Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Fool-Proof Pie Crust

Have you started making your pie crust yet? If not, I recommend you start as soon as possible. You'll thank me later as that stuff needs to chill and it is one thing off your big list that can easily be done in advance. I have lots of pie responsibilities this year so I'm making a double batch of my "Fool-proof Pie Crust." It is chilling as we speak. What is going in the crust is still under some debate. Therefore, if you're recipe hunting let me provide an easy, delicious crust alternative along with some preparation notes. Enjoy!

Makes 3 crusts (enough for one two crust pie and one single crust pie).

Wet Ingredients:

1 Egg
1 T + 1/4 tsp white vinegar (that extra 1/4 tsp is key)
1/2 c. cold water

Dry Ingredients

4 c. flour
1 T. Sugar
1 tsp. Salt
1 3/4 fat --- I usually use 1c. butter and 3/4c. shortening, but you can use all of one or the other or a combination of your choice. The butter tastes better, the shortening will give you a flakier texture. If using butter, I recommend cutting it into relatively small cubes before adding.

The order that follows is important so read through the instructions and then start from the beginning.

1. Mix the egg and vinegar. Then add the water to this mixture and set aside.
2. Sift or pulse in a food processor flour, sugar, and salt.
3. "cut in" the fat -- This can be done by pulsing a food processor, using a pastry blender or criss-crossing through the flour mix and fat with two opposing knives. Your goal is small pea size bits of flower covered butter/shortening evenly distributed throughout.
4. When the mixture looks like coarse meal (vague isn't that? basically you're looking for little clumps of butter in the dry mixture throughout) - add in the pre-mixed wet ingredients. You may want to use your hands to help it combine. NOTE - It will likely look too dry.
5. Incorporate what you can roughly into a ball of dough and then chill for AT LEAST 30 minutes. It is going to be a bit wetter feeling after chilling so you'll be able to get the rest of that flour in later. NOTE: It can be chilled longer or even frozen. If you're in a hurry (that never happens, right?) you can put it in the freezer for 10-15min instead chilling in the fridge for 30 minutes.

6. Once chilled, divide into three balls of dough. Sprinkle the work surface liberally with flour and set your ball in the center. (NOTE: I like to roll my dough out using something between it and the rolling pin such as a flattened out produce bag. This prevents sticking and can help with the transfer to the pie pan). Roll dough from the center out to the edges alternating directions until it is about 1/4 inch think (exact thickness is personal preference, but will affect cooking times). (OK, I'm not that good at describing this - for pictures, instructions and a very similar recipe see the Pioneer Woman's Perfect Pie Crust. Yes, I'm slightly nervous that she says only Crisco will work as I only had butter on hand today.....).

Place your crusts in your pie pan of choice and go forth with the rest of your pie recipe which will likely have baking times and temps included. Hint - if you are just using butter, you may want to chill again after putting the crust in the pie pan.

(The pictures here are my pies last year, as clearly this year's are still in progress....)

Still here?? Did you know my darling hubby insists on cleaning the kitchen and doing the dishes, BEFORE I start baking? Fun guy that, but I'm not complaining!

Happy Thanksgiving!


DebB said...

Bravo to this crust recipe! I works every time and is flaky and delicious. I have it taped inside the door of my spice cabinet. And NO, using vinegar and an egg is not cheating, it is being resourceful and wise. (There are people who will ask.)

Jess said...

Maybe the crust is fool-proof, but the cook rolling it out has to be competent. Which I apparently am not. Took two batches to make one apple pie.
Hope this tastes good.


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