Thursday, November 13, 2014

Pie Crust

Hey there, miss me? No worries, I'm back. If you read my last post from a couple of weeks ago you already know that I needed a break. Just a couple of weeks to catch my breath. And whew, I did. It was nice. Sorry, I didn't post any "best of" collections, forgot to roll over my 401K and only partially got my house cleaned. Whateves. I did have a yard sale, feels sooooo good to purge and went on a date with the hubs, love that man. So. . .mission partially accomplished and that's good enough for me. I also had some time to cook without the added pressure of uploading to the blog. But I did take pictures so I've got some stuff to share. Here goes. . .

Since the holidays are just around the corner why not get ahead of the whole baking thing. Get some "stuff" in the freezer to streamline the process down the road. You can't quite get started on your finished desserts but you can get a couple of pie shells in the freezer ready to go. So get too it.

I tried a new pie dough recipe that I found on the Woodland Bakery Blog. I've searched a long time for a good "go to" pie shell. I really like Gesine's "Quick Puff" and will use that one again. But there's a lot of folding and rolling (I posted about it here.). It's good, and very flakey and I like the idea of using it for a lattice topped fruit pie. But, I wouldn't call it all purpose. However, this recipe came together quickly, used pantry ingredients and most of all, was buttery and flakey. All purpose. This is the perfect recipe to make, a couple of times over, form into shells and freeze for later. Check it out. . .

Super easy ingredients: Flour, sugar, salt, butter, shortening & ice water. Everything should be super cold.

Start out by putting the flour, sugar and salt in the bowl of the food processor. I've read in lots of foofy, fancy schmancy cookbooks that you should never use the food processor the make pie dough. POPPYCOCK! Don't you believe it. Dump those ingredients in.

The "fats", A.K.A. butter and shortening, need to be super cold. Take them out of the fridge, cut into about one-inch pieces and then pop them in the freezer for about 10-15 minutes. You want super, super, cold fats. "Super Cold Fats", I think that'll be the name of my rock band.

When the butter et. al. is super cold, dump it into the processor. . .

And process until it looks like this. A little "sandy" with some clumps.

Make sure you don't have any bits of butter bigger than a pea, like this.

Now, with the processor running, stream in the super, super, cold ice water, add just enough for the dough to barely come together. Start by adding an amount just shy of what's called for in the recipe, then more, a teaspoon at a time, until you get this consistency. Kind of dry but it will hold when pressed together.

Plop it out onto a well floured surface and knead it together, 4 or 5 times until it comes together and is smooth. Be careful not to overwork the dough.

Divide it into two equal portions, form them into disks and wrap tightly in plastic wrap. This dough should rest a couple of hours (overnight is best) before you roll it out. If you don't rest the dough, you'll end up with a tough shell that will shrink quite a bit when baked. Trust me, the dough needs to rest.

When the dough is rested and its time to make a pie shell, unwrap one of the disks and roll it out on a well floured surface. Always roll from the center to the edge. I always roll from the center to the top and then turn the dough about 45° and then roll from the center to the top, again. By kind of spinning the dough around you can make sure it's not sticking the surface and you can add a bit more flour as needed to prevent sticking.

Roll the dough a healthy, fat 1/8-inch thick. Somewhere between 1/8-inch and 1/4-inch. Size should be about 1-1/2 inches bigger than the pie tin, all the way around. This is a 9-inch pie tin that I got at the dollar store. It's perfect. I actually don't like a glass or ceramic pie pan. I always seem to get a soggy crust with those. These are perfect and at a buck each, you can buy several.

I also ALWAYS butter my pie tin before lining it with the pastry. Although pie dough generally doesn't stick, this insures that it doesn't (so you can remove nice clean slices of your finished pie), and it gives a nice crispy texture to the outside of the pie crust. Don't question, just do it!

To get the dough from the board to the tin gently and loosely fold it into quarters, sprinkling a bit of flour between the layers. Yeah, yeah a lot of videos will show rolling it up on the rolling pin then unrolling it onto the pan but I've never had luck with that. This is what works for me.

Carefully lift the dough into the pan, placing the point in the center. Now just gently unfold. Ease the dough into the pan, fitting it into the corner and being careful not to stretch the dough. Trim the dough so you have about 1/2-inch hanging over the edge and then fold that under all the way around so that you have a "double thickness" of dough around the rim.

There are several ways to finish off the edge but I always go with this. Its easy and it raises the rim of the pie crust so it's just a bit deeper. Just squish the thick layer around the edge using your knuckle on one hand the the thumb and index finger on your other hand. OK, just look at the picture. Got it.

There, done. Ain't it purdy. I like the rustic look this edge has. From here, there are three ways you can go:
1. Blind bake (for cream pies.) See below. 
2. If you are going to fill it unbaked, (fruit or custard: pumpkin, pecan, etc.) brush the interior with a beaten egg white and let it dry. It will create a moisture barrier and prevent a soggy crust. 
3. To freeze for later: pop it in the freezer like this, unwrapped, and let it get nice and hard. About an hour will do. Then wrap snuggly in plastic wrap and pop it back in the freezer. They can be stored in the freezer for up to 2 months. When ready to use, thaw on the counter for about 15-20 minutes before filling or blind baking.

I usually make 4-6 shells at a time and keep them in the freezer. It totes streamlines baking holiday pies. Just make all your shells now and you'll be set for Thanksgiving and Christmas.

To blind bake, heat the oven to 425°F. Prick the shell with a fork and then line it with parchment or buttered foil (buttered side towards the pie shell). Add dried beans or pie weights.

Bake at 425°F for 15-18 minutes until crust is set and just starts to color. Then turn the oven down to 375°F and remove the parchment/foil and weights. Bake an additional 5-7 minutes until golden brown. Let it cool and then fill 'er up. Chocolate cream, banana cream, fresh strawberry. Sky's the limit.

This pie shell is great for cream pies, custard pies, chess pies, you name it. I also used it to make quiche and it worked beautifully. Yes it has a small amount of sugar in the dough but not need to take it out. Completely undetectable in the quiche. So savory or sweet, this is my new "go to/all-purpose" pie dough. I've already got 4 in the freezer. 

Find the recipe here: Woodland Bakery Blog Pie Dough
Note: If you pitch off some dough and taste it, it's a bit on the salty side. Even using unsalted butter. If you're watching your salt intake I would suggest reducing the salt to 1 teaspoon. I you use salted butter, eliminate the salt all together.

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