Right out of the gate, let me say that this is not an original recipe of mine. This comes from Suzanne McMinn at www.chickensintheroad.com. I highly recommend her blog; I have learned oodles. For those that prefer to go straight to the source, click here.
This is a terrific pie crust, and I somehow managed to make up three batches of it in the past week. (While sitting on my stool in front of the counter, and taking multiple breaks to wait for junior to quit kicking. Three weeks left till delivery. Can’t wait.)
Did I manage to take pictures of the actual mixing-up of the dough? No. Sorry. Will do next time. I did get pictures of my rolling-out method, though.
My technique is somewhat of a blend of old-fashioned and new-fangled.
The new – in order to cut the lard and butter into the dry ingredients, I bypass the dough cutter and instead grate the frozen fats in my food processor. Did mention that I freeze the lard and/or butter? If they aren’t frozen, then you don’t get fat shreds; you get a greasy mess. Just sayin’.
After grating, I swap out the grating blade for the salsa blade, and use that to cut the grated lard/butter into the dry ingredients. Works like a charm. Way less effort. The only complaint I have is that Bosch doesn’t have a salsa blade for their large food processor, and the small food processor can only handle half of this recipe at a time. It’s still less work than doing it by hand.
The old – once I get the lard/butter all cut into the dry ingredients, I then dump the whole mess into my largest mixing bowl and add the liquid ingredients by hand. I start with a large fork, to get it tossed together, and then knead by hand until it all starts sticking together. You don’t want to knead pie crust much; gluten development here is not a good thing.
It’s very important to let this dough chill a bit before rolling. Otherwise, it will stick to everything in sight. I wrapped up one pie’s worth of dough and let it rest in the fridge overnight. Not because of any virtuosity on my part in planning ahead; at that point I was so worn out I had to go lie down anyway. Why do I have to have cravings for food more complicated than dish-up-and-nuke in the last month of pregnancy??
At least I’ve got multiple pie’s worth of crust waiting in the freezer for me, in case the craving continues. I divided up the rest of the dough into single-crust amounts, wrapped it in plastic, stuffed it into a labeled ziplock and put it in the freezer.
Rolling out the dough – I borrow a technique from my mother here, and instead of using a well-floured counter, I use well-floured cut-open bread bags. Mine are poly bags from Spokane Bakery Supply. I bought three 1000-bag cases for $30/case a few years ago; my bags run about 3¢ apiece. I use them primarily for my breads (what else?), but they’re also great for pretty much any other bag storage that doesn’t need a ziplock. I have enough bread bags to last me for the next two decades. I digress.
Cut off the bottom end of two breadbags, and then slice them lengthwise to open up the tubes. This gives you a couple of nearly non-stick surfaces to roll out the dough between. It also keeps the counter clean.
I do sprinkle a bit of flour on the bottom layer, and then also on the dough – about a tablespoon each – to keep the dough from sticking at all. This dough will stick, but using this method you don’t have to add much flour to discourage it.
Roll out dough to a little larger circumference than the pie plate. I flip it over fairly often and peel the plastic back and re-lay it, to keep wrinkles from forming and splitting the dough.
When the dough is rolled out, peel off the top layer of plastic and flip the whole crust into the dish. Or lay the dish on top of the dough and then flip the whole set-up.
Then peel off the top layer. Having one layer of plastic in contact with the dough while getting it into the dish helps keep the dough from tearing.
Then roll out the top crust, if the pie needs one. I generally do a lattice crust with cherry and peach pies; these fruits contain a lot of water that needs to evaporate while the pie cooks, and the lattice crust lets that extra moisture escape. Apple and berry pies, I generally do a solid crust on top with a couple of vents; this keeps these fillings moist enough without letting them dry out.
Here’s my top crust, cut with a pastry wheel to make it look purty. You could use a pizza cutter instead; I just like the fancy edges.
I lay down the entire bottom layer of the lattice,
And then lay the top layer. I don’t bother to weave it; nobody ever seems to notice, and weaving takes a lot of extra work and generally results in the pie crust pieces breaking and getting filling all over the place. I just layer the lattice and it looks fine to me.
I trim off the sides with a butter knife, then crimp.
The finished pie!
There’s usually some leftover crust, in bits and pieces. If Rosebud’s around, she eats them raw. (Strange child) If I’ve managed to make the pie without her swiping the scraps, I roll them out, cut them in squares (to prevent the kids from running off with huge pieces), and sprinkle them with cinnamon & sugar. I put these on a cookie sheet under the pie in the oven for about ten minutes, until just golden.
I put a pie shield around the edge of the pie while it bakes. This keeps the edges from burning before the pie is done.
4 cups all-purpose flour (I used 1 c. whole wheat and 3 c. white flour)
1 3/4 cups shortening or lard (or butter)
1 tablespoon sugar
2 teaspoons salt
1 tablespoon vinegar
1/2 cup very cold water
Add flour, shortening or lard, sugar, and salt to a large bowl.
Mix flour and shortening or lard with a pastry cutter until it looks nice and crumbly. (Or, if you have a food processor, freeze the fats adn then grate the lard/butter/shortening. Then process with the dry ingredients using the salsa blade.)
In a small bowl, whisk together the vinegar, egg, and water. Add to the flour mixture, stirring in till well-moistened.
Knead lightly to mix in all the flour then shape it into a great, big, wonderful ball of pastry dough. (Don’t overhandle.)
Then divide the dough into four equal portions.
Shape each portion into a ball; wrap with plastic and refrigerate for at least 15 minutes before using. Or, if you want to use it faster, stick it in the freezer for 5 minutes. (You can keep this pie crust dough in the refrigerator for a week before using, or in the freezer for a couple of months. It freezes well–place dough balls in sealed freezer bags for storage.)
To use, sprinkle some flour on waxed paper. (Or cut-open bread bags) Sprinkle some more flour on top of the pastry dough then roll out, adding more flour if necessary to keep it from sticking to your rolling pin.
Place in a greased pie pan. I like to just up-end the rolled crust right off the waxed paper on top of the pie pan. Peel off the paper then crimp the edges.
For double-crust pie, repeat the same procedure, venting the top.
This recipe makes two 9-inch double-crust pies or four single-crust pies. This is a great pastry for tarts and pot pies, etc, as well as standard dessert pies.
Next post up – cherry pie filling.