Wednesday, November 23, 2016

The Ulitmate Pie Crust Recipe

Today is the day I make pies for Thanksgiving. This time of year I usually get a few calls or a texts from friends and family asking me for my pie crust recipe. I know it by heart and I love the chance to catch up with everyone. But I’ve had lots of requests that I write it down somewhere, which is kind of a good idea because I don’t actually have it written anywhere. The original recipe came from a December issue of Fine Cooking (love that magazine) sometime around the year 2000 but I’ve long lost my copy. I don’t know how far I’ve veered from the original recipe in the last 15 years, but I don’t really care because this recipe always delivers.

Is there a better pie crust out there? Possibly. But there isn’t a tastier, flakier crust that’s this easy to make. This recipe is so forgiving. You can use a KitchenAid mixer or your hands, use salted or unsalted butter, add sugar or leave it out. Even if you over mix, it always turns out fabulous.

Double Crust Recipe

2 ¼ cups flour
¼ cup sugar
½ teaspoon salt
2 Sticks cold butter (cut into 1 inch cubes)
¼  cup ice water

Okay, for all you experienced bakers that’s probably all you need. Go make pie!

Now for the rest of you, here’s the step by step instructions.

1.     Mix flour, sugar and salt together in a KitchenAid Mixer with paddle attachment (or whisk dry ingredients in a bowl. You could be all fancy and sift them but it’s not necessary.)  If you are making a savory pie like quiche, you may choose to leaves the sugar out. I usually do. But if you a new to handling pie crust you may want to keep the sugar in because it really makes the dough more manageable and sugar isn’t overpowering. Some people prefer a slightly sweet crust.

2.      Add COLD butter This is the only slightly fussy part of this pie recipe. It works so much better if the butter is COLD. That said, I’ve made it with room temperature butter and it still makes a pretty decent crust. But it’s so much easier to work with if the butter is COLD. Also, I’m certain the original recipe called for unsalted butter but it doesn’t really matter much. If I only have salted butter on had I just decrease the salt. (To tell the truth I often forget the salt. It is better with salt but even without salt this crust is superior to 94% of crust out there.) But you must use butter! To make this recipe with anything other than butter would be a travesty. If you do something so foolish please don’t expect it to taste good. (I know there are legions of misguided souls who believe Crisco or lard make a flakier crust but the gains in flakiness do not make up for the significant loss in flavor.)

3.     Mix the butter in until the largest bits are about pea size. (or mix in by hand.)

Honestly, I think hand mixing makes the most delectable pie crust. But it’s kind of messy and takes more time. I only use my hands when I’m at a VRBO without a good mixer. I used to own a pastry cutter but really hands works so much better.

4.     Add ice cold water.

5.     Mix until dough forms a ball.

6.     Divide ball in two.

7.     Form dough into round disks. This is another place inexperienced pie makers mess up. Make sure your disk has smooth edges. Because when you roll it out even a pretty small dent can turn into a big split.

8.     Roll out dough. Everyone has their favorite way to roll out pie crust. This is mine: a tea cloth, a wooden rolling pin and a flour shaker.

I shake flour on the tea cloth and then on the dough. I rotate the disk between rolls and flip it over. Every time I flip the dough I shake more flour on. In general too much flour makes a pie crust less flaky and delicious.

But since this is such a forgiving recipe you can be fairly generous with the flour. Continue till you reach the desired diameter.

It doesn't have to be a perfect circle to work.

9.     Fold crust in half and transfer to pie tin.  If for some reason your crust is too sticky, you can use the tea towel to transfer the crust. Just flip it over on top of the pie tin. Sorry, I don't have a picture of this method but it has saved me many times.

10. Unfold and crimp the edges by hand.

11. Freeze the crust for later use or at the very least let it chill in the fridge or freezer while you prepare the filling.

12. Bake the pie according to directions. 

Happy Thanksgiving!

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