With Fall on our heels, it’s time to find that pie crust recipe that year after year you said you were going to tackle. Then everytime you’re ready, the phone rings, the mailman’s at the door (do they still do that?), or the kids need help with their homework (you should still do that!). Any reason was a good reason not to attempt the obvious. This year is going to be different. You’re going to create a love affair with your pie crust. This year, I’m going to give you a pie crust that is so easy to make, everyone will want you to make the holiday pies. Then and only then, you will probably regret this post but it will soon pass and before you know it, you’re opening your own bakery. Okay, not so fast but always a possibility.
There are so many different types of crust for various pies. This will be an all around easy to make blue ribbon winner. Actually, it has won awards. You can use this for quiche, fruit pies, cream pies, turnovers, tart shells, crostadas…The list goes on.
For those of you who are gluten free, the directions are exactly the same except you will substitute GF all-purpose flour for the traditional all-purpose plus add xanthan. I’ll include that in the recipe.
This basic but incredible recipe can be made by hand, in a Kitchen Aid with the pastry hook (looks like a “J”) attachment or in a Cuisinart style food processor.
Here’s the recipe that will make Four 10″ pie crusts.
3 cups of all-purpose flour (or pastry flour)
1 cup (2 sticks) Cabot unsalted butter, cold, cut into small cubes
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup very cold water
*Gf readers: 3 cup GF all-purpose flour plus 3/4 teaspoon xanthan gum
1. By hand:
Place the flour, salt and butter in a bowl. Using a fork or a pastry cutter, break the butter up until the mixture resembles cornmeal
Place the dry ingredients in the mixing bowl. Add the butter and mix on low until the mixture resembles cornmeal.
Place all of the dry ingredients and the butter in the processor. Using the pulse button, press with quick pulses until the mixture resembles cornmeal. This is the quickest method.
2. Slowly add the water until almost all of the dry ingredients are absorbed. It should still look alittle dry because you will form the dough balls withy your hands. The warmth of your hands will bring the dough together. You want to be very gentle with pie dough because once the gluten forms (what gives the dough its stretch), it can become tough.
3. Divide the dough into 4 balls. Wrap in plastic and let set in the fridge for about an hour. You can even make these the day before. Just pull them a half an hour before you’re ready to roll it.
4, Place some flour on the counter (clean ofcourse). I only use about 3 tablespoons of flour at a time. Because you’re rolling the dough on flour, you’re adding more flour into your dough so don’t roll it into a handful of flour. Gentle. We need to be gentle. Gentle equals a light flaky crust.
5. Roll into a 10″ round for a 9″ pie pan. Lay the bottom crust down on a sprayed with non stick spray pie pan and prepare the top.
I always cook my fruit fillings the day before so they are cool and ready to fill. Never put a warm filling of any kind into a fresh rolled out crust. The advantages to making your filling ahead of time are well worth the effort. You know what the filling will taste like before you bake it so no surprises. The consistency is exactly what you want it to be so again, no surprises. All you have to do is brown the crust which takes about 40 minutes. You eliminate that horrible dome with the huge air pocket when you cut into an apple pie. By cooking your pie filling, that will never happen. That in itself is well worth it! Plus, and this is a big plus, any filling you have leftover makes incredible ice cream sundaes or a quick parfait with vanilla sponge cake (aka Genoise).
Crimping the edges is as individual as snowflakes. It’s whatever work for you.Be sure to fold the top crust under the bottom crust along the edges and then pinch them together. I brush my top crust with an eggwash (1 egg plus 1 tablespoon of water). Then I take extra dough strips and cut our really cute designs. Ever wonder what to do with all of those mini cookie cutters?? Place those little guys on your crusts. Cut a vent hole for the steam to escape. Very important those vent holes. If you forget, you get a blow hole out the side of your crust. Not attractive but can always be disguised with a scoop of ice cream when you serve.
This is actually a quick lesson. I’ll have more tips to follow. I think if you have gotten this far, you’re love affair has started and there’s no reason to turn back now. Follow through and enjoy the rewards.
Tomorrow, crimping tips and decorative top ideas. Plus, how to make rolled out dough ahead of time for a quick construction.
Remember, post pictures!! I’d love to see them. And most important, go ahead and volunteer to make the pies this year. It’s your best year yet!!