Saturday, October 30, 2010

Pie Crust

In the last year I think I've really honed my pie crust skills. 

Whats my secret to great pie? 
Well, I use Martha Stewart's classic Pate Brisee dough, I do my best to chill my ingredients and tools, and I practice, practice, practice.
I think that (like in bread making) you really need to get acquainted with the dough, and the whole process. It takes a while to not only get used to the feel and look of the right texture of the dough, but also to learn how to control it when rolling.
This recipe makes 2 pie crusts

2 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar (omit if using savoury filling)
1 cup of cold butter
1/4-1/2 cup ice water

Begin by mixing the flour, salt and sugar in a bowl. Dump it out onto a clean large counter top.
Chop butter into pieces and toss into the flour tossing to coat. Using a cold pastry cutter, cut butter into flour mixture until it resembles a coarse meal. Between chops you may need to use your pastry cutter to scrap the flour back into the original mound, and also to toss the mixture around to find any large  chunks of butter or untouched flour. 

Once your flour and butter look like the photo above, its time to add water. Pour a small amount at a time into your flour, and use your hands to mix. A good habit to get into with touching your dough is, well, to   not touch it too much at all. The heat of your hands will really melt the butter quickly (which is why we've used a pastry cutter and lots of cold ingredients and tools so far). I like to cup my hands around the dough to bring it together, but take them away from the dough quickly. Imagine that your hands are quickly hugging the dough, in quick little repetitive movements. You are NOT kneading the dough, simply helping the water join the water and flour. Continue adding water until the dough forms a disk shape that does not fall apart when picked up. However wet and sticky dough is not better than dry dough, try to avoid adding too much water. 

Now wrap your dough in plastic and refrigerate for 30 minutes. Once sufficiently chilled, remove from plastic and cover lightly with flour. Using a cold rolling pin gently roll out your dough on a floured surface. A perfect circle is not a requirement and might make you crazy trying to achieve it. Even if there are cracks, they can almost always be mended with other pieces of dough. Once your dough is to your desired thinness, place your pie plate over the rolled out dough, to make sure it will fit. Gently lift the dough and place into the plate, pressing the dough onto the edges to trim. 

Fill with your favourite fillings, bake in an oven at 375 degrees for 30-45 minutes.

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