Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Radical Cooking - The Easy Way to Make a Great Pie Crust



Cooking outside the take out box
Better, fresh, easier, quicker and healthier




It's berry time in Virginia and a great berry pie begins with a great home made crust.

You'll often hear the old expression "as easy as pie" but cooks everywhere get paralyzed at the thought of making a pie crust. 

Here's some help straight from out test kitchens.


Karla's Best Pie Crust (2011)
Every baker has a trick or two to make pie crusts better tasting, flakier and easier to work with.  I'm always on the look out for new crust tricks and new crust recipes.

This dough is quickly made in the food processor.  It rolls out easily and you can pick up the rolled out dough without tearing.  (If you do happen to tear it, simple put the dough into the pan and patch it together with your finger tips.)

This is my favorite pie crust recipe - for this year.  It's so easy and so reliable that it will make any novice look like a pie crust pro.

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Makes 1 (9 or 10 inch) single crust pie shell
Need a double crust?
Make the recipe 2 times.  Do not double the recipe because it may not fit into your food processor.
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2-3 tablespoons ice water
(Put 2 or 3 ice cubes into a glass and fill with tap water before continuing with recipe)
1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1/4 cup solid white vegetable shortening (like Crisco- regular or trans fat free)
1/2 stick butter (4 tablespoons - margarine not recommended)

Making pie is as easy as pie!
Put all ingredients (except ice water) into the food processor.  Pulse together until crumbs are uniform looking - about 45 seconds.

Add 2 to 3 tablespoons ice water (not cubes) and process until dough comes together into a ball - about 30 seconds.

Remove dough from processor and by hand, flatten into a 6 inch circle.

Lightly cover with plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerate for 1 hour.  (Longer chilling is not recommended.)

After chilling, roll out the dough on very lightly floured surface. (I like to roll out dough right on my counter top.  Don't use too much flour or your crust will dry out and crumble.)  Roll out dough so that it's big enough to hang about 1 1/2 inches over the rim of your pie pan.

Put dough into the ungreased pan.  Patch any tears by pressing the dough together with your finger tips.  Tuck under the the dough that hangs over the rim and crimp evenly.  The pie is now ready for filling.

For a double crust pie:
Put the bottom crust into the pan.  Do not tuck dough under yet.  Fill pie shell.  Roll out the second dough and position over the filling.  Now, taking both layers of dough that hangs over together, tuck them under and crimp.  Cut slits in the top crust to let the steam escape during baking.

FAQ

Q: How do I know whether to add 2 or 3 tablespoons of ice water?

A: It depends on the dri-ness of the flour, amount of moisture in the butter and the humidity of the air in your kitchen.

Begin by adding the 2 tablespoons ice water and pulse dough a little. Open processor and squeeze a bit of dough between 2 fingers (before it's formed a ball).

If the dough is sticky, don't add any more water.  Continue processing until the dough comes together and forms a ball.

If the dough seems a little dry, like it won't come together, add the remaining tablespoon. Continue processing until the dough comes together and forms a ball.

How much water to add is one of those things that a recipe assumes you know.  With a little experience, you'll soon be able to read the dough like a pro.

Q:  Do I have to use vegetable shortening?  Can't I use all butter - or oil?

A:  Vegetable shortening gives the dough the ability to roll out.  There are recipes that use all butter or all oil but they require a great deal of skill to manage. There are also recipes that use all vegetable shortening.  Lard is a time honored ingredient that makes wonderful pie crusts but we rarely use lard today.

If you're concerned about transfats, you might try the new vegetable shortenings that are made without transfats.  They work just as well the regular kind.

We like this recipe because it combines the ease of vegetable shortening with the good taste of butter.  As your skill developes by all means try other recipes.  That's part of the fun of cooking!



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