Friday Yeast Fail

I banked my evening post on some cast iron skillet focaccia bread. The plan was to bake a zesty round of generously seasoned pan bread, a twelve inch disc of leavened goodness, baked to perfection in the oven and sliced up for some Friday night snacking.

I followed a simple recipe: some flour, yeast, olive oil, spices, salt, water… you know how this goes.

Mixed, I set it all aside to rise.

I waited.

I watched.

I put it into the proofing drawer of my oven.

I waited some more.

I think my failing was relying on store bought yeast. I would have gone the sourdough starter route, but I dreamed up this plan in the afternoon and was hoping for a Friday treat.

The darned thing never rose.

I turned into a cold, wet, oily ball of dough with so little going for it that six hours later I’m pretty much resigned to cooking it up and seeing what happens.

And whatever happens will definitely not be focaccia.

This is Pi Day

Any excuse to bake something, my pie skills are not top game but with the assistance of my daughter we managed to bake a pair of non-standard cast iron pies to celebrate the dad-jokiest of days.

We doubled the recipe below to make a six inch mini (or as the teenager would have it, personal) pie and a super-large double-dip pie in the big ol’ twelve inch lodge pan.

Pi day also falls at the wrong time of year for some proper fresh fruit, so where we’d have a couple thousand baking apples to work with in August, in March we used our fallback: cherry and blueberry pie filling from a can.

Recipe

1/2 pound lard
2.5 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup orange juice
1 can of pie filling

The flour, salt and lard got mixed up roughly in a bowl, being careful not to overwork. Unlike with a good gluten-strong bread, pastry and gluten are cautious friends and too much gluten development makes for chewy crust where a flaky pastry is preferred. Blend lightly, my friends. Oh so lightly.

When just mixed, the orange juice was combined in and the whole thing was wrapped tight for a couple hours of rest in the fridge.

Rolled out, panned up, filled, and topped, we baked these at 475F for ten minutes then dropped the heat to 375F for a finishing bake watching for the desired browning. The filling was pre-cooked, so the cast iron pan on the bottom and the hot air on top ensure the whole thing is cooked through.

Happy Pi Day. Enjoy something round!

Pi Day, Eve

We spent the evening making pies.

Tomorrow is March 14th.

It’s one of those “we celebrate the day because it’s funny“ kinda days.

The third month.

The fourteenth day.

3-14

3.14

Pi.

π

Pi day.

Last year I bought a pie on my way back to my office after lunch. It was March 13th. I got called into a meeting fifteen minutes later and didn’t go home until almost 9pm that night having been drafted to the emergency communications team reacting to COVID-19.

I ate a cold piece of pie late the next day after another 16 hour work day, stressed, deflated, and shell-shocked from the pandemic hitting our little city full force.

I went a bit overboard on this baked pie.

I used the 12 inch frying pan as a pie plate.

Two cans of store-bought pie filling.

It’s so big.

The kid helped, and in fact she did most of the work.

This year’s pie is going to be so much better than last year.