As I re-read my prior post, “Razzle Dazzle,” confessing my fear of piecrusts, I realized that I may have left some readers wondering, “So, what ARE the secrets to the piecrust that helped Fannie to overcome her fear?”
So…here goes…courtesy of King Arthur Flour (KAF)…
8 T unsalted butter (KAF recommends using a bench knife to cut a stick of butter into lengthwise strips, flip the stick of butter onto it’s side and repeat, resulting in 12-16 lengthwise “match sticks” of butter, then cut across the strips to get “pea-sized” chunks. Since then I have also heard others recommend “grating” the cold stick of butter on the large grate of a box grater; I’m going to try this next time)
1/2 cup vegetable shortening (I used lard, in honor of my Nanny)
3 cups unbleached all purpose flour or a combineation of all purpose and unbleached pastry flours
1 tsp salt
2 tsp vinegar
1/4 – 1/2 cup ICE water
Cut the butter (or grate) as described, above. Place cut/grated butter into the freezer. Measure shortening (or lard) and place in the freezer. Leave the fats to firm up for at least 20 minutes.
Place flour and salt in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the chopping blade. Turn on the machine for 5 seconds to mix dry ingredients. Add the chilled fats, pulse for two seconds at a time, four times. Sprinkle the vinegar and 4 Tbsp ice water over the dough. Pulse once more for only one second.
Take the mixure out of the machine and transfer to a mixing bowl. Dough will look crumbly and butter should be visible in rounded chunks. Gather dough in your hands. If it is still too crumbly to hold together, sprinkle with 1 Tbsp ice water, mixing the dough with a fork; repeat 1 Tbsp at a time until the dough can be gathered together in a ball.
Here’s the BIG warning, that which made me lose sleep at night, to tremble in my kitchen slippers: Don’t work or knead the dough more then necessary …IT WILL BE TOUGH.
Divide the dough into two pieces and form each of them into a disk. Wrap each disk in plastic and refrigerate at least 30 minutes before rolling out.
Flour work surface and work with one disk at a time. Unwrap from plastic and place on floured surface. When rolling, aim for pie crust that is 3-4 inches greater then the inside diameter of the pie pan. Be forceful, but make it brief, rolling from the center outward, with as few strokes as possible being used to stretch the crust. Don’t roll back and forth endlessly, roll in one direction from the center. Don’t beat the piecrust up! Use a large spatula every few strokes to lift the crust up from the well-floured surface, to make sure crust is not sticking, adding a small amount of flour to the surface, if needed.
To transfer the rolled out piecrust to the pan, fold dough gently in half and then in half again the other way. Pick the dough up and place the center square corner in the center of the pie pan and unfold. Believe me, this is where the silicone rolling mat is worth it’s weight in gold…lifting the mat up to assist in the folding process makes it a snap!
Brush the inside of the crust with lightly beaten egg white or milk. Add pie filling and repeat the rolling out/transferring to pie plate process with the top crust.
Follow the baking instructions for your particular pie recipe.
There you go, friends! Truly, a practically “fail safe” piecrust. If I can do it, Bloody Mary free, so can you!