Tuesday, November 22, 2011

How to make the perfect pie crust

I'm a huge fan of pies. Mainly because they're so easy to make (and of course, taste so good.) A lot of pie recipes that I come across though, call for a store bought pie crust. If you know how to make a crust, you would think it's as ridiculous as I do to buy one. It's literally the easiest thing to do, takes only minutes and uses very few ingredients. It tastes better than a store bought one and it's cheaper!
I volunteered to make a couple of pies for my family's Thanksgiving dinner, so I thought I would show you how I do it.
I made dough for two crusts in ten minutes - and I was stopping to document the whole thing. You have no excuse. Here we go:

Literally all you need is some flour and something sticky to hold it together like crisco or butter and water. That's it. All the ingredients. Now, you can add stuff to it if you want to, like I did here. For instance if you're making a chicken pie, you could add a little pinch of salt and maybe some rosemary. Since I'm making dessert pies, I added about a tablespoon of sugar per pie crust (below is the ingredients for two single pie crusts) and a pinch of salt (because I like it.)

I used crisco for my crusts. If you're working with butter, make sure it's very cold, and work fast so it stays cold. Butter crusts are a little more difficult because butter likes to melt. But if you're confident in your mixing and rolling speed, by all means, use butter.

Here are the measurements for one single pie crust:

1 and 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1/3 cup crisco or butter
4-5 tablespoons of ice water

If you are making a double crust pie (a pie that has crust on the top) then use these measurements:

2 cups all purpose flour
2/3 cup crisco or butter
6-7 tablespoons of ice water

Put your flour in a bowl. Then dump in the crisco. Then use something to "cut" the crisco into the flour. Most people use a pastry cutter. I used to use a whisk, until I inherited my grandma's 50 year + cutter (pictured above.) Basically you just need something to chop the crisco into thousands of tiny little pieces while picking up the flour on the way. Your mixture will start to look lumpy. And the little lumps are good. They are what will make your crust flaky. When the crisco or butter melts in those little tiny flour pockets it will create delicious, decadent flakes. Yum.
So, make all those lumps about the same size (roughly the size of peas...or wild blueberries, which I'm currently loving right now.)

When you get the lumps all done, it's time to add your ice water. The reason you want your water cold is so that your flake lumps won't melt before they're part of the actual pie. Flakes happen in the oven, not in the bowl.
Push your flour mix over to one side of the bowl. You're going to start tossing the dry dough with the water one tablespoon at a time, and pushing the moistened dough over the other side of the bowl. This dough is not going to stick all together. It's going to have dryish pieces all over the place. Trust me though. This works. You don't want too much water and you don't want to over mix the dough. Remember, the goal is too keep those flake pockets intact.

The picture below shows me half way through mixing the water with the dough. See how it still has some dry stuff in it? That's what yours should look like too.

Now, all the water is mixed in.

Now ball up your dough (just one ball if you made a single crust dough, but divide it into two if made a double crust or two single crusts like I did.) DON'T knead it! Just press the pieces together.

Now put your ball on some plastic wrap.

And wrap it up. I like to use to the wrap to press it into a ball shape even more.

Done. Put it in the fridge for an hour or so to make it easier to roll out later, or put in there for a couple of days like I did. I'm not making the pies until tomorrow, but at least I have my dough ready. Tomorrow I'll show you an easy way to roll it out.
Happy pie baking!

No comments: