Monday, May 14, 2007

Simple Pie Crust - Mother's Day Pie

Yesterday was Mother's Day. With all the to-do here about pie, I decided to make my wife a pie. It would be a personal homemade gift for her, and a new blog entry for me.

Win - win.

In any case I decided to make a cherry lattice pie. This had less to do with the fact that my wife likes cherry pie than with the lone can of cherry pie filling in the pantry.

Besides, I was going to go all out and make the pie crust myself. That makes it all better, right?

Don't answer that.

You may remember that I don't like making my own pie crusts. I always have trouble with them. A friend of mine, Micheline Savard, sent me a dirt simple pie crust recipe. It's similar (in one case nearly identical) to other pie crust recipe's I've tried, but so what? I'd try it anyway. Here it is:


2 cups flour
1/2 tsp. salt
3/4 cup butter

Mix the flour and salt together in a medium size bowl. Using a pastry blender, cut in the butter until you have coarse crumbs. Add ICE water just until it holds together. Press into a pie plate and make as thick or thin as you want.

I didn't have that much butter in the house, so I used shortening instead. I didn't just press it in, either. I divided the dough ball in half and rolled it out. It was nearly the same as a double crust recipe I know so I figured it would be fine.

Getting the pie crust off the cutting board and into the pie plate is always the trick. I've learned a few different methods of doing this. One is to roll the dough onto the rolling pin and then unroll it into the pie plate. The other involves folding it into quarters and then unfolding it into the pie plate.

It always looks so easy when I see other people do it.

For whatever reason, it never works out that way for me. I always err on the side of trying to make the crust really flaky. I love a good flaky pie crust. Of course that means that you can't add too much water to the mix, which also means the crust is harder to work with. Sure enough, this pie crust kept falling apart in the transfer. After two or three tries I gave up. I dropped the pieces int0 the pie plate as best I could and reassembled it there, sealing the cracks by smooshing the edges together. It looked more like a car accident than a pie crust.

After pouring in the canned filling, I started to work on the lattice top. Cutting the rolled out crust into thin strips was the easy part. Getting those strips onto the pie without breaking apart was an act of faith.

Apparently I don't have enough faith when it comes to pie crusts, because every one of them broke apart. Thank goodness a lack of faith in pie crusts isn't going to affect my standing in the church. I used several words at the time that I will need to repent of, though

Trying to weave them together was a nightmare. After a quick try, I decided to cut to the chase and laid several rows left to right, and then several more top to bottom. The checkered effect was there, but to say it was a true "lattice" is like saying a glob of melted steel is a true Rolls Royce.

Pretty, this pie was not. It didn't look that bad, but it was nowhere near as pretty as the picture you see at the top of the blog. I'm not daring enough to post pictures of my own creations.

It was flaky, though. Well, it was half flaky - half crumbly. Ugly it may have been, but mmmmm. It tasted good.

I have a confession to make. (Go figure. Have you seen the title of this blog? Duh!) Even though I made it for my wife, I ended up eating more slices than she did. More than my kids, for that matter.

Sorry, honey.

Mmmmmm . . . honey . . . .


Matt said...

Ah pie crust.

A few thoughts: Instead of using all shortening (which leads to a powdery pie crust, in my experience, try mixing a combination of butter and shortening.)

I always make my pie crusts in the food processor. If you pulse the processor, you'll be able to incorporate the fat quickly without overworking the dough (which is really what makes it tough).

Also, you probably want to try adding a little MORE water to the crust, cutting the recipe in half, wrapping them in plastic wrap, and letting them sit in the fridge for at least 30 minutes. Since butter gets hard at colder temps (unlike shortening) if you use a combination, your crust will stay together a LOT better. Keep the fat cold.

John Newman said...

Hey Matt!

I didn't know about the shortening making things powdery. Thanks for the tip.

It's funny that you mention a food processor, too. I actually bought one with pie crusts in mind, but some reason I've never used it for that. I've done cookie dough in it, but not pie crusts. For the life of me I don't know why.

I did put this last excursion in the fridge for awhile but, like you said, shortening doesn't really get harder in the fridge so it didn't help.