Saturday, June 21, 2008

The Best Pie Crust, Ever.

Pie crust and I have a checkered relationship. One the one hand, I absolutely love pie, and the crust is my favorite part; however, my attempts to create really good crust (the old-fashioned way--I did have success with CI's vodka pie crust) have failed in various ways. Flaky and not tender, neither flaky nor tender, à la cardboard--just disastrous. Until now!

Introducing the secret to good pie crust, courtesy of Alanna Kellogg of Kitchen Parade (and steward of the excellent blog, A Veggie Venture): more fat, less water! When the fat is cut into the flour, it both contributes to flakiness and protects the precious gluten from developing too much, and the minimal amount of water ensures a tender pie crust.

This was, without a doubt, the best pie I had ever made. And want to know a secret? I used canned filling. I know, I know, I'm a horrible person, but I really wanted to showcase the crust (and besides, homemade blueberry pie filling can be tricky, not to mention expensive). Without further ado, I would like to share the life-saving recipe...

Oh, and by the way, I got my pastry blender, which helps "cut" the fat into the flour, for $10 at Williams-Sonoma, and it is just wonderful. If you are looking for one, make sure it has blades and not wires; it will be most effective that way.

Flaky Tender Pie Crust
Adapted from Kitchen Parade
Makes enough pastry for a double-crust 9-inch pie.

280 grams (2 cups) all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cold and cut into 16 pieces
1/2 Crisco shortening, cold
Egg wash of 1 yolk + 1 Tbsp water

1. In large bowl, mix sugar, salt, and one cup (140 g) of flour.
2. With pastry blender or two knives, cut the butter into the dry ingredients.
3. Add shortening and cut into butter/flour mixture.
4. Lightly stir in the rest of the flour.
5. Sprinkle with 2 tablespoons water.
6. With an open palm, press flour against side of bowl. Rub hands together and let damp flour fall back into mixture.
7. Add water, drops at a time, until mixture just barely holds together. Dry crumbs are good!!
8. Gather dough into ball, divide in two, and flatten into disks. Chill dough for a few minutes.
9. Take one piece out of the refrigerator and roll out into a 12-inch circle on a lightly floured surface, on a silicone mat, or between two pieces of plastic wrap. Transfer to pie plate and bake (if prebaking is required) or return to refrigerator.
10. Prepare pie filling and place in bottom crust.
11. Roll out the other crust and place on top. Seal and flute. Cut vents in top and brush with egg wash.
12. Bake as your favorite pie recipe directs.

1 comment:

Alanna said...

Hi Chris, That's exactly what happened to me, too. For many years, I had great pie crust karma and then -- poof! -- it was gone and no/recipe I tried worked out until -- finally! -- I learned how to accomplish tender and flaky at the same time.

I am sooo glad it worked for you, too! Thanks so much for helping to share the recipe and technique. Your pie looks absolutely gorgeous.