There has been one type of baking absent from this blog — pastry. There are pie recipes in the 1906 Berlin Cook Book but I have been avoiding them. I don’t really like pie. I like the filling but not the crust. Mostly I’ve been avoiding these recipes because I can not make pastry. I repeat… I CAN NOT make pastry. It is one of the disappointments of my historical cooking life. Today’s recipe is for Chocolate Pie using a crust made from Florence Boullee’s recipe for Pastry for One Pie.
I have tried and tried to make lovely pie crusts and I just can’t seem to manage to get the beautiful looking and tender pies one expects from a historic cook. I’ve been told my hands are too warm. I’ve tried immersing my hands in cold water. I’ve even had the opportunity to roll pastry on a marble board. I’ve learned to mix for a short time and with a light touch. Nothing helps.
But here goes another try… I measured the flour and shortening and cut up the shortening a bit. I added a pinch of salt and about 3 tablespoons of cold water. I stirred it until it started to form a ball and then put my pastry on a floured board. I sprinkled it with a little flour and rolled it out until it sort of looked like a circle. Up until now, things were looking good. It is the transfer into the pie plate that is always my undoing. I had to fill gaps and repair tears. I attempted to pinch the edges but it isn’t pretty.
Next it was time to make the Chocolate Pie filling. I measured out the milk and sugar and put it in a bowl. I had a helper grate 1 square of unsweetened chocolate. I separated the eggs and beat them a little and then added it to the milky mixture. I added a bit of vanilla. The bowl went into a pot of water to form a double boiler. I put the heat on low and then on medium. It was at his point I got distracted. I don’t know how long it was on the heat but it just wasn’t thickening as I expected. Fortunately my non cooking house guest said “but won’t it thicken as it cools”. Brilliant!
I poured the chocolate milk mixture into my mangled pie crust. The amount was just right. I put the pan on a cookie sheet to prevent messy spill overs and baked the pie in a 350 degree F. oven for an unknown length of time. I forgot to check the clock and I was distracted. I checked after about 30 minutes and then added another 15 minutes. The crust was just starting to brown and the chocolate mixture appeared to be setting a little. I took it out of the oven and let it cool.
There is no acknowledgement for the Chocolate Pie recipe but Florence Boullee contributed the recipe for Pastry for One Pie. In the 1901 census 19 year old Florence Boullee lived in New Hamburg, Ontario with her parents and two younger sisters. Her father was a druggist. The family was of German heritage and Evangelical religion. By the time Berlin became a city in 1912, Miss Boullee was the wife of Edward Charles Richardson. They had married in the previous year. The Waterloo Generations website does not list children for the couple.
I could hardly wait to taste the pie but knew it needed to cool, and set, before I cut it. The first bite was a huge surprise. My pastry technique might be less than perfect but this crust was good. The chocolate filling was amazing. I’ll use the pastry recipe again. I liked the flavour and texture, and I survived my mangling. I will make the filling again when there are plenty of people to finish the pie as it is just too tempting to have around for long. With all my distractions tonight, I felt like I might have a connection to Miss Boullee. She had a much younger sister who might have helped make Pastry for One Pie and then waited anxiously for her sister’s pie to come out of the oven, especially if Florence happened to also have the recipe for Chocolate Pie. A modern cook doesn’t need to change a thing about either of these recipes to fit 2012 … except perhaps plan to get some exercise.
PASTRY FOR ONE PIE
1 cup sifted flour, 1/2 cup shortening, cold water, just enough to hold mixture together, a pinch of salt.
1 1/2 cups of milk, placed in double boiler, to this add 3/4 cup of sugar, mixed well with 2 tablepoons of grated chocolate, and the yolks of 3 eggs. Flavor to taste, bake with under crust.