Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Pie Crust

I had a request to share our pie recipes, but I thought I'd start with first things first:

Pie Crust
I just started using my food processor the last couple times I've made pies.  For decades, I've depended on a wire pastry blender.  (I think the kind with solid sides are worthless, since I use the sides as much as the bottom/center.)  I was afraid of overworking the dough with the food processor, but find it makes a crust that is just as flaky, but easier to handle.  My grandma used to say that the more difficult the dough is to handle (delicate), the better the crust is.  But that doesn't seem to be true with food processor mixed dough.  I think it's because it allows the butter to stay colder, since it can cut in rock hard butter, while with the pastry blender, I needed the butter to be a little softer.                                                                                 
For 2 single-crust pies, or 1 double crust, put in food processor and blend with standard blade:
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp salt                                                                                                                                                        
13 Tablespoons (13 ounces) cold butter 
into several small pieces and drop into the flour.  I drop in half, pulse the food processor a few times, then add the remaining pieces.  Pulse just until the butter is mixed through the flour, but still in approximately 1/4 inch pieces.  Some may be smaller, and some may be a little bit larger.                                                                                                                                                                                                                               
Pour in gradually 
6 Tablespoons (3/8 cup) cold water
Pulse/mix just until all is moistened and you can form a ball of dough.                                                                                                                        
Divide in 2 pieces and roll out to approximately 1/8 inch thick and roundish to fit in a 9 or 10 inch pie plate.  (I like glass pie plates.) Fold gently in half to take to pie plate, then unfold and form to shape of the pan.  Trim crust to 1/2 inch larger than the pie plate.                                                                                                         
For a single crust pie, tuck the edge under until even or just barely beyond the edge.  You can leave it plain, or make the edge fancier by fluting or other methods to give a pattern to it.  Redbook Magazine has an excellent video on Youtube showing different options: Decorative Pie Edges by redbookmag                                                                        
Decorative Pie Edges by redbookmag
on Youtube.com
              I flute mine, using my left thumb and index finger from the outside edge, hold them against the crust, and push crust into them with my right index finger.                                                      
For a double crust, leave the 1/2 inch overhang of crust until you fill the pie and put the top on (make slits in the center of the top for steam to escape).  Then trim the top crust similarly, press the edges together and turn under together, and flute as described above.                                                                            
If, as for Lemon Meringue Pie, the crust needs to be partially pre-baked, let the crust rest in the pie plate for at least 10 minutes, prick several times with a fork to keep bubbles from forming, then bake in oven preheated to 350 degrees, or 325 degrees if using a glass pan, for 12 minutes.  It should just barely start to brown, if at all.  -Some people use various types of pie weights to keep the crust from slumping down or bubbling, but I've never had any and find that the resting and proper pricking works.  Sometimes they will still bubble up, but some further pricking helps (taking care to not tear large holes), and they usually settle back into place as they cool.                                                                        
If, as for Banana Cream Pie, the crust needs to be fully baked before filling, leave in for a few minutes more until very lightly browned.

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