My grandma is a legendary pie crust maker. She knows her way around a canister of Crisco like nobody else, and the flakiness she gets in her pie crust is unmatched. I have her recipe, but mine never turns out quite as well as hers. Believe me, I’ve tried and failed enough times to prove it. I’ve watched her technique, called her for advice, and tried every hack on the internet. It just doesn’t turn out like hers does. But sad, saggy pie crusts aside, I still crave a good cherry pie in the summer. Sometimes a galette just doesn’t cut it. I want a deep dish, flaky AF pie. What’s a girl to do?
I’ll tell you what I do: I buy a pie crust. A frozen one, from the store. And you know what? My grandma is right. It isn’t quite as good as hers would be. It’s not quite as flaky. It’s missing a little bit of sweetness. But besides those tiny little flaws, it’s pretty darn good and easy as, well, pie.
But every time I took this approach, there was a little twinge of guilt that came with every spoonful of cherry pie and melted ice cream. I didn’t make it by hand, which makes it less than. A cheaper dessert. A cheat code for a sweet treat. I used to feel like a sham baker — one that doesn’t deserve to watch the bakers of Bake Off if I couldn’t be troubled to make my own rough puff pastry.
Then one day, I decided that I was done feeling guilty for it. Two things can be true at once: I can use frozen pie crust and make cherry pies that honor my grandma’s baking legacies. There’s nothing wrong with using a “cheat” and buying a pie crust if the day ends with me sitting at a table surrounded by loved ones, enjoying a cherry pie that I didn’t make from step one.
Using workarounds like puff pastry, pre-made pie crust, and phyllo doughs doesn’t make you any less of a good cook — it just makes you more creative! When you give up the arduous task of making the dough, you have more time to focus on the other things, like picking out the perfect bottle of wine to compliment your dinner menu or grilling the most beautiful steak you’ve ever seen.
Need a quick idea for appetizers? Roll out some puff pastry, brush it with olive oil, and cut it into strips. Sprinkle everything bagel seasoning on top, and dip the breadsticks into something delicious like this spicy yogurt dip. Easy and delicious!
Other favorite recipes to make with premade dough? Tomato pie. Cherry popovers. Strawberry galettes. It’s summertime, and the baking is easy once you embrace the joys of cheating.
If you don't want to cheat and make everything from scratch, there's Pie and Tart Boot Camp on Saturday, July 8 at 10am at Lincoln Square. In this hands-on class, you'll learn how to make tender, flaky crusts, wrap them around sweet and savory fillings, and bake them to golden perfection:
- Perfect Pie Dough
- Blueberry-Lemon Hand Pies with Cream Cheese Dough
- Sweet Corn Quiche with Arugula, Sun-Dried Tomato and Parmesan Salad
- Individual Chocolate Custard Pies with Whipped Cream and Salted Caramel
- Individual Spiced Plum Galettes