Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Pie Crust-Basics

Last year, a lovely lady taught me how to make a pie crust.  As you know, pies are not in my family's DNA, so I've never learned how to make them before.  I was surprised that it's really quite simple (and all these years I've been fearing the worst).  If you have a pie-phobia like I did, face your fears with this recipe.  Trust me, it's not has hard as it seems.  And you know what they say:  Practice makes perfect!

Pie Crust

3 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
1-1/3 cups shortening
1/2 (+/-) cup cold water

In a bowl, mix flour and salt together.  Cut in shortening until it resembles small peas.  Make sure to get all the loose flour incorporated into the shortening.  Make a well in the center of the bowl.  Beginning on the outside edge, sprinkle water by the spoonful into the flour mixture.  Toss with a fork to mix, pulling the dough from the outside into the middle.  Continue mixing until the dough sticks together, but is not wet.  With your hands, press the dough into two mounds.  Roll each mound out on a floured surface until the dough in 1-2 inches larger than the pie pan you are using.  Carefully transfer the dough into the pan.  Ease the dough into the corners of the pan to avoid stretching the dough.

For a 2 crust pie:  After the dough is in the pan, trim the crust even with the edge of the pan.  Fill with filling and top with second piece of dough that has been cut with slits to allow for steam to escape.  Trim this top dough 1/2 in away from the edge of the pan.  Fold the top crust under the bottom crust to seal edges, pinch the edges with thumb and forefinger.  Bake as directed.

For 1 crust pie:  After easing the dough into the pan, trim 1/2 inch away from the edge, fold under and pinch the edges with thumb and forefinger.  Fill with filling and bake according to recipe's directions.

For pie that requires a baked and cooled crust:  Follow direction for 1 crust pie and then prick the bottom and edges of the dough with a fork to vent.  Bake at 400 degrees until light brown around the edges.  Cool and fill with your favorite filling.  

In a bowl, (I like to use a bowl with a flat bottom.) combine the salt and flour.
 Now add your shortening.  I used the Crisco sticks (I've heard that you Crisco brand or shortening is the best) and cut them into small pieces just to make it easier to cut into the flour.
 Using a pastry cutter (or knives, or forks, or even your hands) cut the shortening into the flour.
 Keep going until all the flour is incorporated and it looks like small peas.
 Now make a well in the center of the pea-sized crumbles
 Spoon very cold water over the crumbles starting on the outside edge and ending in the middle.
 Use a fork to pull the dough from the outside to the middle.  If everything sticks together (but not wet), you're good.  If there are still some dry areas add more water a tablespoon at a time.
 If everything sticks together (but not wet), you're good.  If there are still some dry areas add more water a tablespoon at a time.
 Use your hands to gently form the dough into two balls.
 Flour a rolling surface and your rolling pin
 and roll the dough out until it's 1-2 inches bigger than your pie pan.
 Now we're going to transfer the dough to the pie pan.  There are two ways (maybe more) to do this:  folding it into quarters or rolling it up on your rolling pin (my preferred way).  Try both and see which one works better for you.
 Once the dough is in the pan, carefully lift the dough and ease it into the corners (where the bottom meets the sides).
 The instructions from here change depending on what type of pie you're making.  --See above.
I'm making chocolate pudding pies which require a baked and cooled crust. 
So, I trimmed my pie dough 1/2 inch from the sides of my pan.
 Then fold the dough under and crimp the edges.
 The directions also require you to poke holes on the sides and bottom.  This allows the crust to vent and it keeps it from rising.
 Once these bad boys are baked and cooled I will fill them with pudding and topped them with homemade whipped cream.
 What do you do with the left-over dough?  I like to roll it super thin, spread softened butter over the top, and sprinkle liberally with cinnamon and sugar.
 Cut it into small strips, bake at 400 degrees for 10-15 minutes or until nice and crispy.
These are super good served with vanilla ice cream topped with caramel sauce.
p.s.- Once you're done, it's also a good idea to put your husband or children on clean up duty.
-Just sayin'-

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