Meet D.C.'s Newest Blogging Baker & Cop Her Recipe For Cherry Pie

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Teeny Lamothe has a passion for pie and she’s sharing it with the world, one crust at a time. The Colorado native took a leap of faith two years ago, quitting her job and taking off across the country to learn as much as she could about being a “lady pie baker.” Along the way, she has made all types of pies, learned how to live out of a suitcase, and filled a Tumblr with stories about her creations. She recently settled in D.C. to pen a cookbook (about pie, obviously), to be published next year. Lamothe took time out of her pastry-packed schedule to share her thoughts on the pie scene here in Washington, some life lessons, and her recipe for the perfect cherry pie.
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When did you realize your hobby was a passion — and that it could become a career?
"The idea for the Tour of Pie began to take shape after I’d been baking a few pies every week for nearly a year. I started by baking a single pie a week, which soon turned into two or three pies a week. The lease on my Chicago apartment was nearly up, my boyfriend was going to grad school for the year, and, while I loved the family I nannied for, it seemed like the perfect time for a big change. I decided to build an apprenticing tour [where] I would spend a year studying under strong baking women who had the wherewithal to own and operate their own shops, with the hope of someday being able to take all of that knowledge and experience and put it towards opening a pie shop of my own."
How do you keep from getting burned out on having too much pie?
"It helps that I live with someone who loves pie nearly as much as he loves me! Together, we keep the pies from languishing on the counter for too long. Aside from his ardent love for pie, I think one of the biggest reasons I’ve not burned out on pie is that I’m still so enamored with it and the possibilities it has presented over the last few years.
I still find it relaxing to roll out crusts and especially enjoy coming up with new and exciting flavors. I hope that that’s something that never fades, regardless of how often I do it. Of course, there are days when it feels like more of a job than a joy, but on those days, it helps to remember that the pursuit for the perfect pie should never be over."
What was the most important thing you learned while on your Tour Of Pie?
"I think it showed me how having a deep passion for something can translate into bravery. I’m not a person that revels in change, so the decision to leave my very comfortable life and become a vagabond pie baker was not something that I came to lightly. I was occasionally homesick and fairly often terrified, but I came to understand [that] the disappointment and heartache I would feel if I gave up on the adventure trumped any brief misgivings or fear. By keeping the idea of finding a place for myself within the baking community forefront in my mind, I was able to overcome the terror of the unknown and accomplish some truly wonderful things."
Photos: Courtesy of Katie McKenzie
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What is your secret to turning out a great pie crust?
"Homemade pie crust is my favorite part of any given pie. One of the most helpful bits of advice my mom ever gave me was to know when it was time to throw in the towel and start over, [but] I also happen to think repetition is key. My early crusts were almost always amoeba-shaped and would always tear when I was trying to get them into the pie tin. Practice really does make perfect, and over time, I learned the little tricks that made making crust easier for me.
Practically, I can recommend using cold fats; an equal amount of ice water and vodka, to help with the flakiness of the crust; giving the dough enough time to rest and cool in the refrigerator before rolling it out; and sprinkling a fair amount of flour onto the counter to prevent it from sticking."
Now that the weather is finally getting nice, what’s a great pie to make for an outdoor get-together?
"I think any and all fruit pies are perfect picnic pies. Blackberry, strawberry-rhubarb, blueberry, cherry...the picnicking possibilities are endless. I’m especially fond of throwing a handful of fresh herbs into the filling to add a bit of a twist. Blueberry-mint and strawberry-basil happen to be two of my favorites."
You have a cookbook coming out in 2014. What's your go-to recipe when you need to turn out a pie in a pinch?
"I have a few crowd-pleasers, which tend to be a hit in any crowd, like bourbon-bacon-pecan and sweet potato. But, my favorite pies to bake are the fruit pies. I don’t like to bake with any ingredient when it’s out of season, so I live for spring and summer, when blackberries, cherries, strawberries, and rhubarb are finally back in stores. My favorite has always been cherry pie, and I still use my mom’s recipe, which uses a little bit of almond extract to help the bright, sou- cherry flavor really pop."
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Photos: Courtesy of Katie McKenzie
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Teeny's Cherry Pie
Ingredients for the crust:
2 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
2 teaspoons salt
2 tablespoons sugar
12 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 cup shortening
1/3 cup cold vodka
1/3 cup ice water
1. In a large bowl, mix together the flour, salt, and sugar using a whisk or your hands. Cut in the shortening and the butter using a pastry cutter, a fork, or your fingers until each piece of butter or shortening is the size of a small pea and coated in flour. You can also cut the butter into small squares before tossing into the bowl, and it will take less time to to cut it into the flour.
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2. Add the vodka and use a rubber spatula to press the dough together. Add the water and use the rubber spatula to press the dough together to form a large ball. Try to work the dough as little as possible when forming the ball, otherwise it has the potential of being too tough. The dough should be fairly wet and sticky, so you shouldn’t have any issue getting all of the crumbs to stick together. If, for some reason, your dough seems particularly dry, you can add a little extra ice water, a tablespoon at a time, until everything comes together easily.
3. Separate the dough into two balls, wrap in plastic wrap, and store in the fridge for at least an hour.
Ingredients for the pie:
4 cups fresh or frozen sour cherries
3/4 cup granulated sugar
4 to 6 tablespoons cornstarch
1 teaspoon almond extract
1 batch of double crust pie dough
1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees with the rack in the middle position.
2. In a medium saucepan, heat the cherries over low-medium heat until they begin to release juice. Stir occasionally until you have a fair amount of juice in the saucepan.
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3. In a small bowl, mix together the sugar and cornstarch. Turn the heat under the cherries to medium-high and add the sugar and cornstarch. Stir to fully incorporate the sugar and cornstarch, making sure there are no lumps. The juice and berries will be a milky color and very thin and watery. Stir continuously until the juice thickens and darkens in color, becoming shiny and translucent, about 10 to 20 minutes. Be careful to stir continuously so it doesn't stick to the bottom of the pan. Transfer the filling to a separate bowl and stir in the almond extract. Set aside to let cool while you prepare the pie crust.
4. Roll out the bottom crust and transfer to a nine-inch-diameter pie dish. Trim any excess dough, but be sure to leave a 3/4-inch overhang. Stir the filling and spoon it into the crust, once it’s cooled and no longer steaming. Roll out the top crust, place over the filling, and tuck any excess dough under the bottom crust. Crimp the two crusts together, pressing to seal. Be sure to cut a few slits in the top crust to allow steam to escape.
5. Bake for 35 to 45 minutes, or until the crust is a golden brown.
Photo: Courtesy of Teeny Lamothe
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