Don't dread making dessert it's as easy as pie

Posted: Sunday, November 21, 2004

TOPEKA, Kan. Four out of five Americans have baked a pie, according to a recent survey conducted for Pillsbury Refrigerated Pie Crusts. The majority of those chefs 77 percent baked their first pie by age 29.

Sandy Cravens wasn't surprised. She and her husband, Ken Cravens, aka "The Pie Guy," sell homemade pies and sweets at farmers' markets in Topeka and Manhattan.

As a child, Cravens watched and helped her mother and grandmother bake pies.

"My grammie ... didn't really have a written-down recipe. Just dump and pour a handful of this and pinch of that," she said. "I think every good cook develops their own recipes."

Cravens said she can't follow someone else's recipe without tinkering with it. And she doesn't hesitate to break the cooking rules she doesn't like.

Cravens developed her own pie crust recipe after getting frustrated with the more classic recipes.

"They always say use cold water," she said. "I never could get it to work. The dough was always hard."

Cravens uses warm water instead and said the dough was much easier to work with. She described the texture as biscuit-like.

"It makes a mushy, sticky, soft dough," she said. "I work my dough with both hands and squish it with my hands until it squeezes through my fingers."

Slices of life:

89: Percentage of women who have made a pie

58: Percentage of men who have made a pie

44: Percentage of Americans who made their first pie by age 18

35: Percentage of women who make pies to show they care for the family

27: Percentage of men who make pies so they can show off their talents and-or creativity in the kitchen

24: Percentage of Americans who taught themselves how to make pies

30: Percentage of Americans who think their moms are the best pie makers in the family.

Source: A July 2004 national survey conducted by TNS-NFO for Pillsbury Refrigerated Pie Crusts

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