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In Search of the Perfect Pie Crust

Helen_Frati's picture

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Perfect pie crust: Receipe
rolling technique, Which pin to use for
the best results. Any tips will be helpful, as I am hopeless with pie crust; it is my challange to conquer this!!!!!

Jean_'s picture

(post #25877, reply #1 of 6)

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I'll bet you can't get a better one than MeanChef posted a while back. Here it is.......
MEAN CHEF - 04:53pm Jan 27, 1999 EST (8.)
For the time being, let's just stick to one pie crust. I have a formula for one with lard also, but shortening is acceptable to more people than pig fat.

11.25 oz. a/p flour.(if you can't get a/p, order some from King Arthur or try pastry flour which is almost impossible to find in the states)
1 tbs sugar
1/4 lb. unsalted butter
1/4 cup crisco
3 oz water
2 tsp lemon juice (tenderizes and inhibits browning)
Cut butter and crisco into 1/2 inch pieces, put in a bowl and put in freezer. Measure out water, add lemon juice and put in freezer.

Put flour, sugar and salt in food processor. Pulse to combine. Have a cup of coffee while your fat and water gets real cold.

Add butter and crisco to processor and pulse until fats are about the size of hazelnuts. Check every 2-3 pulses to make sure. Some pieces a bit bigger is ok.

Add liquid and pulse until moist crumbs form. It should NOT come together in a ball. You should see some moist looking clumps of dough.

Dump it out into a cold stainless steel bowl. Take out processor blade. Gather the dough together in a ball, cut in half, and gently, but gently shape into 2 disks. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for at least 1 hour. Each disk will make one 9" shell.

Take out dough, roll between floured parchment. It should be about 13-14 inches in diameter and 1/8 inch thick. Roll up on rolling pin and place over pie pan.

Gently, press dough into pie pan. DO NOT STRETCH DOUGH. Make your decorative Martha Stewart edge. Then put in refrigerator for 1 hour.

Now you are ready to blind bake. I ALWAYS at least partially blind bake crust.

I hope this helps.

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Beanie's picture

(post #25877, reply #2 of 6)

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Thanks is a/p all-purpose? Have pastry flour from King Arthur, Any rolling tips??? Mine just
seems to fall apart. Someone told me about using corn starch ??

sysop_'s picture

(post #25877, reply #3 of 6)

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have y'all tried this bit of advice from shirley corriher?

The secrets of tender, flaky pie crust

zzz's picture

(post #25877, reply #4 of 6)

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If you're still having trouble w/ your crusts staying together, take a look at Julia Child's The Way to Cook pg. 380 (Pate Brisee). I think that technique of smearing out the dough with the heel of your hand really does something. I've always used all butter, like she does, but I just had a pie at a friend's house the other night w/ part butter/part Crisco and it tasted even better than Julia's. My friend said it was from The New Basics Cookbook.

Sue_B.'s picture

(post #25877, reply #5 of 6)

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If you’re not already making perfect pie crust, I’d like to recommend reading the ‘understanding pastrymaking’ section of “The Simple Art of Perfect Baking” by Flo Braker (ISBN 0-9631591-2-7). An excellent reference in all respects, she offers a clear and straightforward explanation of the underlying concepts, the ingredients and their relationship, an efficient preparation method, and a very effective rolling technique. I’ve used her Classic Piecrust recipe to make flaky pastry for fruit pies for years, with great success.

I suggest that you learn to make pie crust by hand using a hand-held pastry blender and a large metal bowl. Touch is your single most important tool in all stages of pastry making. You’ll gain insight that will give you a helpful frame of reference should you wish to try the food processor and other methods.

Making pie crust is a quick and utterly straightforward process once you understand a few key concepts. Generic bleached all-purpose flour, vegetable shortening, butter, salt and ice water are all that are required, plus a plain wooden rolling pin. And lots of practice. Avoid recipes calling for exotic ingredients and complicated techniques until you’ve mastered the basics.

Here are a few recommendations that have helped me:

It is challenging to nearly-impossible to make and especially roll out pie crust in hot weather. There are ways to get around this but when you’re learning, give yourself a break and do it when it’s cool, morning or evening in the summer.

I dislike making pastry directly on a work surface because it’s messy and you don’t have the option of putting the whole shootin’ match in the fridge if it gets too warm or if you’re interrupted for some reason.

Use clear glass pie plates, because you can see when the bottom crust has browned enough.

You need not roll pie crust 1/8” thick, a little thicker, say 3/16” is easier to handle. Good luck!

Wolverine's picture

(post #25877, reply #6 of 6)

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I'm with you - those are the ingredients I use and my pie crust has always been flaky ( but not too much ) and gotten great reviews. At thanksiving I put a smidge of nutmeg and cinnamon in it for the pumpkin pie - just enhances everything!!