Pie: Making the Pie Pastry

29 10 2010

Continuing on with our Food Friday Pie feature, now you’ve got your ingredients all ready, it’s time to make that pie crust!

  • My number one tip here: measure carefully. I know, I can certainly be a throw in a little of this kind of cook myself, but a little too much flour here causes a heavy crust. Too much liquid can make it shrink. Too much shortening makes it crumbly or greasy. Measure exact amounts.
  • After combining the dry ingredients in a bowl, cut the fat into your blend with two knives. It’s the tiny pockets of shortening or butter that make it crisp. Don’t over mix. Stop just as it becomes coarse crumbly.
  • Touch the dough as little as possible with your hands. It’s fine if your fat are as large as pea-sized. The more your fingers touch the dough, your body heat melts the fat and toughens up that crust.
  • Sprinkle in your water or liquid to the dough as gradually as possible (a tablespoon at a time is ideal). Toss gently until it just holds together. Again, the more your work any sort of dough, the tougher it gets.
  • Turn your mixture over onto one piece of plastic wrap. Fold your edges over and make a disk. Refrigerate for 30 minutes up to 4 days.
  • If you must use your food processor, don’t over process. Pulse to combine just until it begins to gather on the blades. Once this happens, treat your dough like you would hand-processed by turning it out onto your plastic wrap and continue.
  • For an easy alternative to pie crust, use a store bought cookie dough. As always, avoid overworking the dough, but you can add variety here by purchasing sugar dough, chocolate chip cookie dough, whichever kind you wish. Make sure to prick the dough before baking.

Crumb Crusts

  • Grease your pan for crumb crusts well.
  • If you enjoy a graham cracker or cookie-crumb crust, try substituting half of the crumbs with Ritz-style crackers for a tempered sweetness.
  • Whenever using cookies, such as Oreas, crush with the filling, then combine with 3 tablespoons melted butter to press into your pan so the cookies remain stuck together.
  • Pack your crumbs firmly to avoid crumbling. Use the back of a spoon or rubber spatula. Wrap your hand in plastic wrap or bag and press those crumbs into place! You can also press down with another pie plate.
  • If you prebake your pie crumbs for 10 minutes, this will help ensure your crust remains crisp, but be sure to completely cook before filling.
  • After chilling your pie, soak a dishtowel in hot water and wrap it around the base to keep your crumb crust from sticking to the pan.

Now, we’re ready to roll out our dough…

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