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Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Easy Flaky Pie Crust

There's always room for improvement! This pie crust version takes about 10 minutes, produces a flakier crust and doesn't require a food processor so the clean up is a snap.

Giving someone a pie in a store bought pie crust is like giving someone a gift in a gift bag. It says... I kind of like you, but not enough to spend 10 minutes wrapping your gift.

(That said, if this is your first time making a pie crust and you're nervous about making it for a large group of people, I've posted a super easy buttered shortbread pie crust alternative that can be used in place of any dessert pie crust. It doesn't require anything but a fork and a bowl to make, but if you buy a $10 tart pan at Target, it can even look fancy enough for royalty!)

What's wrong with store-bought pie crusts? Well... other than the awful taste and chemicals we can't pronounce, they're not flaky or buttery. They're flat... like some sort of nasty government issued cracker that manages to be both stale and soggy at the same time. When someone eats pie in a store bought crust, they usually eat the filling and leave the crust behind. That's a shame... because a pie crust should be buttery and flaky like an authentic croissant. Could you imagine passing up a fresh baked croissant? Yeah, us either!

A pie crust should have layers like a croissant

You'll never see these layers in a store-bought pie crust and you definitely won't get them if you try to make it using oil. These layers give you a flaky croissant like texture and taste.

We used to make pie crusts in the food processor, but the problem is one or two pulses too many and your pie crust suddenly gets an extra shot of gluten, making it tougher than desired. I've found that using a pastry cutter (also called a "pastry blender") is far more accurate and way less of a hassle to clean up since you just have one thing to throw in the dishwasher. As an added bonus, they only cost around $10, requires little storage space and you can use it to make scones too. Just make sure to get the kind that looks like it has little blades on it - avoid the wire ones like this because they don't work worth diddly.

The most important aspect is to weigh the ingredients. The flour-to-fat ratio is important for being able to work with the dough. If there's too much flour, the crust will be too hard to roll out. If there's too little, it'll collapse down the sides of the pie plate during baking. It should be soft and pliable like Playdough and very easy to roll out and work with. The rest of it is all about technique. Here are a few important things you'll need:
  • shortening vs lard - Lard definitely makes a superior pie crust. And it's actually got less saturated fat than butter. Fun fact! If you use shortning, it'll be soft and unplesant, but both will work. Just don't be tempted to make the crust with all butter because butter has too much water in it and the crust won't turn out even. And definitely don't make it with all shortening (or lard) because - if it isn't buttery, what's the point?? You can find lard at any supermarket. It's usually right near the shortening, and you can find it in Latin supermarkets labeled as "manteca".
  • french rolling pin or silicone rolling pin - The easiest way to roll out anything is with a french rolling pin (about $10). It slightly curves up towards the ends so you don't have to worry about the end of it cutting into your pastry. The standard American rolling pin has handles connected with a metal rod through it which means it can't be properly cleaned and will rust inside. Eww! I also love the really long silicon rolling pins that have become popular in the past few years.

Everything you need to make the crust
Ingredients: (Ingredients below make a single layer pie crust, up to 9" deep dish.)
  • 6 oz all purpose flour (3/4 cup properly measured flour)
  • 1/2 tsp salt (regular table salt, not Kosher salt)
  • 3 oz unsalted butter (cold) (about 3/4 of a stick)
  • 1 oz lard (manteca) or shortening (cold)
  • 1/4 cup cold water
  1. Place your pie plate in the freezer.
  2. Mix the flour and salt together well.
  3. Cut the butter into the flour/salt mixture until it resembles small crumbs (the crumbs should be various sizes, but all of them should be smaller than an English pea).
  4. Cut the lard (mateca) into the mixture until it resembles small crumbs (the crumbs should be various sizes, but all of them should be smaller than an English pea).
    Cutting in the butter
  5. Evenly sprinkle the 1/4 cup cold water across the surface of the dough. Let it soak for about a minute, then cut it in just to distribute a bit. Don't overwork it or the crust will get tough.
  6. Press the crust together into a thick disk, wrap tightly in plastic wrap, then put in the refrigerator to chill for at least an hour. This allows the water to evenly distribute throughout the crust without you having to mix it.
    A thick disk
  7. After refrigerating, roll out pie crust on a floured surface as you normally would to about 1/8" thick. (When you first start rolling it, it'll be very firm and you'll think you've done something wrong. As you roll it, it'll soften up and be beautiful.)
    Rolled and ready!
  8. Place in pie crust dish. (I gently fold it into quarters to slide it into the pie plate, but you can also roll it up on the rolling pin and unroll into the pie plate.)
    Fold in half
    Fold in half again
    Just placed in pie plate
    Unfold again, then once more to complete unfold crust into pie plate
  9. Use scissors or a knife to trim off extra pie crust and decorate the edge as desired.
    I just crimp the edges with my fingers because I like the homemade look.
  10. Freeze the pie crust for at least 30 minutes or until ready to use (up to a week, tightly wrapped).
  11. Fill and bake as directed by your recipe.
Our favorite pie crust filling is Buttermilk Pie. It only takes 5 minutes to make and people love it.

What's your favorite type of pie?

1 comment:

  1. terima kasih atas inspirasinya. makanan sehat memang sangat penting, selain itu perhatikan juga apa alat memasak Anda sudah sehat?