Pie Crust

pie crust dough
Oh my goodness, it’s a Christmas miracle – successful pie crust!

It’s the holidays, y’all. And, as I’ve espoused in a few other posts, it’s crazy busy here on my end.

We just finished (!) tech week for Miracle on 34th Street on Sunday, and had our first day off from production today. If you’ve been in a show, acting or not, I don’t need to tell you how friggin’ crazy the week leading up to and including your opening night is. If you haven’t, you can probably get a pretty good idea: nightly rehearsals, a slew of new costumes, set pieces, and people added, and just plain (good) exhaustion, to name a few things. But all of this is to say that I haven’t had all of the time in the world for baking new things. Couple tech week with the launch of the baking business and traveling, and you’ve got nothing ready for the holidays, save the old standby cookie recipes.

ANYWAY. This is actually just to say that there will be more cookie posts in the future for this reason, and cookies coming y’all’s way, whether in gift form or order form (yep, I’m shameless), but not today. Today, I have a 10:00 matinee show for kiddos, so you’re going to get pie crust.

Yep. The pie crust I’ve been whining about for months. I did it. I made a pie crust that wasn’t the worst thing in the world to make, and I only swore once or twice while I made it, which I count as a win in my book. (Most people probably wouldn’t swear at all: I’m just that kind of baker.) I used it to make the Chocolate Pecan Tart (I made it into a pie this time) from my Thanksgiving post, and it was delicious, I’ve gotta say.

How did I make it not terrible? A few “rules” in the process:

  1. I often use at least one, and usually two, sheets of parchment paper. This is the same rule I follow for making crackers. It prevents the danged dough from sticking to my rolling pin and my counter, and it makes transferring the crust to a pie plate ever so much easier than, y’know, not using the parchment.
  2. Use cold butter. Like, really cold. Not frozen, but only take the butter out to cut it into the flour right before you need it. This keeps the pie crust flaky instead of gummy.
  3. On that note, if you use your hands, use cold hands, or at least make sure your hands aren’t particularly warm. Yes, it really helps.
  4. Only add as much flour and liquid as necessary to barely hold the mixture together when pressed and rolled. It’s going to be drier than you think. That’s cool. It’s better than a gummy dough sticking to your parchment or countertop.
  5. Use good ingredients. Pie dough doesn’t have many ingredients, so get the best tasting stuff you can afford – it’s worth it.

Other than that, you can use whatever machinery or hands you have to form the crust: I’ve had success with the food processor, as well as a pastry cutter. I prefer the pastry cutter because I have more control over the size of the crumbs, and it’s a great way to release stress, but you do you. I also used vodka last time as my liquid, which worked pretty excellently in keeping the dough flaky and not gummy or hard after baking.

Anyway, that’s about it. Pie crust does require refrigeration before using, but not a long stint, and it can also be rolled and frozen for future use. And no worries if you don’t get it right the first time, or the second time, or even the third. Pie crust tastes delicious even if it’s ugly, and you’ll get it. Trust me.

Are pies and quiches in your future? Sure they are! If I can do it, so can you. Let’s pie.

Basic Pie Crust (All Butter)

This recipe makes 1 single-crust pie dough for a 9-inch pie plate or tart pan. If you want to do a double crust pie, double the recipe. Yep, that simple. If you want it to be a bit sweeter for a fruit or custard pie, add the sugar; otherwise, omit it.

You will need:

  • 1-1 1/4 c all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 c (1 stick) cold butter
  • 1/4 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/4 c cold water or vodka
  • 1-2 tsp sugar (optional for sweeter pies)

Directions:

  1. Combine flour and salt in a medium mixing bowl or bowl of a food processor. Cut the butter, using a pastry cutter or by pulsing the food processor, until the mixture resembles course crumbs (the size of large, coarse grains of sand).
  2. Add water or vodka, a tablespoon at a time, until the mixture forms a ball in the food processor, or until the mixture just barely holds together in the bowl when you pat it down or mix it with a fork.
  3. Cover the dough in a bowl, wrap it in a tea towel, or do whatever it takes to keep it covered in the fridge for at least 30 minutes, or up to overnight.
  4. Lightly flour a countertop or sheet of parchment paper. Place cold dough on the floured surface and, using another sheet of parchment if you wish, roll out the dough with a rolling pin into a rough circle a half inch or so bigger around than your pie plate. Transfer dough to your pie plate, shape, and fill as desired. You did it!

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