Pillsbury sent me an email about a slab pie. It looked delicious and mouthwatering. An Oreo Slab Pie is what they called it. I always thought they were called square pies.
Don’t be fooled though. If you Google square pies you’ll get a bunch of jargon about numbers and roots and dimensions and everything but pie. I mean real pie. The last straw was when a website posed the question as to whether pi was made up of rational or irrational numbers. Turns out, google has an automatic spell check and assumed I meant pi r squared when I was looking for a square pie.
Square or slab pies are not new. One website proposed that Martha Stewart invented them but I doubt she’s that old. Pioneers of a hundred years ago were known to bake pies in the square as a way to serve large crowds.
There are two basic points one must remember when shaping a square pie. It will take more crust. It will take more filling. Both are okay by me. I love pie. Apparently lots of people do. Britain has a Pie Week (1st week of March), Americans have two Pie Days (Dec.1 & Jan.23) and a whole Pie Month (February). My question is, why not have it be the National Food and serve it 24/7?
When people are asked about their favorite pie, most answer apple. However one survey found that over 22% of those polled actually liked “other than”. That was other than apple, strawberry-rhubarb, pumpkin, cherry, blueberry, lemon meringue or chocolate. That tells you there’s a whole lot of pies that hold a treasure of ingredients other than the norm.
There are also two categories of pies whether round or square. Sweet and savory. While sweet pies are the overwhelming choice, savory pies are wonderful inventions of a deep flaky crust holding meats, veggies, cheeses, sauces and spices. Modern ideas even include macaroni and cheese stuffed pies. How great is that!
But back to the square pie. Pillsbury recommends their own refrigerated pie crusts for their slab pies. They are round, yes, but they have a nifty picture of someone rolling the two pie shells stacked on top of each other. It is supposed to easily roll into a rectangle of 15x10x1-inch proportions. Easier said than done. If stretched far enough for the pan, it leaves no pastry for a top crust of any kind. So of course, Pillsbury says to use half a roll of their sugar cookie dough, cut into tiny pieces and dotted on top. I find no problem in eating cookies and pie at the same time, however, some might exclaim ‘sugar overload’.
Here are some old-fashioned tips for pies, no matter what shape they’re in.
• Pastry can be frozen for up to three months. Shape pastry in a ball, flatten and wrap tightly in plastic wrap. Place in zipper top freezer bag. Or, roll pastry out, line pie pans. Wrap entire pan in plastic wrap. Slip pan into zipper top freezer bag. Press as much air out as possible. Thaw pastry to be rolled. Frozen pie shell in pans can be baked from frozen state.
• Pies can be lower calorie by using bottom crust only. Granola, oats, or a few tablespoons of finely chopped nuts can be sprinkled on the top for a decorative look or just arrange top pieces of fruit in a pattern. Cutting amount of sugar in pie filling, even by a few tablespoons can result in fewer calories and larger fruit taste.
• General rule for cutting pies: 8-inch pie yields 4 to 6 wedges. 9-inch pie yields 6 wedges. 10-inch pie yields 8 wedges. Square pies yield more servings. The sweeter and richer the filling the smaller the wedges hence more servings per pie.
• If pie is browning too fast, place a piece of foil over it loosely. Or cut center round out of square piece of foil to leave middle open to heat. Only edges of pie will be covered.
• Always preheat oven for pie baking. Cold pastry ingredients and hot oven will help bake a crispy, flaky crust.
• If you’re unsure of how large a circle to roll out, cut a large piece of wax paper 2 inches larger than your pie pan. (9-inch pie, cut paper 11 inches round; 10-inch pie, cut paper 12 inches round)
Place the pie dough on the cutout paper. Roll until dough reaches all edges of paper, use paper to transfer dough into pan.
One Crust Pastry
1 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup lard OR 1/3 cup shortening and 1 tablespoon butter
2-3 tablespoons ice cold water
In bowl, mix flour and salt. Add the lard or shortening/butter. Use fork, two knives or pastry blender to cut shortening into flour until mixture resembles coarse cornmeal or tiny peas. Add water one spoonful at a time, drawing mixture together with fork. When ball forms, place dough on wax paper and roll out. Dough can be wrapped tightly in flattened ball and refrigerated.