Monday, January 5, 2009

Flaky Pie Crust

My mom is an expert pie maker. I believe she learned this recipe from a roommate while in college. Pie crust can be tricky, but really isn't hard once you get it down.
2 cups flour
3/4 c shortening
1/4 c cold butter
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp sugar
1/3 c cold water
Sift dry ingredients and cut shortening and butter into flour until dough resembles corn meal. One of the tricks to pie crust is having your ingredients cold. I often use frozen butter.

I love to use my food processor. It makes the process so much easier. Just pulse several times until it looks similar to the picture above. But, if you don't have a food processor, don't despair, my mom has never used one for crust, a fork or pastry cutter also works.

Add water a little at a time, pulsing just until dough starts to stick together. You want to mix as little as possible after adding the water, or you'll end up with a tough crust.
Divide dough in half. Roll the dough out onto a floured piece of waxed paper. Use your pie plate to make sure you've rolled it big enough, leaving extra for it to fit down inside the pie plate. Turn the dough over into the pie plate and gently remove the wax paper. Trim the dough just over the edges of the pie plate, then shape the edges with your fingers. If you're going to bake the crust without filling, poke holes all over the crust with a fork. Bake at 375 for about 20 minutes or until golden brown. Makes 2 crusts (unless you ruin one or both).
This takes a little practice. Don't give up if it doesn't always work. If your crust doesn't look presentable, DON"T try to roll it out again. The less you work with the dough, the better it will taste. Even though I've been making pies for years, I still ruin crusts occasionally, like the one pictured below. When that happens, I just dump the whole thing onto a baking sheet, sprinkle with sugar and cinnamon, and bake it. The kids (and I) think it's a great treat.

Failure isn't all bad.

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