Making Friends on the Plane

Recipe for murbeteig – a northern German pie crust

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A week or so prior to my trip to visit my parents for Thanksgiving, my friend Beth was winding a ball of yarn by hand at our Tuesday morning stitching group. I had been considering what to take for an activity on the he plane and remembered how somebody told me that they wound yarn on the bus as a meditative activity. So I packed an unwound skein of yarn and a knitting pattern for said yarn.

Winding the yarn by hand did prove pretty calming and helped me forget how claustrophobic the seating was on my flight. It also sparked a conversation with my neighbor for the plane ride. She is an amazing writer man named Kathrine. She moved from Germany to Manhattan in the 1960s when she was 18 and eventually moved to the Philly area after living in New York for almost 10 years. We talked about knitting, our families, houseplants, our men friends, baking and bunch of other things. The flight went by so quick with all of our conversation, and I walked away with a pie crust recipe!

My mom was so excited about the recipe that she took my journal and made a copy. I had told her that the recipe was a German recipe and she thought that her copier/scanner/printer translated it into German when she mistakenly copied my knitting pattern rather than the recipe!

My new friend Kathrine had told me how unimpressed she was with American pie crusts and that she preferred the pie crusts from her northern German childhood. If you’ve ever tried out a German recipe you’d see that it requires weighing the ingredients rather than using cups and teaspoons and such. Kathrine had been looking for an American version of this German recipe for years and eventually came across one that was easy to use and remember. She told me about different tips for the pie, like brushing egg over the crust to keep the filling from making the crust soggy and that Trader Joe’s frozen wild blueberries make a great filling.

My mom and I talked about the differences between pie crusts she’s made and this version as we were making the pies. Kathrine had given me the German name for the crust, and while the pies were baking I did some research. Apparently it’s more of a shortbread crust that can also be used for cookies and makes the pie more of a tart.

Here’s Kathrine’s recipe for Murbeteig (or Mellow Dough in English):

  • 1 stick of unsalted butter
  • 1 cup of white sugar
  • 2 cups of flour
  • 1 egg (reserve a little bit of egg white if you’d like to keep the crust from getting soggy)

Knead together all ingredients with your hands. Roll the dough flat with a rolling pin – or if you don’t have one use a wine bottle. Place the dough in the bottom of two pie pans or place half in the bottom of one and use the other half for the top. If you’d like the crust to not be soggy, brush it with the reserved egg white.

The filling is up to you. If you decide to use frozen fruit, allow it to thaw a bit and mix about 1 1/2 teaspoons of cornstarch to thicken the juice. You could also pour some maple syrup over the fruit if it needs some sweetening. My mom prefers to slice up several types of apples for a more full flavor. She also coats the apples with a little sugar, flour and cinnamon. If you don’t tomorrow the fruit with half of the pie crust, you could combine some brown sugar, flour and butter for a crumb topping. It’s all up to you!

Bake the pie at 350F for up to 45 minutes depending on the thickness of the crust. Just keep an eye on it from about 30 minutes on. When the fruit or topping starts browning, it should be done.

I hope your pies are as delicious as ours!

Keep on creating!

Author: Kelly

Artsy. Crafty.

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