Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Easy As Pie: Pie Crust

I used to think my method was kind of cheating, taking the easy way out. Then I saw a pie maker on Bobby Flay's Throwdown do it and I knew I was in good company. It is not cheating, it is simply smart. This method allows you to have a positively flaky crust because you add no extra flour for rolling AND you don't overwork the pastry.

Here are a few ground rules for pie crust:
Butter = firm & crumbly
Shortening = flaky and light
Over mixing = tough crust

I know, I know: shortening? I use shortening for only two things in this world: pie crust and buttercream frosting that will be piped on a cake. Sorry, but even the Culinary Institute of America, which promised no-trans fats on campus, had to make an exception to that. There is simply no way to achieved the right texture with either of those without the dreaded shortening. Luckily Crisco has a no-trans fat formula so we can live with ourselves.

This will make one 9 inch bottom crust:

1 1/2 cups flour
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup butter-flavored Crisco
3-4 Tbsp cold water

This will make one 9 inch double crust:

2 1/4 cups flour
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup butter-flavored Crisco
6-7 Tbsp cold water

Combine flour and salt in a mixing bowl and toss together. Drop in the Crisco.

With your hands, blend the ingredients together, working quickly until you have a mixture that looks like bread crumbs. Sprinkle on the water, just 1 Tbsp at a time. Continue mixing with your hands.

Add just enough water for the dough to come together as one mass.

Take two pieces of wax paper that are square. Put the dough in between.

Roll out and continually adjust the wax paper and dough. Use the pie plate as your guide and try to keep it as round as possible. You should have about two inches wider than the pie plate all the way around. Pull one piece on wax paper off, replace. Flip.

Pull the other side off.

Put down the pie pan and flip both over so the pie crust is in the pan.

Pull the top wax paper off and use you fingers to fit it the pan.

Trim off the excess crust around the tin.

Prick several (by several, I mean go nuts) fork holes into the sides and bottom. This will keep the crust from becoming soggy. You can also brush it with an egg wash at this point. Sometimes I do, sometimes I forget. But if you prick enough holes, you shouldn't HAVE to.

For a single crust, decorate the edges and trim. If it should be pre-baked, baked for 15-20 minutes, keeping an eye on it at 425 degrees.

For the double crust, fill it and them repeat he same procedure with the next crust and set on top. Pressing the top and bottom crust together and decorate and trim. Follow the individual recipe for temperature and baking times.

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