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What was easy as pie for a co-worker just wasn't so for me

I am not a pastry person.

To clarify, I eat pastry. In fact, I could eat pastry all day.

But I do not make pastry. There's something about a little flour and a little butter (or shortening, or whatever you like to use) that brings out the worst in me.

It wasn't always this way. I have memories of standing on a chair and my grandmother leaning over me, helping me roll out a pie crust. Just thinking about it makes me smile.

Naturally, I want my kids to have the same cozy impressions of their youth. So, I get out the rolling pin once in a while and try to make a pie.

Here's how the afternoon (and it takes all afternoon) usually plays out:

A 5-year-old and a 3-year-old play tug of war with the rolling pin. Five-year-old wins. Three-year-old dumps flour on 5-year-old's head. Five-year-old pokes 3-year-old in the bottom with rolling pin.

Mom, covered with flour, screams for them to stop. She dismisses both offenders from the kitchen, flips on "Little Einstein" and struggles to roll out the crust herself.

With this history, you might wonder why I chose peach tart for this week's recipe.

This isn't just any tart. This is Bee reporter Eve Hightower's tart. She brought it into the newsroom the other day, and it was scrumptious.

The recipe is based on one for peach pie from the venerable "Fanny Farmer Cookbook." Eve and her husband tinkered with the ingredients and techniques and came up with a peachy-cinnamony concoction that our co-workers raved about.

But when the kids and I tried to make the tart, it wasn't that great.

Our first mistake was the peaches. We bought white peaches, which I later found have a subtle flavor. Good for eating, not so good for baking.

Our next mistake was handling the dough too much. The recipe said to work the butter into the flour with your hands. Well, with three pairs of hands, the butter got very warm very quickly. I'd recommend a pastry blender, or maybe a food processor.

We added water as directed but ended up with a squishy mess. Difficult to roll out, but just right for throwing at your sister (it sticks!).

We added more flour and finally came up with dough we could roll. Too bad it didn't fit in the pan. I had to patch the gaps with little bits of leftover dough and seal the seams with water (my grandmother's trick).

Peeling the peaches went well. I used a suggestion from our Taste editor, Sharon Ghag, who recommended dunking the peaches in ice water to cool them enough to peel.

We mixed the filling. We cut out the strips for the lattice crust (a little wavy, but who said looks are everything?).

By now, we had been at it for about an hour. We slapped the strips of dough on top of the peach filling. We didn't bother with the egg wash.

Baking the tart was uneventful but it did fill the house with a yummy, peachy smell. In fact, the smell was the best thing about the tart, because our version didn't taste that great.

Certainly not as great as Eve's.

Bee staff writer Kerry McCray can be reached at 578-2358 or

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