Joyce Maynard always seems to incorporate fresh produce and cooking into her stories, with a special affinity for baking. A scene in The Good Daughters includes freshly baked biscuits from scratch and ripened strawberries, while the preparation of a peach pie in Labor Day provides one of the most poignant moments in the book.
Having taught the art of pie making to scores of people over the years, here are some of Maynard's tips for creating the perfect pie:
- Use a combination of lard (or Crisco) and butter in equal amounts.
- Use ice water - as little as you can get away with - the less water, the flakier the crust.
- Instead of cornstarch, use Minute Tapioca to soak up extra juices. Scatter a little on the bottom crust before putting in the filling - no more soggy crust.
- When cutting up fruit for the filling, cut in various sizes - this allows some pieces to be firmer than others, making for a more interesting texture.
- Add just a little sugar...