Friday, September 23, 2011

Basic Pie Crust

I've been meaning to make this "tutorial" (if you will) for quite some time now. If you have ever attempted to make your own pie crust, only to find flour all over your kitchen counters, lumpy pieces of dough stuck to your rolling pin, and a crumbly mess that by all rights should have slid seamlessly into your pie dish, then you're not alone. I struggled with pie crust for a long time before I admitted defeat and asked my mother (my own personal pastry guru) for help. I don't know what I was thinking, but a few years ago I offered to make an early Thanksgiving dinner for my husband's entire K-9 section (with their families, it was about 25 people). I planned on making 3 different kinds of pies, and I dedicated an entire afternoon to preparing them. Within 1/2 hour, my kitchen was a disaster, I had no pie crust to speak of but a sticky, crumbly mess, and I was so frustrated I almost burst into tears. I called my mom back in the States-we were living in Germany at the time-and she helped me create what I consider to be the perfect pie crust. (The closest Food Network recipe I found was Alton Brown's Pie Crust). Over the phone, no less! Yes, my mom is awesome. Before I start my tutorial, I would suggest that you do the following before embarking on a pie-making adventure:

1. Make sure you have at least a few hours to yourself. The more rushed and frazzled you are, the more messy the dough will be. I assure you, the dough can sense your anxiety.
2. Make yourself a cup of caffeine free tea, or a glass of wine (my personal preference). Again, if you are calm and relaxed, the dough will behave.
3. Make sure the water you're using is ice cold. I usually pour a glass of water and add a few ice cubes to it.

so, without further ado....

Basic Pie Crust

Ingredients:


1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
6 T butter, chilled
2 T shortening, chilled
ice cold water (a few T)

Directions:

1. Place butter and lard in freezer for 15 minutes. When ready to use, remove and cut both into small pieces.

2. In the bowl of a food processor, combine flour and salt by pulsing 3 to 4 times.
3. Add butter and pulse 5 to 6 times until texture looks mealy.


5. Add lard and pulse another 3 to 4 times.

6. Remove lid of food processor and spritz surface of mixture thoroughly with water. Replace lid and pulse 5 times. Add more water and pulse again until mixture holds together when squeezed.
8. Place mixture in large zip-top bag (I just used a piece of Cling Wrap; it worked just fine), squeeze together until it forms a ball, and then press into a rounded disk and refrigerate for 30 minutes.


9. Remove dough from refrigerator. Cut along 2 sides of the plastic bag, open bag to expose dough, and sprinkle both sides with flour. Cover again with plastic and roll out with a rolling pin to a 10 to 11-inch circle. (As you can see, my "circle" was lacking at best. Whatever, it still worked!).
 10. Alton goes on to give instructions for "blind baking" (putting dry beans inside the crust in a pie dish to bake before you add filling) but hardly any of my recipes call for blind baking, so I'm just going to give you the last instruction from my mom. With your rolling pin, roll up the dough so it sticks to the pin, like so:
11. Roll out dough in to a 9-inch pie dish. Happy baking!

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