Monday, August 31, 2009

Lying in wait...




PERFECT PIE CRUST

So innocent looking...so safe and unassuming...

But beware! A perfect pastry crust does nothing but patiently waits - for the perfect filling, the careful handling, the beautiful adornments...waits - for the oven and the chance to become golden and puffy, presenting layers of air and a flaky texture that melts in the mouth.

It beckons - tempts and teases...glowing with sugar crystals and wafting it's scent through the kitchen, the house, the neighborhood, even.

One taste and you succumb, forever spoiled to any other. Nothing will be the same after that forkful. There will be no peace, no rest - you will always strive for perfection and be content only when you've lovingly and tenderly brought forth a pie that needs do nothing but simply...

...wait.

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I love doing this in the food processor as it takes, literally, seconds. But if you do it by hand, only mix til barely combined and never knead pie crust.

This recipe makes enough for two double-crust pies. I usually make a 1/4 of it into pie crust cookies - you know, the ones Gramma used to make. Strips of pastry crust sprinkled with cinnamon-sugar and baked until golden brown and flaky. Yes...those!




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4 cups flour
2 teaspoons salt
1 tablespoon sugar
1 3/4 cups shortening, in chunks
1/2 cup water
1 egg
1/2 tablespoon white vinegar

In food processor: Add flour, salt, and sugar; whirl for a couple seconds until combined. In a small bowl whisk together the water, egg, and vinegar.

Add shortening chunks to processor and pulse just until large crumbs form.

Add egg mixture all at once and pulse just until combined and it starts to form a ball. Remove from processor, form into a ball while working dough as little as possible. Dough may be somewhat sticky. Place on a piece of plastic wrap and wrap tightly. Chill for at least an hour. Roll or use as normal. 1/4 of ball will make one crust - bottom or top.

(This dough is very soft. Roll on a well-floured surface and dust with flour as needed while rolling.)

If baking by itself for a no-bake pie, prick the crust all over - even on the sides - with a fork. This will allow the steam to release instead of it puffing up. Bake in a 350 oven for about 15 minutes, or until the crimped edges are turning golden. Cool compeltely if using a cold filling.

If using in a pumpkin or fruit pie - bake according to the pie recipe.

By hand: Combine flour, salt, and sugar. Cut in shortening until large pieces form.


In a small bowl whisk water, egg, and vinegar. Drizzle over flour mixture and toss with a fork, just until combined. Be careful not to overwork. Follow remaining directions above.



20 comments:

  1. now that is one beautiful crust!

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  2. Looks great. I've never made my own crust from scratch. Maybe I should get around to trying it out?

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  3. Beautifully crimped! Most of time, I would lost the momentum and ended with odd shaped crimp :-( Definitely KIV your blog for this ! Thank you for sharing.

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  4. bauluGoreng -

    I make the crust big enough to hang an inch or so over the edge when you've set it in the plate. (And with this recipe you can - 1/4 of it makes a large single crust.)

    Then I roll the outer edge UNDER itself so that it's thick and high sitting on the edge of the plate.

    I then use the index finger on my left hand - from the inside of the pie I push the edge of the crust OUT...hold it there and gently pinch it with my right-hand index finger and thumb.

    I like the sharp corners that it gives doing it that way.

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  5. This looks wonderful, however, as a complete and utter noob to pie-making I was just wondering for how long this pie crust should be in the oven and at what temperature?

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  6. SORRY!! I'll add that to the recipe...

    If you are pre-baking it for a cream pie or lemon meringue or no-bake cheesecake...

    Prick the crust in the plate all over with a fork. This will allow the steam to escape and it won't puff up.

    Bake at 350 for about 15 minutes, or until the crimped edge is starting to turn golden. Allow to cool completely if using a cold filling.

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  7. Mmmmm mmm. Good stuff! The dough is very sticky. I found it easier to form a ball without overworking by placing it in a mass on the plastic wrap then using that to squeeze/shape into a ball. Chilling helps with the stickiness, although it took on a bit of flour on the board when I rolled it out. It's very humid down here where I am.

    I've read that vinegar helps make the dough more tender. That and egg got me interested in trying your recipe. This went lovely with apple pie, it was flexible enough for lattice topping, and quite good on its own (your pie crust cookies will have to wait, the scraps never stood a chance!)

    There was a slight strange taste to my crust when it was all said and done...anything with filling was fine, but the crust on the edge I didn't care for as much.

    For pie-noobs, most recipes call for 350 to 450F, but it depends more on the filling than the crust. Mine called for 15 at 400, then 30 at 325, then 400 for 15. Just keep an eye on it.

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  8. This is so beautiful :) You're a star at crimping!

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  9. I am a newbie with cooking and am wondering do I need to use all purpose or self rising flour? ...please don't laugh if that's a dumb question....

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    1. I'm so sorry I didn't see this comment until now!
      For pie crust you use regular all purpose. The self-rising will cause it to puff up when baked instead of laying flat and smooth under the filling. No such thing as a dumb question!!

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  10. is it okay if I use a mixer instead of food processor?

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    1. I would be afraid the mixer would warm up the shortening too much and mix it in like a batter instead of leaving it in little pea-sized chunks! I use a fork most of the time and "mash" the shortening into the flour. This gives more control. Takes a few minutes, but is very worth it!

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  11. What do you mean by shortening chunks? Can I just scoop it out of the tub? Or use butter?

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    1. Yes, scoop the shortening out of the container into a measuring cup. Then I mash it with a fork to make pea-sized chunks. Butter is okay, but the shortening makes a flakier crust!

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    2. Ah! Ok. Thank you! Can't wait to try it! I've never made a pie crust before.

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  12. if 1/4 of the crust "ball" makes 1 pie top or 1 pie bottom, this recipe is enough for TWO FULL pies (2 tops and 2 bottoms)??

    I just want to make sure, I only enough enough for 1 top and 1 bottom. :)

    This looks amazing. I'll let you know how it turns out. :)

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  13. It will make two double-crust pies, or four single-crust pies. (8-inch pie plates give you a taller crimped edge. 9-inch works, but you will have a shorter edge.)

    I just made it today for my pumpkin pies - each with only a bottom crust, of course. The rest became the pie crust cookies!

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  14. I have never made a pie crust before, but this one sounds good. Should the shortening and/or vinegar be chilled? Would that help to keep it from heating up?

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    1. I use the shortening and vinegar room temp and it's fine. Using ice water will help!

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