Monday, November 14, 2011

Pie Week Day 1: The Perfect Pie Crust


Welcome to Pie Week!  Today we are going to talk about making the perfect pie crust.  

5 Tips for a Successful Pie Crust
1.  You want to make pastry that is tender and flaky, so you must use correct ingredients, measure them correctly, and follow the written instructions.   This is not a time for improvisation.    

2.  Stir flour (I use a whisk), then lightly spoon into the correct measuring cup(s).  
3.  Handle the dough as gently as possible.  Gluten develops when the flour is moistened and stirred.  It provides a structure that traps steam during baking, and helps make the pastry flaky. 

4.  Be careful not to over mix when adding the liquid.  After adding liquid, just press the ingredients together to moisten the flour rather than mixing and developing gluten. 

5.  Gather and press dough together with your hands, and flatten it into a disc to make rolling the correct size and shape easier.

Pie Dough
Recipe makes 6 pie crust or 3 double crust pies

In a shallow bowl place:
6 cups of flour
3 cups of Butter Flavor Crisco
3 teaspoons salt

Mix together with clean fingers until the mixture resembles corn meal.

Add 1 ½ cold cups water.  Fold together to form a soft ball of dough. Do NOT knead the dough you just want to combined it.  

 At this point the dough should look marbled.  Divide into 6 pieces. 
 On a floured, work with one piece, roll out with a rolling pin until the dough is very thin.  

Carefully fold into half and then in half again, so it looks like  a triangle.  

Carefully place in pie plate unfold and EASE the crust down into the pan.   The crust should nestle down into the corners.  Don't stretch it ease it down.

This is the dough set on the pan. 

This is the dough eased in.  You pick it up and gently help it fill the corners of the pan.

 Flueting the Edges

Cut off any dough that hangs down on to the counter

Tuck the extra dough under.  So it creates a mound of dough on the rim of the pie pan.

Using your pointer finger and thumb on one hand and your pointer finger on the other pinch the dough to create a wavy crust. 

Pie shells that are to be baked unfilled should be poked with a fork. 

Unfilled pies need to have weight in them when you bake them (or weird bubbles happen).  line the pie crust with parchment paper and fill with dry beans.  Be sure to LINE the pie with something or the beans will make the crust taste funny. 

Double crust pies need vent holes cut in them.  I used these Pie Cookie Cutters
to cut out a design.  If you are making a LOT of pies be sure to cut different designs in each pie so you can tell the difference. 

Brush the top of you pie crush with milk or egg white to create a beautifully browned crust. 
**Remember to always keep pie dough covered in an airtight container when not working with it. 

Filled pies often leak in the oven.  Place pie on a cookie sheet before placing in the oven, than any drips will be on the cookie sheet and not in your oven.

Bake on the bottom rack of the oven. 
Filled pies at 375 for 1 hour (allow an extra 10 minutes if you are baking frozen pies) If you are using a glass pan (and they do work better) bake at 350.  Bake Pie shells for 8-10 minutes.

Fun Stuff – Flavored Pastry

Add one of the following to the flour before mixing:
}  1 t. cinnamon
}  1 ½ t. citrus peel
}  2 T. finely chopped nuts
}  1 t. celery seed

Fun Stuff – Garnishes

}   Place a doily or stencil on top of pie.  Sprinkle with powdered sugar, cocoa powder or ground nuts.
}   Drizzle syrup on the plate before placing pie on it, or place pie on the plate, and drizzle over pie and plate.
}   Blend fruit and pour a thin layer of “sauce” on the plate.  Drop chocolate syrup or heavy cream at intervals, and drag a knife blade through the dots to “Sauce Paint”.
}   Pastry cut-outs can be placed on, or around the edge of an un-cooked shell.  They may    also be baked at 450° for up to 10 minutes, and arranged on top of a cooked pastry.