The pie crust recipe -- and techniques -- that restored my pie crusts to the flaky, tender wonders that pie crusts should be. The recipe uses half butter (for flavor) and half shortening (for flakiness) and just enough water (for tenderness).
When my pastry prowess went missing for far too long, I consulted the 'Pastry Whisperer', Anne Cori of Kitchen Conservatory, the St. Louis cooking school and kitchen store. In an hour, she shared a treasure of pie crust tips and tricks.
After I applied a new calm and assertive pastry energy, an achingly tender double-crust American Apple Pie emerged from the oven. I delivered warm slices to the neighbors. My back-door neighbor doesn’t eat pie but polished off two slices with her fingers on the spot. My west-door neighbor called it ‘heavenly’. Five doors down, a fellow pie-maker called it the ‘best pie I’ve ever eaten’.
Good pastry takes practice but it’s worth it when people take their first bites of pie, then close their eyes to give thanks to the pastry gods.
My pastry still ranks only an A minus but that’s up from a C. The improvement alone is worth the practice, just ask my neighbors.
FOR ST LOUISANS Every year on the day before Thanksgiving, Anne teaches a hands-on pie class from noon til four for $125. Arrive with three pie plates, take home three homemade pies, apple, pumpkin and cranberry walnut. To register, call 314-862-COOK or visit KitchenConservatory.com.
PIE CRUST TOOLS Many of the pie-making tools used in this recipe are featured on a special page on Kitchen Conservatory's website. Look for an extra-large silicone mat called a Rollpat, a bench knife, a flour duster, a gravy separator and a stainless steel pastry blender. There's also a video where Anne demonstrates how to make this recipe for flaky, tender pie crust.
FLAKY TENDER PIE CRUST
Makes two crusts fitting 9-10” pie pans
- 2 – 4 tablespoons ice water
- 2 cups flour
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 4 ounces (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into 16 pieces
- 1/2 cup Crisco shortening
- Egg wash of 1 yolk whisked with 1 tablespoon water
In a large bowl, stir together one cup of flour, sugar and salt. With a hand-held pastry blender, cut butter into flour until butter is dime-sized. Add shortening, cut into mixture til dime-sized. Lightly stir in remaining flour. Sprinkle with half the water. With a full palm, squeeze flour together against side of bowl. Rub hands together to drop damp flour into mixture. Drops at a time, add just enough water to hold together; the less water the better, dry crumbs on the bottom are good.
Refrigerate while making your desired filling. Preheat oven to 375F.
Place silicone mat on counter; sprinkle with flour. Cut dough in half, return second piece to frig. Sprinkle dough with flour. Working in just one direction, roll dough into an oval the diameter of the pie plate plus its sides. Slip a bench knife beneath dough to loosen, turn 90 degrees. Roll again to form a circle. Brush off excess flour. Place pie plate to left. Palm up, place right hand below silicone mat and gently flip dough onto pie plate. If needed, gently reposition and patch pastry. Brush off excess flour. Refrigerate.
Roll out top crust. Fill bottom crust with your filling. Gently flip top crust over filling, brush off excess flour. Trim excess pastry, then turn under and press to form and seal the edge. Crimp decoratively. Slice top to vent. Brush top (but not edges) with egg wash.
Bake 45 minutes or until top crust is golden brown and juices inside are bubbling.
For 2 single crusts, 8 slices each, pastry only, per slice: 176 Cal; 2g Protein; 13g Tot Fat; 5g Sat Fat; 14g Carb; 0g Fiber; 148mg Sodium; 15mg Cholesterol; Weight Watchers 4 points
In My Family, Pie = Love
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