In 2011, instead of going to pastry school, lifelong baker Teeny Lamothe embarked on another adventure: an apprenticeship tour of pie shops across the country.
She spent a year hopping from bakery to bakery, learning everything she could from the female entrepreneurs who’d also turned their love of pie into a livelihood. Her travel/baking blog turned into a book deal, which brings her to Central Market for a cooking class this week at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday. (Tickets cost $70, and Lamothe will be teaching a number of desserts, including strawberry basil pie, banana cream pie with Vanilla Wafer crust and pickled beet, goat cheese and walnut tarts.)
"Teeny’s Tour of Pie: A Cookbook" is mostly a cookbook, but Lamothe, who lives in Washington D.C. now, also profiles some of the shops she worked at on her journey and shares some of the life lessons she learned about the inherent imperfection of making pie, why pie is a year-round treat and knowing when to throw in the towel on an experiment and start over.
Earl Grey Cream Pie
The inspiration for this Earl Grey pie comes from a semester in London when Lamothe was in college. "I became intrigued with the idea of infusing cream pies with various types of tea in order to create different ‘teatime pies,’" she writes. "This one in particular, with its cookie crust, tea-colored filling, and distinctly Bergamot-flavored infusion, is spot on…absolutely reminiscent of my London days."
For the sugar cookie crust:
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 tsp. salt
1 large egg
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
For the filling:
2 1/2 cups whole milk
3 individual Earl Grey tea bags
4 large egg yolks
1/2 cup granulated sugar
3 Tbsp. packed cornstarch
1/2 tsp. salt
2 Tbsp. unsalted butter, at room temperature
Whipped cream, for topping
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or in a large bowl using a handheld electric mixer, beat together the butter, sugar and salt on medium speed until the mixture is light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.
Scrape down the side of the bowl with a rubber spatula and add the egg. Mix on medium speed until the egg is fully incorporated, about 2 minutes. Scrape down the side of the bowl again and add the flour, 1/4 cup at a time, mixing after each addition until everything just comes together. Form the dough into a large ball, wrap it in plastic, and refrigerate it for at least 30 minutes or up to 1 hour.
Press the dough into a 9-inch pie plate, making sure to press it evenly so it’s 1/4-inch thick all the way around and up the side. Prick the bottom and side with a fork and chill, unwrapped, in the freezer until it is frozen through, at least 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 325 degrees with a rack in the middle position. Take the crust directly from the freezer, line it with parchment paper and fill it with pie weights. Bake until the side is golden brown, 15 to 20 minutes. Remove the weights and liner and bake an additional 5 minutes. Let cool before making the filling.
For the filling, bring the milk to a simmer in a small saucepan over medium heat and cook, stirring constantly so it doesn’t stick to the bottom, 10 minutes. Remove the saucepan from the heat and add the tea bags to the hot milk. Set aside and let the tea steep for 30 minutes. Remove the three tea bags from the milk (which will have cooled) and whisk in the egg yolks. In a medium saucepan whisk together the sugar, cornstarch, and salt.
Whisk the milk mixture into the sugar mixture until there are no lumps. Cook over medium heat, whisking constantly, until the mixture comes to a low simmer and begins to thicken about 8 minutes. Continue cooking, whisking constantly and being sure to scrape the bottom of the pan to prevent scorching, until the mixture begins to boil, about 1 minute. Still whisking constantly, let it boil for a full minute, then immediately remove it from the heat.
Add the butter and whisk until it is completely melted and the mixture is smooth. Pour the Earl Grey cream into the prebaked crust and, while still hot, cover it with plastic wrap to prevent a film from forming on the top. Refrigerate the pie until the filling has set, at least 4 hours. Before serving, remove the plastic wrap and top with the whipped cream. Serve cold. Serves 6 to 8.
— From "Teeny’s Tour of Pie: A Cookbook" by Teeny Lamothe (Workman, $15.95)