I made my first pie when I was a teenager. I knew my mom particularly liked pie of all kinds. Mom was a full-time Registered Nurse besides being mom to four fairly rambunctious kids and while she had dinner on the table every night, dessert like pie was a luxury her time could rarely afford. As a precocious 16 year-old I had no idea that pie crust was known to be “difficult” to make and that bakers around the globe talk about the secret to making a perfect pie crust.
I only knew mom liked pie and I would make one. Back then, the filling always came from a can of cherries or apple pie filling I would find in her pantry. The pie dough came from a simple recipe I found in a cookbook — belonging to my mom! I now have a collection of a half-dozen or so pie crust recipes I have made ranging from 4 to 7 ingredients! But honestly, none gives me the consistently tender-crisp and flaky dough I found in Dorie Greenspan’s book, Baking With Julia. Once I made this pie dough I knew there would be no other for me.
The butter provides the flavor while the solid vegetable shortening provides the flaky crust. This dough can be used to make a pie or tart, sweet or savory, plain or fancy. It can be made by hand, in a food processor, or a mixer. How flexible is that?!! This recipe makes four 9″ or 10″ pie crusts, enough for 4 open-faced pies or two double-crusted pies. At first it seemed like too much dough to have on hand. But I quickly learned that it freezes exceptionally well for up to a month (and probably a little more.) The recipe can also easily be cut in half.
The recipe outlines the method for making the flaky dough by hand, by mixer, or by food processor. I typically like to make pie dough by hand so I can feel the texture and not over-mix it.
I guarantee you I have made some REAL TOUGH dough through the years. Of course, I didn’t realize it then because in the spirit of teaching her daughter to cook mom always encouraged me to “make more” rather than discourage me. My brother’s were the only ones to complain about my baking, but that is another story for another time 🙂
Here it is, easy as pie. Four steps.
1. With a pastry blender, cut chilled butter into the flour and salt until the mixture looks like coarse crumbs. Cut the chilled shortening until it forms curds.
2. Add the ice water gradually and toss to blend.
3. When the dough is sufficiently moist — pinch it – it will stick together.
4. Lightly gather the dough into a round and chill before rolling.
If you are in need of letting off some steam, de-stressing and you want to mix it, beat it, roll it around or knead it — make bread. This is NOT the time to make pie dough. Pie dough requires a gentle hand, a happy spirit, and a little whistle while you work doesn’t hurt either 🙂 — That’s the real secret:)
Part 2 will be all the tips needed for making the perfect pie dough. Stay tuned ….
~Happy Pie Baking, Catherine
James 1:5If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.