Sunday, November 27, 2011

American Pie Crust - A quirky, but succesful, method from King Arthur Flour

American Pie.  The pie crust is the key, isn't it?  It is to pie lovers, like my husband.  My son, too.  A pie crust has to be tender and flaky.  Am I right?  The debate goes on as to which is better-- an all butter crust vs. using shortening.  In my beginning baking years, I used to buy Mrs. Smith's frozen pies.  I was too intimidated to try making pie crust, from scratch.  Then, I transitioned to buying ready made pie crusts.  Eventually, I started to make pie crusts with my food processor.  I'd whir the dough around for an eternity, not realizing that I was doing a fabulous job of building up the gluten.  My pie crusts were tough, but at that time I didn't really notice. That's because  I don't eat the crust.  I'm one of those pie eaters, who scoops out the contents of the pie and tosses away the rest.

I married a man who loves pie. He loves pie crust. A lot. Seriously. He could eat pie for breakfast, and be totally content.  His favorite summer pie is "Olallieberry Pie".  I shared this all butter pie crust (from Ina Garten) as a tutorial (and it's gotten a lot of views).

In the Fall, I believe that Pumpkin Pie is one of the most traditional desserts that graces a Thanksgiving table.  Pecan comes in as a close second. Some years, I like to try new pumpkin desserts-- like Pumpkin Ice Cream, or Pumpkin Pana Cota.  This year, I wanted to make traditional pumpkin pie.  I wanted to try the shortening and butter approach of making a pie crust.  One of my most trusted internet  recipes sources, King Arthur Flour, had several pie crust recipes.  I watched their video, and I was totally sold on making a pie crust without a food processor!     There are four kitchen tools/supplies that you need, for this technique--  a rolling pin, parchment paper, a pastry cutter (you could use two forks)  and and a spray bottle. For those of you who say you hate to bake-- and worse, that believe you can't make pie crusts...  watch and see.

I've own a pie crust shield for years, to prevent my pie crusts from turning too dark.  The problem is, it ruins my pie crusts because I tend to use a deep-dish pie plate.  I now prefer to roll foil to fit my pie plate.  Spray the pie plate, so that the pie slices are easier to remove. You're welcome.

Measure your 3 cups of unbleached flour (of course, I only use King Arthur Flour), salt  and 1/2 cup shortening (a printable recipe card is at the end of this post).  Cut the shortening in until it's the size of small peas.   I have to admit, it wasn't hard work at all.

I usually grate my cold cheese. But, like the recipe instructed me to, I cut the butter into thin slices and added it to the coarse flour and shortening.  Very gently, with my hands, I mixed the butter with the flour. Then broke the butter to about the size of my thumbnail.

 Ice water is important-- not cold tap water.  The recipe said between 6-9 Tablespoons of water.  I quit at 9 Tablespoons, while stirring it with a fork.  I wasn't quite sure when to quit-- as the recipe said to quite when the dough is "shaggy" and "almost moist".  So, remember that parchment paper and spray bottle I mentioned?  Here's the quirky part:

Spread the shaggy dough on top of parchment paper.  Take one side of the parchment paper and fold it over the dough and press down. 

See? The dough is a bit dry, still (I should have added one or two more Tablespoons of water.)

Now spray with water, until the dough is moistened.  The theory-- which makes complete sense to me, now-- is that we are not going to overwork the dough.  We also want to allow those pieces of butter to stay whole.  I press the dough, almost like a letter, to build layers.   Finally, it all came together.

 I cut the dough into unequal halves. Why? Because one pie plate is deeper and larger than the other!

I'm holding a cross section.  Those will become tender layers of flavor. I totally have faith in that.

Gently pat the dough into a circle, wrap in plastic, refrigerate,  and allow to rest for at least 30 minutes.  You can certainly make the pie crust dough several days in advance.

 Rolling pins... I have finally fallen in-love with my tapered rolling pin.  As long as I run a little flour over the rolling pin, I don't have a problem with the pie dough sticking.

I finally mastered the simple art of rolling pie dough.  Start from the center and roll out.  I no longer roll back and forth, and now my pie crusts don't stick and they aren't tough, from being overworked. One last tip-- turn the dough a quarter turn.  If the dough sticks, then add a little flour underneath.  All my broken pie crust problems have been solved!

Can you see that nice chunk of butter in the right corner?  It's simple science-- the butter causes the crust to steam = tender and delicious crust.   I find that wrapping my pin around the dough, and then unwrapping it onto my pie plate works perfectly-- every time.

My crust was a little unevenly shaped. I simply took some excess trimmings, and added it underneath the area that needed more.  Crimping will hide that patch job.

It's fun to play with my food.

Here's a more traditional crimp.

Here's how I did it, from an earlier post for a two-crust pie.

For my second pie, I snipped the dough with kitchen shears...

That's kind of fun-- a checkerboard crust.

FINAL NOTES: The prepared pie crusts should be chilled for at least 30 minutes before using. Yes, you can freeze these as well, and use them another time-- like the day after. 

I simply don't see a need to buy pre-made pie crusts.  Have you read the ingredients lately?  I actually find pie crusts on the therapeutic side to make.  There's something really satisfying when I roll out a pie crust and crimp it.  It feels like a true accomplishment.  Of course, the question is-- is this a good recipe?

VERDICT:  This dough is very easy to work with, and rolls out beautifully.  I found the pie crust to be truly tender.  My husband really liked the pie crust a lot.  He says it's just like his mom's old-fashioned pie crust. I still am a big fan of all-butter crusts, and I'm a tart kinda gal.  I gave my husband the crust, and gutted the pumpkin pie.  Considering I had some rather generous helpings of my revised sweet potato casserole (coming up soon), that was probably a better idea.

Here's a sneak preview to the pumpkin pie recipe, that was new to me.  It was excellent.  Yes, I will be sharing that one, too.

I was hoping to embed the King Arthur Video on this post, but I'm a little leery about playing around with HTML codes within my template.  So, instead, here's the link to see this really cool pie crust technique.

A printable recipe card is at the end of this post, and at the end of the video.

I keep saying-- King Arthur Flour doesn't pay me to promote their products, website or recipes.  I do it, because I'm a very happy customer, and I have great results with their recipes.  Plus, they're nice people to deal with on the phone.

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Valerie said...

What a beautiful crust! Thanks for the photos, and helpful directions, I'm always on the look-out for ways to add some flare to pie crusts. :D

Velva said...

I am smiling. I am one of those people who eat the crusts.

I am still too intimidated to make my own pie crusts(sigh). This looks amazing!

Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family.


Lynn said...

I am one who loves pie crust! Too much! I have made many from scratch but this is different and interesting I have never used both shortening and butter at the same time. Next time I make pie I'm going to try this. I don't make pie very often anymore because I love it, live alone and would eat the whole thing myself! lol not good for my health.

Stacey Snacks said...

Deb, your pies and crust are gorgeous!!!!!

Joanne said...

This year was definitely the year of the pie crust for me! I finally feel like I can make a decent one...but there's always room for improvement! I have to try yours.

Chiara "Kika" Assi said...

Your husband is a very lucky man. I'm not sure I'd be able to make my own pie crust. :)

Miz Helen said...

Oh my goodness, I have one of those guys that loves pie. Your tutorial for crust is great, it looks so tender and flaky. Thanks for sharing and hope you are having a great day!
Miz Helen

Becki's Whole Life said...

This is a great post with some great tips. I have made both kinds of crusts and I really like the flavor of the butter crust. I just made the one from the Simply Recipes blog and it was great. I will have to try this one next time - King Arthur has some great recipes.

My favorite thing here is your tip for creating the layers. I love this and it is how I make my biscuits.

Teena in Toronto said...

Would you believe I've never baked a pie!?

Happy blogoversary :)

Cathy at Wives with Knives said...

Great tutorial, Debby. I've tried all butter crusts and haven't been happy with them, not flaky enough for my taste, so the butter-lard combo may be just what my family will like. Your tips are excellent, especially the one to spray the pie dish...duh, never thought to do that. Everybody gobbles up the crust at my house.

Rosemary said...

I'm almost as afraid of pie crust as I am of yeast! But I've got to grow up someday,, since both my husband and I (and every other family member!) loves pie. And the crust has to be tender and flaky. Thanks for the lesson!

Pam List said...

Lovely crust, I had one by Bob Hope in a Penzey Magazine and lost it. But this one is so pretty and my son saw the pie and got all excited because I always google recipes right before I

Received the drawing prize of vanilla and love it. I am a sucker for a cool logo.

Thanks and God bless,

A Feast for the Eyes said...

Pam, I'm so glad that you received your Singing Dog Vanilla! Please keep me posted on what you make with it.