Saturday, September 12, 2009

Tip of the Day: Perfect Pie Crust

Pie crust recipes are a dime a dozen. They come in all shapes, sizes and taste from flakey to crumb to Oreo cookie. The perfect pie starts with the perfect crust. To achieve pie nirvana, keep a few things in mind when making a normal pie crust.
Rule 1: Look for recipes with both butter and shortening. Butter lends flavor while shortening makes it flaky. Using an all butter recipe is fine as long as it has some sort of acid in it. (see rule 2). Never make a pie crust with all shortening. Yuck!
Rule 2: Find a recipe that uses some sort of acid, especially if you use an all butter recipe. Lemon juice and apple cider vinegar are most common.
Rule 3: Make sure the butter/shortening and water are ICE cold.
Rule 4: Use your hands or a food processor. Your hands work the best to smush the butter and flour together but a food processor is the next best thing. Just pulse a few seconds at a time until a nice crumbly mixture is formed. The key is to coat the flour with butter and not the butter with flour.
Rule 5: Sprinkle in your water 1 tbs at a time. You almost never use the entire amount the recipe calls for. Keep adding water just until the dough sticks together.
Rule 6: DO NOT OVER WORK THE DOUGH! Even if you have the perfect recipe you can ruin it by overworking the dough. Once it all comes together, stop! Flatten it into a disk, wrap it in plastic wrap and chill in the fridge for 1 hour. This gives the gluten in the flour a rest while firming up the butter again. Having a cold crust going into the oven is what helps to keep the nice fluting you spend your time creating. If the butter is warm, it melts in the oven before it can cook enough to hold its shape.
Rule 7: When you’re doing a top crust, brush with an egg wash (1 egg beaten with 1 tbs milk). This gives you a nice shiny, golden crust.

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