Friday, November 14, 2008

How to Make Flaky Pie Crust

Confession: I used to think making pie dough was intimidating. My grandma and my dad both make good pie crust, and I was content to let them bake the pies . . . but then I moved away from home and realized if I wanted a pie with good crust, I'd have to learn to make my own. Trust me, it's not difficult - with a little practice, you'll be an expert before you know it.

Before we get started, I need to make one important point: this is a flaky pie crust, not a pretty pie crust. I'm sure there are experts out there capable of making flaky and pretty pie crust, but for the rest of us . . . we'll just focus on flaky pie crust.

Step 1: Gather all your equipment and ingredients, and get your counter top prepared.
Equipment note: I roll out my pie dough on a silpat (silicone baking mat), but there are lots of alternatives if you don't have one: wax paper, parchment paper, pastry cloth, etc. Which rolling pin to use? I like the plain, cheap, wooden French rolling pin
(I have three rolling pins - including a fancy nonstick silicone type - but the simple one is the best).

Step 2: Cut 1 cup butter and 1 cup Crisco into cubes; place in the freezer for at least 20 minutes. This will prevent melting, thus resulting in tender, flaky crust.
Step 3: Measure 3 cups all-purpose flour and 1 tsp. salt into a food processor (or bowl if you don't have a food processor). Add butter and Crisco; pulse until crumbly and pieces are slightly larger than peas. I press "pulse" 20-25 times, but it could vary. Equipment note: If you don't have a food processor, use a large mixing bowl and a pastry blender for this step. Step 4: Transfer to a large mixing bowl:
Step 5: Pour about 3/4 of the milk into the bowl. Toss with fingers until combined. Add remaining milk to moisten dry particles at the bottom of the bowl, if necessary. The amount of liquid you need varies, depending on the temperature, humidity, and whatever additional strange cosmic forces affect pie dough. Step 6: When all ingredients are combined, divide dough in half, cover tightly with plastic wrap, and refrigerate at least 30 minutes. Step 7: Remove dough from the refrigerator; allow dough to stand at room temperature a few moments. Begin to shape it into a large disc:Step 8: Generously flour your work surface. Keep additional flour nearby for dusting dough, rolling pin, and work surface. Step 9: Roll dough out to desired thickness and size (be sure to flour rolling pin and top of dough, possibly several times). Keep pie plate nearby to help gauge size; you want dough to be about 2" (diameter) larger than your pie plate. Note: yes, there are chunks of fat in the dough - this is important - it creates the flakiness!Step 10: Pick up silpat (wax paper, etc.) and invert on top of pie plate, gently release dough from silpat. Gently press dough into pan; crimp edges with fingers. Note: sometimes it is helpful to place the pie pan full of dough into the refrigerator for 15-20 minutes before crimping the edges, especially on a hot day. Viola! A homemade pie crust, sure to bake up flaky and delicious!

Flaky Pie Crust
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. salt
1 cup butter
1 cup Crisco
2/3 cup milk

Combine flour and salt in a bowl. Cut in butter and shortening until they are in pieces about 1/2-inch square. Pour 3/4 of (2/3 cup) milk in and toss with fingers to combine. Add remaining milk to moisten dry particles at the bottom of the bowl as necessary. Cover and refrigerate at least 30 minutes before rolling out. Makes 2 crusts.
- Recipe adapted from Bon Appetit

What kind of pie are you going to make? Check out my Chocolate Chess Pie and Apple Pie!

P.S. Mom - now you have illustrated instructions!

1 comment:

Leah said...

I have the same rolling pin...and I LOVE my silpat! They are so great! Thanks for the recipe...I think it looks pretty darn cute!