Monday, October 19, 2009

Fall Pie Primer, Part One: Crust

A good crust is one of the best tricks you can have up your sleeve in the kitchen. I wrote about pie crust last year and my feelings on the subject haven't changed. I thought I'd bring it up again, though, because it is getting to be that time of year again and some poor souls might be eyeing the freezer aisle. Don't do it! You're going to be making your own pumpkin purée, peeling all those apples, making your own mincemeat, so why would you buy a pre-made pie crust. You wouldn't. I know.

Pie Crust

10-inch double crust

  • 2 2/3 cups flour
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 cup butter, cold
  • 7-8 Tbs. water, very cold
  • Combine flour and salt.
  • Cut butter into pieces and drop into flour mixture. Using a pastry cutter or your fingers, work the butter into flour until butter is well incorporated, but there are still visible pieces of butter. (Recipes often say, 'until mixture resembles small peas,' but I like to leave slightly larger pieces.)
  • Using a fork, stir in water one tablespoon at a time, being careful not to add too much. When dough begins to from clumps, enough water has been added.
  • Form the dough into a ball. The dough might be somewhat crumbly, but as long as you can make it into a ball it will be alright. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate at least half an hour before rolling.
I had a bit of a mishap last week: I thought I had a 9-inch pan so made the recipe for an 8 to 9-inch double crust. Unfortunately it was a 10-inch pan. It is no fun trying to eke an extra inch out of too little dough and then having none leftover to decorate the top of the pie. So from now on I'm making enough for a 10-inch pan regardless of what size pie plate I actually have. Wasteful? Maybe, but in this instance I don't care. There is always something to be done with leftover pie dough, but don't make me cobble together another pie without enough.

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