever ate.)
While flipping through the pages before bed–yes, I read cookbooks in bed before I turn out the light–I saw a recipe for a Two-Apple Pie, and an accompanying photo of a delectable latticed pie, packed to the brim with apple slices. It was irresistible, and it had to be mine.
The recipe called for Granny Smith and Rome apples, thinly sliced and macerated in sugar, flour and cinnamon, as well as a batch of pâte brisée. I soon discovered that the one thing I’ve been doing wrong in all my years of baking was not making this stuff before. What makes pâte brisée special is the French fraisage technique, which creates layers of flaky, buttery goodness within the dough. To achieve pie crust nirvana, you have to smear the butter into the dough, like so:
Anyway, I won’t go into great detail about the recipe, as there were many steps involved. The whole process became a whole-day affair, because it required making and refrigerating the pâte brisée, chilling and blind-baking the crust, macerating the apples, making the lattice, then cooking and cooling the whole pie.
But I’m happy to report that Chang didn’t let me down–her Two-Apple Pie recipe was a winner. One bite, and I knew: This was a pie I’m going to share with people for probably the rest of my life. Hands down, the best pie I’ve ever made! (Although, not the prettiest, I must say. Please forgive the slightly toasty crust and apples.)
So there you have it. My inadvertent contribution to the Peace Through Pies movement. Thanks to Martin Luther King Jr. for leading the fight for civil rights–and for inspiring more people to eat and share more pie.