Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Celebrating National Pie Day with some Pie Crust Tips

Whether you like your pies sweet or savory, tomorrow is the day to savor your slice... it's National Pie Day.

I have fond memories of my Mom making pie crusts. With her big bowl and two butter knives, she would sit and cut the butter into her flour. klack, klack went the knives.

I have mentioned before that I didn't grow up in a cake household. Our dessert of choice was definately pie. From her cream pies to fruit pies, it gave me a great appreciation for the skill and talent involved in making a simple flaky crust.

And let's be honest... it is the crust that intimidates the novice pie maker, right?

The choices are out there. Use butter? Use shortening? Or dare I say, lard?

Then what about the flour? And how do you prefer to cut the fat into your flour? Knives, like my Mom or a pastry cutter? How about a food processor?

Here are my tools of choice. I like to use a big Pyrex mixing bowl, either my pastry cutter or butter knives, ice water and a rolling pin. Some things I think make crust making easier are waxed paper to put between the rolling pin and my dough, as well as a good surface to roll on. The Roul'pat has been a joy to use for rolling out pastry dough, but it isn't essential.

Now, make sure everything you are working with is nice and cold. From the fat you choose to the water, keeping things cold will create nice pockets of fat. That will give you the flaky crust you want.

Then grab your knives to slice across the chunks of fat (butter or shortening).

Either method works well. I still have to admit after years of slicing in the butter, it goes faster for me.

Leave nice large (pea-sized) peices of butter or shortening.

Then add in the ice water, 1 tablespoon at a time, till the dough just begins to hold it's shape. You still want it to be a dry and flaky dough.

Before rolling I like to chill the dough. Just wrap up the disc and let it "chill out" for a half an hour or more.

Since I don't want to add more flour to the dough than necessary, I roll out my dough between wax paper. In this case the Roul'pat is enough for the bottom. Roll out just larger than your pie dish.

Now you can either fill your pie shell and get it ready to bake, or you can prick the bottom and blind bake the crust to prepare it for filling. I went ahead and rolled out another crust for the top of my Marrionberry pie and then blind baked the crust for my Quiche.

So, are you ready to tackle your own pie crust for National Pie Day?

Here is my favorite butter pie crust. It goes very well with a berry pie and a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

Basic Pie Crust Recipe
You Will Need:
2 sticks of butter (1 c.) chilled
2 1/2 c. flour
1/2 tsp. salt
4 - 5 Tbsp. ice water (as needed to bring together the dough)

Whisk together the flour and salt. Cut the chilled butter into small cubes and cut into the flour. Use two butter knives in a criss-cross motion to cut through the butter, or use a pastry cutter. Leave the chunks of butter in pea-sized balls. Then a tablespoon at a time, add in the ice water. Stir with a fork and only add enough water for the dough to come together in a ball.

Then form into a disk, wrap and chill for a half an hour.

Brush with a little egg white or milk wash for a golden and shiny crust when baked.

Create your pie and bake as directed depending on your filling.


What would you put in your pie crust?

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