Monday, October 12, 2015

Homemade Pie Crust

My love of pie started with my grandmother. When making a pie, she filled the leftover crust remnants with fruit filling (often apple) and twisted it up to form a dumpling. With more crust than a traditional piece of pie, we ate the dumpling in a bowl topped with milk.

While I don't often make those sweet dumplings today, I do make lots of pies. Fruit, cream, nut, even savory pies frequently appear on our table. I didn't start making pies until my late twenties when I realized good pies were hard to come by and if I wanted one, I'd have to make it.

The best crusts, both tender and flaky, are a combination of two fats. I typically use shortening, and since we process a hog each year, a bit of lard. If that doesn't sit well with you, consider using a combination of shortening and butter.

This recipe is a combination of several recipes. I've used it for years and find it nearly foolproof, easy and delicious. The pastry is easier to roll if it's refrigerated for 30 minutes before using, but depending on time, I often use it as soon as it's made.

This recipe makes one crust. For a double-crust pie, double the ingredients and roll half the dough for each crust. If your recipe calls for a pre-baked pastry, place crust in pie plate and line with a sheet of parchment paper. Fill crust with dried beans (or, omit paper and beans and thoroughly dock crust with the tines of a fork). Bake in a 425 degree oven for 10-12 minutes.

Combine flour and salt. Cut in fat. Add water, shape into
a disk, wrap in plastic and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Roll crust on a liberally floured surface. Roll from the center out to keep crust even thickness.

Place in pie plate: Make sure crust loosened from counter by
running a spatula under dough.  Flip half of dough over rolling pin.

Lift dough using pin. Place in pin in center of pie plate. Unroll pastry into plate.  

Gently push dough into corners of the plate. 

Trim dough and flute edges. Use in recipe.

Pie Pastry
Makes one crust for 9 inch pie
1 cup flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/3 cup shortening plus 1 Tbsp lard
3-4 Tbsp cold water

Combine flour and salt. Cut in shortening until you have a mix of large and small pieces of fat. Add water, 1 Tbsp at a time just until dough comes together. Do not overmix. Shape dough into a disk, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes. Roll dough, place in pie plate and use in recipe.

A note about using a food processor to make pastry: I prefer a pastry blender, rather than a food processor to cut in the fat. Pastry that's made in a food processor can be easily over processed, developing a texture of fine sand. An over processed crust will be mealy rather than flaky.

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