Earlier this year, I took a class offered by my favorite gourmet kitchen tools store here in Glendale, AZ on making pie crusts. The teacher was Chef Pat Smith, owner of Patty's Cakes, a local catering firm specializing in pastries. (Pat's cinnamon rolls put Cinnabon's to shame and Pat and Heather have promised to hold a class in December and teach me how to make them.)
I have made Pat's pastry dough only once before when I made a quiche earlier this year. With the holidays coming up and my wife telling me that I will make a pie for Thanksgiving, I decided I needed a refresher.
Pat's Perfect Pie Crust
3 1/2 level cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon iodized table salt.
1 1/2 cups Crisco
1/2 cup cold water
1 tablespoons white vinegar
The sugar helps the crust brown. Be sure to use table salt, not kosher salt. Kosher salt is too course. The vinegar helps with flakiness and tenderness. Do not substitute butter for the Crisco.
Combine the flour, sugar, and salt. Add the Crisco and cut it in with a pastry belnder as shown in the adjacent photo.
The objective is to get it to look like course meal like this:
Whisk the egg, water, and vinegar together in a small bowl and add it all at once to the flour/Crisco mixture. Toss with a fork until just combined. It is very important not to over mix the dough.
Pour the dough onto some wax paper or parchment paper and press the mixture into into a ball. Divide the ball in half. Shape each half into a thick round disc. Wrap each disc in plastic wrap.
If you are going to use the dough right away, chill it in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes. Alternatively, you can freeze the dough at this point. (or you could go ahead and shape the crust then freeze it without baking.)
Flour your worksurface and lay the dough disc on it. Using your roller, and starting in the center of the disc each time roll the dough towards the edges. Start in the center and roll vertically away from you. Reposition the roller to the center of the disc and roll vertically toward yourself.
Turn the dough 90 degrees. Here you can see I'm using a scoop to get under the dough and help me rotate it.
Keep rolling and turning. Don't press hard, a light pressure is all that is necessary. For pies, quiches, and tarts the dough should be 1/8th inch thick. Pat showed us a great trick to help you accomplish this. Lay two 1/8th inch diameter wooden dowels on the worksurface, one on each side of the dough. When you've rolled the dough out until the roller is resting on the dowels, your done and the thickness of the crust is uniform.
Fold the dough in half and carefully place it into the pie pan.
Carefully press the dough down into the pie pan. It helps to lift up on the edge of the dough with one hand and as you let it back down, press it into the corner with the other. By 'press', I don't mean use a lot of force. All you are trying to do is to get the dough to lay nicely in the pan.
Trim the crust until there is about a finger-width of dough overhanging the edge of the pie pan.
Fold the overhanging dough underneath so that the edge is about even with the edge of the pie pan. Now it is time to get fancy. Here you can see me using three fingers to give the crust nice little flutes.
|What you do now depends upon how you are going to use the crust. If you are going to make a fruit pie, mix a small batch of apricot or red current jam and a little water. Warm the mixture in the microwave and then use it to lightly paint the interior of the crust. Add your fruit filling.|
If you are using it for a quiche like I did, you need to partially bake the crust now. Cut a piece of parchment paper big enough to cover the crust. Poke some holes in it with a fork, and place it into the crust, and pour in a couple pounds of beans. (Actually, as a tool junkie I should have a pie crust weight for this but oh well.) The purpose if the parchment paper and beans is to keep the interior of the crust from rising up from expanding moisture as it bakes.
I forgot to take a picture before I put it in the oven, but here you can see the beans and the parchment paper.
Bake the crust at 375F until it is just brown around the edges. And here we go: One very nice flaky crust, ready for tonight's Quiche Lorraine.