Friday, September 24, 2010

Holiday Prep: Pie Crust Demonstration

Ready for this? How to make the perfect pie crust from scratch.

Recipe for a 2 crust pie crust:
2 cups flour
1 tsp salt
2/3 cup shortening
4-5 TBSP water

Measure out the ingredients. In my bowl I have the flour and salt. You'll want your bowl to have a secure fitting lid. You'll see why soon. If you have the time, refrigerate your ingredients for half an hour or so before starting. It helps--trust me.

Using the pastry blender, cut the shortening into the flour until it is all crumbly. Like this.

Pour the water over, starting with 4 TBSP first. Notice my ice cube? Cold ingredients help the pie crust stay flaky. So I chill my flour and shortening and use ice water.
Put the lid on the bowl and shake the mixture to combine. Shaking causes less agitation to the flour, which means less development of the gluten in the flour, which means a nice flaky crust instead of a tough chewy one. Pretty smart, huh! If you mix it with a fork or knead it by hand, it will almost always be too tough.
Check to see if it is the right consistency. You should be able to take a piece in your hand, press it together, and have it stay. If it is too dry, add the last tablespoon of water and shake again. I usually have to use all 5 tbsp, or sometimes even 6. Why? Because I live in a very dry place! If it is humid, it really will make a difference. So check.
Once it's all ready, press it together into a disc and put the lid on. Refrigerate for an hour or so, or even overnight. This can even be frozen here. The refrigeration time will allow the flour to really absorb the water and the shortening to firm up--again, creating a flaky, tender crust.
Now its time to roll! Get out the wax paper, rolling pin, pie pans, a butter knife, and flour. Cut off 2 pieces of wax paper about 2 feet long each. Sprinkle one with flour.
Place a single pie-crust amount (remember, this recipe makes 2 crusts, so you have to cut your disc in half after you refrigerated it) in the center of the wax paper and dust the top with flour. Cover with the other wax paper and begin rolling out. Move the pie crust, not your rolling pin: go straight forward and backward, using even pressure. Turn it quarter turns between each roll. This way it will stay in roughly a circle shape instead of going amorphous blob on you.
Keep on rolling!
Check to see if the size is right by comparing to your pan. You need about a two inch leeway on all sides so that it will rest in the pan easily and still have edge crimping room.
Remove the top wax paper, then put it back on. (makes it easier to remove later... you'll thank me.) Flip and remove the other wax paper. Then put it in the pie pan, as this video demonstrates:

For top crusts, roll out just the same. Fill your bottom crust with your filling (peach shown here), then place the top crust on just as I did before.
Then trim all the sides of the pie down using the knife, until about 1" of both the top and the bottom hangs over the sides.
All trimmed down!
Tuck the edges under the sides of the pie pan as shown.
Gently crimp edges together in your favorite pattern (fork, pinched, twisted, whatever your grandma taught you or whatever you can manage).

For a lattice-top pie, roll out the top crust just like before. But instead of putting it straight on the pie, cut it into long strips. The more strips, the more weaving you have.
Put half the strips on in one direction.
alternate folding half the first strips back and placing on a new strip. You're going over and under in a weaving pattern.
Done! Then just cut the edges back, fold under, and crimp just as a solid-top pie. It is a teensy bit trickier this way, but very beautiful.
Brush the tops of the pies with egg wash: 1 egg mixed thoroughly with 1 TBSP of water. This will help get that beautiful golden brown shine. I also like to sprinkle mine with sugar. Prick, or "dock" the tops of non-lattice pies with a sharp knife to release steam.

Pies are now ready for the oven! Bake on a tray to catch leakage--and there probably will be a little leakage. You may want to wrap the edges of the crust with foil for part or all of the baking time.


Sara said...

oo... I was all excited by the title, and now it's not there. :P

Lisa said...

haha... so, apparently there was a Lisa-finger-slip. I wanted this to post on Sept. 30 but it is here today. oh well! Enjoy!

Sara said...

yum! hm.... I think you should bring those pies over to my house. :)

Kathy said...

Nice demo! I follow the same basic process for gluten free crusts, but I don't have to worry so much about turning out a tough crust. Since my flour lacks gluten, it never gets chewy! But that also means I will probably never succeed at a lattice top crust - it would break and crumble if I tried to weave it. This makes me hungry for pie!

Crystal said...

Perfect tips! There are lots of tips that I have never heard before. I always wanted a pastery blender and get by with using 2 knives.

Levi and Kami's Blog said...

Whoa Nellie! YUM! AWESOME!

Aubri said...

Oh... this is awesome! And a Celiac friend of mine just e-mailed me a great GF piecrust recipe! I'm totally trying it out this week!