It’s the perfect time to Spotlight home baker Gail Ellis, a Communications Specialist with the Oklahoma State University Extension. We met Gail this summer through her feature article Baking Surges with a Renewed Sense of Home, and the Oklahoma Wheat Commission and HBA workshops held virtually and in person. We learned Gail is a wannabe-pie-baker!
From her home in Sand Springs, OK, Gail’s goal is to pick up third generational pie baking and bake pies like her Grandma Cooper. Gail shares:
“My maternal grandmother, Martha Cooper, was the perfect example of a Godly woman, devoted mother and grandmother, and tough-as-nails, resilient farmer’s wife. She made pies for the local café in my small hometown in southeast Kansas. Grandma would open her kitchen cabinets to retrieve baking ingredients and I’d see her faded, brown recipe cards taped to the inside of the cabinet door. The notes were well worn, and the instructions were simple, leaving a lot of room for error as I try to replicate her pie crust today.
My mother inherited grandma’s pie making skills, and now it’s up to me to carry on the tradition. I’ve played with different recipes, used butter instead of Crisco and watched a lot of tutorials online, but I keep coming back to grandma’s basic pie crust. Every time I visit my mother on the farm, I watch her make a batch of crust. I’m determined to at least get close with grandma’s recipe.”
What was the faded recipe card taped in the cupboard?
Grandma Cooper’s Basic Pie Crust
(For one 9-inch pie crust and top)
1 cup flour
2/3 cup Crisco
Dash of salt
Mix with fork or pastry blender to cut in.
1 cup flour – mix in.
1/4 cup water
Cut in flour, mix in water and make dough ball.
Roll out on bread board.
Gail’s filled this great crust with one of her favorite “quick and easy” go to pies- a Dream Pie!
“I had planned to make a pumpkin pie but then realized I didn’t have all of the ingredients. So, the pie pictured is just a dream pie.”
Gail used Two envelopes Dream Whip
Two (3.5 oz) pkgs any-flavor instant pudding mixes (Gail used chocolate)
2 ¾ cup cold milk
1 tsp. vanilla
1 baked 9-inch pie crust
- Mix 1 cup milk with two envelopes of Dream Whip mix. Mix on HIGH for 6 minutes.
- Add remaining milk, vanilla and pudding mixes. Mix on LOW to blend, then mix on HIGH for 2 more minutes until blended and thick.
- Fill the pre-baked pie crust.
Topping: “I sprinkled a few mini semisweet chocolate chips and nuts on top!
I was focused on the crust. The filling in this pic is nothing fancy!”
“My grandmother never worried about placing ice cubes in the water she used in her crust recipe. The Crisco she used was room temperature, and she never set aside the dough to chill.” Gail says, she often thinks she over-works the dough and worries if the ingredients are too warm or too cold when trying to roll it out for the pie shell. Somehow, Grandma Cooper got it just right every time.”
HBA loves to help all budding pie bakers!
- Check out the latest resources — Pastry Pizazz– with it’s many recipes
- Pastry Pizazz lesson guide
- Power point All About Pastry
- View how to “Cut-in,” go to Glossary entry
Stay tuned as Gail finds her magic! Follow her writing- and we hope pie baking—through HBA partner Oklahoma State University Cooperative Extension, firstname.lastname@example.org.