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Basic Flaky Pie Crust

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18Rabbit



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Basic Flaky Pie Crust  Reply with quote  

This recipe is from the excellent book Pie: 300 Tried-and-True Recipes for Delicious Homemade Pie by Ken Haedrich. This text is from a website I found that copied the text from his book so the suggestions below are his not mine. This is a fantastic crust and has been perfect every time I've made it, either by hand or in a food processor. The book really is amazing. If you love pie I recommend it.

Overall there are two basic types of crusts, very flaky crusts which use shortening or flavorful crusts that use butter as the fat. To get a nice middle ground between the two this recipe uses half shortening and half butter to give a flavorful and flaky crust.

The flakiness of a pie crust results from little pockets of the fat being trapped in the gluten of the wheat. So keep everything chilled and don't over mix your dough. Keeping it chilled helps keep the fat from being absorbed into the flour and not over mixing helps keep the gluten strands long and strong which results in better pockets for the fats to steam off from which gives a flakier crust. Also be careful to not add too much water. I never use the full amount listed below and usually use a few tablespoons more than half of what's listed below. If you have left over crust, you can make a great treat out of it by rolling it out flat, sprinkle it with cinnamon and sugar and then cut it into strips. Put the strips on a cookie sheet in the over at 350 for about 5-10 minutes and then eat them. Yum!

FOR A SINGLE CRUST

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/4-inch pieces
  • 1/4 cup cold vegetable shortening, cut into pieces
  • 1/4 cup cold water

FOR A DOUBLE CRUST
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/4-inch pieces
  • 1/2 cup cold vegetable shortening, cut into pieces
  • 1/2 cup cold water


PREPARE THE DOUGH
Choose one of these 3 methods to prepare the dough for the crust:

  • TO MAKE IN A FOOD PROCESSOR
    Put the flour, sugar, and salt in the food processor. Pulse several times to mix. Scatter the butter over the dry ingredients and pulse the machine 5 or 6 times to cut it in. Fluff the mixture with a fork, lifting it up from the bottom of the bowl. Scatter the shortening over the flour and pulse 5 or 6 times. Fluff the mixture again. Drizzle half of the water over the flour mixture and pulse 5 or 6 times. Fluff the mixture and sprinkle on the remaining water. Pulse 5 or 6 times more, until the dough starts to form clumps. Overall, it will look like coarse crumbs. Dump the contents of the processor bowl into a large bowl. Test the pastry by squeezing some of it between your fingers. If it seems a little dry and not quite packable, drizzle a teaspoon or so of cold water over the pastry and work it in with your fingertips.
  • TO MAKE BY HAND
    Combine the flour, sugar, and salt in a large bowl. Toss well, by hand, to mix. Scatter the butter over the dry ingredients and toss to mix. Using a pastry blender, 2 knives, or your fingertips, cut or rub the butter into the flour until it is broken into pieces the size of small peas. Add the shortening and continue to cut until all of the fat is cut into small pieces. Sprinkle half of the water over the mixture. Toss well with a fork to dampen the mixture. Add the remaining water, 1 1/2 to 2 tablespoons at a time, and continue to toss and mix, pulling the mixture up from the bottom of the bowl on the upstroke and gently pressing down on the downstroke. Dough made by hand often needs a bit more water. If necessary, add water 1 or 2 teaspoons at a time until the pastry can be packed.
  • TO MAKE WITH AN ELECTRIC MIXER
    Combine the flour, sugar, and salt in a large bowl. Add the butter, tossing it with the flour. With the mixer on low speed, blend the butter into the flour until you have what looks like coarse, damp meal, with both large and small clumps. Add the shortening and repeat. Turning the mixer on and off, add half of the water. Mix briefly on low speed. Add the remaining water, mixing slowly until the dough starts to form large clumps. If you’re using a stand mixer, stop periodically to stir the mixture up from the bottom of the bowl. Do not overmix.


FINISHING THE DOUGH
Using your hands, pack the pastry into a ball (or 2 balls if you are making a double crust) as you would pack a snowball. If you’re making a double crust, make one ball slightly larger than the other; this will be your bottom crust. Knead each ball once or twice, then flatten the balls into 3/4-inch-thick disks on a floured work surface. Wrap the disks in plastic and refrigerate for at least an hour or overnight before rolling.

Recipe for Success: I use this pastry so often that I tend to make it in large batches. More than half of the time required to make pastry is spent getting out the ingredients, putting them away, and washing the utensils. That said, I may make a double batch of crust, 3 or 4 times over, then freeze it for up to a month. I wrap each disk in plastic, then in aluminum foil. I take the dough out of the freezer the day before I plan to use it and let it thaw in the fridge. It works like a charm.

Prebaked Pie Shell
------------------------------------------
For some types of pies, you'll need to prebake the pastry, sometimes partially and sometimes fully. Ken Haedrich, the author of "Pie," gives the most risk-free method for baking a crisp crust every time. All you need is aluminum foil and something to weight the foil and pastry down, such as dried beans or pie weights. Here's the method.

Make the pastry, fit it into a pie pan and flute the edge of the dough. Tear off a piece of aluminum foil (not heavy duty) about 16 inches long. That's more than you need, but the excess makes the foil easy to lift when you're removing the beans. Now center the foil over the pie shell, and just as you tucked the pastry into the pan, tuck the foil into the pie shell. The bottom and sides of the pie should be well-defined. Let the excess foil flare out like wings. Pour in enough dried beans to come to the top of the pan.

Bake in a preheated oven at 400 degrees for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes, slide out the oven rack and lift up the foil to remove the weights. Put them out of the way. (When they cool, they can be stored in a jar or plastic bag to be used over and over for future pies.) Take a fork and prick the pastry all over the bottom.

Lower the oven temperature to 375 degrees and continue to bake the pie shell for 10 to 12 minutes for a partially prebaked pie shell (as for pumpkin pie) or 15 to 17 minutes for a fully baked pie shell (as for lemon or coconut cream). If you notice any place that is puffing up, prick the problem spot with a fork.

As soon as you remove the pie shell from the oven, use the back of a spoon to gently press the side crust back any place where it may have sagged. Finally, whisk an egg white until frothy, then paint it over the holes you've poked to prevent the filling from leaking. Put the pie shell back into the hot oven to bake the egg white to a hard finish, about 2 minutes. Remove the pie shell from the oven and cool on a wire rack.

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