Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

How the Pie Crust Crumbles

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

How the Pie Crust Crumbles

Article excerpt

Pumpkin, apple, mincemeat what's a holiday meal without pies?

With that in mind, we decided to test a variety of the ready-made pie shells and packaged crust mixes available at grocery stores. For help with the filling, we turned to Tim Brennan, owner of Cravings Gourmet Desserts.

He agreed to make the crusts we provided and fill them with his light pumpkin and whipped cream filling, then top them with toasted pecans.

Getting judges was as easy as pie. We thumbed through the St. Louis Culinary Society's membership roster and asked five professionals representing five different facets of the St. Louis food world. All knew Brennan's pastries. All said, "Yes!"

We met at Cravings, Brennan's restaurant at 8149 Big Bend Boulevard in Webster Groves. Judges sat side by side at a long table. They tasted one pie at a time and awarded points to the crusts in each of five categories: appearance, texture, taste, overall quality and personal pleasure. They used this point system:

PIE POINT SCALE

0 points Pitiful.

1 point Poor.

2 points Passable.

3 points Pleasant.

4 points Praiseworthy.

5 points Perfect.

Before they started, Brennan offered Jack Daniel's as a palate clearer ("It has a natural affinity with pumpkin," he joked). All judges chose ice water.

Brennan had baked two crusts for each brand in the test. He filled one crust of each pair and left the second empty. All shells were in 9-inch deep-dish aluminum pans. Clay Davis, Cravings's restaurant manager, placed one pie and its corresponding empty crust on the table. After judges had seen the crusts whole, Brennan cut the pie and judges broke and tasted the empty crust. Davis then served each judge a piece of pie.

"Can you cut the pieces a little bigger?" asked a judge. "Will you wrap my leftovers and I'll take them home?" another judge requested.

Then, silence descended. The pies were studied, sampled, savored and scored. Silence was broken at one point only, when a waiter walked by with a tray of pastries. "Let's have those as palate clearer," said a judge.

*****

THE CRUSTS

In order tasted

PILLSBURY PIE CRUST MIX

We paid $1. …

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