Tuesday, November 16, 2010
Flaky Buttery Pie Crust
Makes one double-crust 9 inch or 10 inch pie:
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
2 Tablespoons sugar
3/4 cup (a stick and a half) unsalted butter, chilled, cut into 1/4 inch cubes
1/2 cup of all-vegetable shortening (8 Tbsp)
6-8 Tablespoons ice water
Combine flour, salt, and sugar in a chilled bowl. Add the butter and using a pastry cutter or 2 table knives (cut with a criss cross motion through the butter and dry ingredients). Add shortening in tablespoon sized chunks, and continue to cut through the mixture. The mixture should resemble coarse cornmeal, with butter bits no bigger than peas. Sprinkle 6 tablespoons of ice water over flour mixture. Cutting again through the mixture. If you pinch some of the crumbly dough and it holds together, it's ready. If the dough doesn't hold together, keep adding water, a tablespoon at a time, cutting through after each addition, until the mixture just begins to clump together.
Remove dough from bowl and place in a mound on a clean surface. Divide the dough into 2 balls and flatten each into 4 inch wide disks. Do not over-knead the dough! Dust the disks lightly with flour, wrap each in plastic, and refrigerate for at least an hour, or up to 2 days before rolling out.
After the dough has chilled in the refrigerator for an hour, you can take it out to roll. If it is too stiff, you can let it sit for 5-10 minutes at room temperature before rolling. Sprinkle a little flour on a flat, clean work surface and on top of the disk of dough you intend to roll out. (A pre marked pastry rolling sheet that has the pie circles already marked is handy.) Using a rolling pin, apply light pressure while rolling outwards from the center of the dough. Every once in a while you may need to gently lift under the dough (a pastry scraper works great for this) to make sure it is not sticking. You have a big enough piece of dough when you place the pie tin or pie dish upside down on the dough and the dough extends by at least 2 inches all around.
When the dough has reached the right size, gently fold it in half. Lift up the dough and place it so that the folded edge is along the center line of the pie dish. Gently unfold. Do not stretch the dough.
If you are only making a single crust pie, use kitchen scissors to trim the dough to within 1/2 inch of the lip of the dish. Tuck the overhang underneath itself along the edge of the pie dish. Use your fingers in a pinching motion, or the tines of a fork to crimple the edge of the pie crust.
If you are making a double crust pie, roll out the second disk of dough. Gently place onto the top of the filling in the pie. Use a kitchen scissors to trim the overhang to an inch over. Fold the edge of the top piece of dough over and under the edge of the bottom piece of dough, pressing together. Finish the double crust by pressing against the edges of the pie with your finger tips or with a fork.
Use a sharp knife to cut vents into the top of the pie crust, so the steam has a place to escape while the pie is cooking. Optional Before scoring, you may want to paint the top of your crust with an egg wash (this will make a nice glossy sugary finish).
A glossy sugary coating for your pie can be achieved with a simple egg wash.
1 Tbsp heavy cream, half and half, or milk
1 large egg yolk
Beat egg yolk with cream and brush on the surface of the pie with a pastry brush. Sprinkle a dusting of granulated sugar over the top. Bake as directed.