Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Easy as Pie

Birthday time is here once again. In the span of six weeks, we'll celebrate four birthdays. You can imagine that birthday cake gets rather tiresome, if not downright stale, so instead, we sometimes eat birthday pie. YUMMY!!! I make all my desserts from scratch, because I enjoy it, and because I make better pie than any restaurant. No, I'm not bragging; I'm just not into false modesty. You know how you go to a restaurant and order pie and then leave some of the crust behind? Not this crust, baby. It's everything a pie crust should be: flakey and buttery and tender. So what's the secret?


That's right, don't let that butter sit out and soften and melt into the rest of the pastry. Tiny blobs of butter within the crust are what create the flakey texture. So don't over mix! The following recipe makes two pie crusts, one for now, and one for the freezer.

Two Flakey Pie Crusts:  
2 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
2 sticks of unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1/4 to 1/2 Ice water

1. Put the flour and salt in your food processor. Pulse for a few seconds. Add the butter, processing for no more than 10 seconds. The mixture will be coarse, because the butter should not be fully incorporated. If you don't have a food processor, you can use a pastry blender.

2. Add the ice water, drop by drop through the feed tube with the machine running until the dough holds together; do not process for more than 30 seconds. (It's okay if you still see small blobs of butter--that's the idea!)  

3. Divide the dough into two pieces for two crusts. You can wrap one crust and place it in the freezer for another day. The other crust should be placed in the fridge for 30 minutes before rolling it. Butter the pie pan before placing the rolled out pie crust in it. This ensures that the pie will ease out of the pan when you cut it, and it imparts a delicious, buttery taste.

I'm making lemon curd pie, so I need a completely baked pie shell. Here's how:  First, I roll out the dough and place it in the buttered dish.  

Next, I flute the edges:

Then, I poke holes in the crust with a fork to prevent the crust from rising while it bakes:

Finally, I fill the crust with weights (you can buy them at a cooking store) or pinto beans in foil to further prevent that sneaky crust from rising:

Bake at 375 degrees for 10-12 minutes. Remove the foil and weights until the crust turns golden, probably another 5-7 minutes.



Jenny Graman Meyer said...

Okay Baking Lady...I love to cook. I'm a fairly descent cook, at least my family thinks so (ignoring the 15-year-old picky eater). My pies are a disaster. Here's the problem. When I make a pie, especially pumpkin or one that needs to bake, then be filled, then bake again, the fluting get's overcooked, even if I use one of those ringy-things to cover it up. Any advice?

(Oh, and I may try your crust recipe. I'll alway rely on Pillsbury for mine!)

A Novel Woman said...

Hurry UP!!

Hey, did I ever tell you about the time I made Lemon Meringue Pie for a family dinner? I followed the directions to the letter. It looked pretty good, but when I stuck it in the fridge to cool, it kind of slopped around a bit under the meringue. I reckoned it would firm up after it chilled, kinda like me. But when I removed it from the fridge, it was clearly more like Lemon Meringue Soup than Pie.

It was my contribution, my ONLY contribution, to the function we were attending. So I quickly scanned the freezer and found a sponge cake, which I cut up, laced with a bottle of cognac, added jam, a bag of frozen raspberries, poured in the lemon filling,added whipped cream and slid the meringue on top. Voila! Pam's Special Lemon Trifle.

Lottery Girl said...


Two suggestions for you:
1. Always bake pastry and cakes in the top third of the oven. It really makes a huge difference. This alone solved the problem of the pie crust cooking up too much.

2. I've never used the rings, but I do use strips of aluminum foil to directly cover the fluted edge of the pie while letting the filling cook.

BTW, I can make this up in under 10 minutes, so it can be fast if you need that. Also, you can make the pie crust in advance for a big occasion.

Lottery Girl said...

Lemon Meringue is so very tricky, because the lemon part has to solidify, and then the meringue has to make a perfect seal with the lemon filling before you brown the meringue or you're in trouble. That's just one of the reasons I prefer lemon curd with fresh whipped cream.

The trifle sounds delicious, and was probably way better that the pie. Aren't you creative and clever!!! I'll bet it looks impressive as well.