Thursday, November 20, 2008

Homemade Pie Crust

When you have a food processor, making a homemade pie crust is so easy it's sinful. You can still make it without one of course - it just takes a bit of extra work.
When you have a food processor, making a homemade pie crust is so easy it's sinful. You can still make it without one of course - it just takes a bit of extra work.

Homemade Pie Crust


I know some of you love the pat in the pan pie crust because it's so easy. You just stir the ingredients right into the pie plate and then press it in. It forms a crumbly crust and probably works best for cream pies, which help it hold together, but frankly, I've tried them and have to say that I am not a fan. Maybe I'm just a pastry snob, but when I go to the trouble of making a scratch pie, I want a pie crust that is tender, crisp and flaky and the pat in the pan versions of pie crust just don't give that result.

Sometimes referred to as Pâté Brisée, though that actually requires using butter, I prefer using pure lard or a good vegetable shortening instead. Butter is so tender and melts so easily with any heat and that heat will totally destroy the flakiness. I just find that lard or vegetable shortening holds up so much better, although some folks like to use a combination of butter and shortening.

The #1 secret I can pass on for a perfect flaky pie crust, like a great biscuit, is to use COLD COLD COLD ingredients! Plan ahead and put the flour, along with the shortening or lard, in a covered container and put it in your freezer for several hours.


This recipe is written for using a food processor because I own one and let me tell you, this is one of the best uses for that machine, well next to the dicing attachment, because I really love that! It just makes it such an easy process of making pie dough, and it takes seconds so you'll wonder why you keep buying prepared pie dough - not that there's a thing wrong with that, I do too sometimes!

Using the regular steel blade, place the flour, shortening and salt in food processor.


Pulse 5 or 6 times until it looks mealy.


Add water to a measuring cup and place ice cubes in the water so that it is very cold. With machine running on low, add the vinegar first, if using, then begin to add the water, in a steady stream about a tablespoon at a time through the tube, just until dough begins to gather around the blade - usually only about 10 seconds, rarely more than 30 seconds – you don’t want to over-process. The little crumbles you see here, I just gather up with the dough.


Remove dough from the machine, make a ball and then press into a thick disc – like a giant burger- two discs if you made the double recipe.


Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate it for at least an hour before rolling it out. The cold will help to keep the fats intact, resulting in a nice flake, but it's helpful if you do let it rest a bit before trying to roll it out. By the way, those dispensers like the one in the background? If you don't have one, get one. After continuously getting cut on those package blades I did and I have no idea why I waited so long!


This dough may also be made several days in advance and stored in the fridge till needed, or frozen. Allow 2 to 3 hours for thawing before rolling out.

By the way, if you don't own a food processor, of course you can still make a homemade pie crust by hand, you'll just need a little extra elbow grease. I've included some basic guidelines in the recipe.


Recipe: Homemade Pie Crust

©From the Kitchen of Deep South Dish
Prep time: 10 min |Inactive time: 1 hour | Yield: 1 or 2 crusts

Ingredients

Single Pie Crust
  • 1-1/2 cups of all purpose flour, chilled
  • 1/2 cup of lard or vegetable shortening, chilled
  • 1/2 teaspoon of kosher salt
  • 4 to 8 tablespoons of iced water
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons of white or cider vinegar, optional
Double Pie Crust
  • 2 cups of all purpose flour, chilled
  • 2/3 cups of lard or vegetable shortening, chilled
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 5 to 10 tablespoons of iced water
  • 1 tablespoon of white or cider vinegar, optional
Instructions

Using the regular steel blade, place the flour, shortening and salt in food processor and pulse 5 or 6 times until it looks mealy. With machine running slowly, add the vinegar first, if using, then begin to add the water in a steady stream through the tube, just until dough begins to gather around the blade, about 10 seconds, but never more than 30 seconds – you don’t want to over-process. You may not need all of the water – you don’t want your dough to be wet or sticky to the touch. The dough should hold together when squeezed. If your dough is crumbly, it needs more water; add in a tablespoon at a time.

Remove dough from the machine, make a ball and then press into a thick disc – like a giant burger- two discs if you made the double recipe. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill in the fridge for about 1 hour before rolling out. Can also be made several days in advance and stored in the fridge till needed, or frozen. Allow 2 to 3 hours for thawing before rolling out.

Let dough rest at room temperature for 10 minutes, then roll the dough out on a lightly floured piece of waxed paper, and sprinkle a tiny bit of flour on top of the dough disk. Use a light forward motion only when rolling (don’t rock the rolling pin back and forth - roll only in one direction) but periodically lift and turn the dough to prevent sticking and to keep it circular in shape. Add a bit more flour to the surface only if necessary. Roll out to about 2 inches larger than the pie plate, about 1/8 of an inch thick.

Gently roll the dough up around the rolling pin, or simply fold it over to make it easier to transport to the pie plate. Position and unroll or unfold, carefully molding from the inside of the pie plate to the edges. Trim excess dough with kitchen shears and either flute the edges by using the forefinger of one hand and pinching the dough next to it between your forefinger and thumb of the other hand and continuing around the crust, or simply take the rolling pin and roll firmly across the top to trim. Finish as directed in your recipe, as to pre-bake or not.

Cook's Notes: Substitute half cold vegetable shortening and half cold unsalted butter.

To Make by Hand: To make a pie pastry by hand, first use a large glass or metal bowl and chill it in and any kitchen utensils you'll be using (pastry cutter, fork, etc.) in your freezer before starting. A larger bowl will minimize the splash out of flour. Using a pastry cutter, or two butter knives, cut the fat into the flour. It'll take you about 5 minutes. Once it gets mealy, or like small peas, then add in the salt. Use the pastry blender or a fork to start mixing in the vinegar if using, and the iced water. Continue adding water and using the pastry blender to work it in until dough is shaggy. Gather the dough together - if it's still too crumbly, add a bit more water. Gently shape the dough into a disk, taking care not to handle it too much, wrap with plastic wrap and refrigerate.

Blind Baking: If your pie requires a pre-baked crust, dock the crust before baking using the tines of a fork to poke holes all around the bottom of the crust. This will prevent the crust from bubbling. You can also line the crust with parchment paper or aluminum foil and fill the foil with pie weights. Bake at 350 degrees F for about 15 minutes, remove paper or foil and cook another 5 minutes, or until crust is dry, but not browned. Allow crust to cool before filling and proceed with recipe.

To Freeze: Prepare crust all the way to forming into a disk. Wrap tightly with plastic wrap and freeze in disk form inside freezer bags. Allow 2 to 3 hours for thawing before rolling out dough. For best quality, use within two months.

Why Vinegar? Add in an acid, like white or cider vinegar, or lemon juice with your pie crust. The acid, in combination with the fat, creates a reaction to help shorten the gluten strands that are formed when combining water and flour. Scientific facts aside, it will simply result in a more tender, flaky crust. For the one crust use 1-1/2 teaspoons; for the two crust, use a tablespoon.

Source: http://deepsouthdish.com

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Posted by on November 20, 2008

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