Monday, March 20, 2006

A Word on Crust

Emmy Lou introduced me to this crust recipe when we started making pies together last summer. I think it's one of the best crust recipes I've ever come across. The apple cider vinegar makes the crust flakier, sort of like the 7-up in the first post, w/out the sugary 7-up flavor. As with any pie crust, it's probably best to let the dough chill a little bit in the fridge (maybe half an hour) before rolling it out; firmer dough means easier handling. However, I've had mysterious & disasterous results with over-chilling pie dough. Seems like if I leave a hunk of dough in the fridge overnight & try to use it the next day it's tough to roll out & becomes stretchy & shrinks when it bakes! Any of you know why this happens? Well, at any rate, here's the recipe:

makes 4 crusts, which means two double-crust pies or four single crust dealies

In a large mixing bowl, combine:
4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1 3/4 cups shortening
2 teaspoons salt

A word on "cutting in" the shortening: the trick here is to mix the stuff in with the flour until it gets this grainy consistency. I like to do it with my hands, but you can use a couple butter knives if you don't like getting up to your elbows in pie crust. Mash & separate the shortening into little bits and mix it in with the flour. The shortening's cut in when it's pulverized into pea-sized to marble-sized (probably no bigger than that) clumps. 

Okay, now you'll have to add:
1 beaten egg
1/2 cup water
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar

Again, I like to mix the dough with my hands, but a wooden spoon will also do the trick. You might want to knead the dough with your hands in order to mix in the remainder of the dry ingredients, though. Don't worry about mixing in bigger clumps of shortening. They'll turn into light, flaky layers when the pie bakes.

And that's it! I like to sprinkle turbinado sugar on top of the pie crust, to give it a crunch. You can also brush the top crust with beaten egg before popping it in the oven for a glossy effect. I'm interested in hearing more tips! Please comment if you have any.


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