Prior to having children I worked in the restaurant industry, but I was not a pastry chef. I learned all the other positions, but one lovely gentleman filled that role. He’d come in at 3am just so he wouldn’t have to put up with our obnoxiousness. I usually only saw him for an hour or two as he finished off his day while we prepped for open. He’d keep me company as I sliced endless loaves of bread or sliced monster bags of onions into rings. Where ever John is, I hope he is well. I came home from the workforce with a colicky baby, then had two more kids in short succession. Only recently have I begun to carve out the time for cooking that requires a lot (in my mind) of hands on time. Of course, practice makes a job like rolling a pie crust go faster, but it has not been high on my list.
On to the great basic pie crust tutorial. We’ll cover lattice and other fancy things on another day.
I’m offering a couple options in the ingredients. Use all butter when a crust that more resembles shortbread is acceptable (almost always in my opinion). If you’d like a flakier crust, use non-hydrogenated coconut oil when a very faint coconut taste is acceptable and use shortening when you understand that there are trans fats and while they should be strictly limited, sometimes you want need a flaky crust anyhow. Got it? Good.
A rolling pin is nearly a requirement, but you can make-d0 with a wine bottle or other solid, cylindrical object. You’ll need extra patience.
Helpful but not required:
A pastry cloth and stockinette. I found mine at World Market for a few dollars and finally got around to putting it into use today. In the winter I like using a cold marble slab, but as I live in the very humid south, in the summer it just seems to attract condensation. Your mileage will vary depending on your climate. A pastry cloth is nothing more than a tightly woven cloth mat that helps you use less flour. The stockinette is something like a sock for your rolling pin. Heavily dust both with flour, brush off the excess and your pastry will neither stick nor become too floury.
Pastry Cutter or dough blender- if you are looking to buy a nice one, look for one that has thin blades vs dull wires. Your life will be easier.
- 2 + 1/4 cup flour
- 3/4 tsp salt (reduce this if you must use salted butter)
- 1/3 cup unsalted butter (VERY COLD)
- 1/3 cup unsalted butter OR non-hydrogenated coconut oil OR shortening
- 8 – 10 TBSP ice cold water
The first couple steps are very simple, measure your flour and salt into a medium to large bowl. Use a fork to stir. This distributes the salt evenly. Whew, that was rough.
Use the pastry cutter or two forks or two knives to cut the fat into the flour, keep working it in until it is in pea sized pieces. If you are using 1/2 coconut oil, there may not be a lot of pea sized pieces, just be absolutely sure there are no chunks of butter hiding.
Sprinkle 1 TBSP of cold water over the small side. Use a fork to stir in the flour.
Move more of your dry pile to the wet side and repeat until you’ve added 8 TBSP of water and your flour mixture is evenly damp. If you can pick up a small amount of flour mixture and easily press it into a ball, stop adding water. If it still crumbles slowly add the last 2 TBSP of ice cold water.
Divide the dough in half. If you are a particularly slow roller, press half of the dough into a disc and wrap it in plastic wrap and set it in the refrigerator to wait its turn.
Press the other half of your dough into a disc.
Place your disc shaped dough on your floured work surface, whether it’s a marble slab, clean counter top, or pastry mat. Place your rolling pin in the center of the disc, press evenly on both handles and roll slowly toward yourself. Turn the dough or work surface about 30 degrees. Repeat. Repeat a lot.
If you’re lucky, you have a mat with circles that show you when to stop rolling. If you’re like me, just place your pie plate over the dough occasionally and keep rolling until the circle is wider than the rim of the plate.
Roll, rotate, roll, rotate, ad nauseum.
When your dough is finally wide enough, roll it around the rolling pin and use the pin to transport the dough to the pie plate. This will help prevent tears. If your dough tears anyhow, brush it with a tiny bit of water and press the edges of the tear together. Ta da! You have instant pie glue.
Roll out the other half of your dough, fill the pie, and use the second half to cover the filling.
To seal the pie you can use your fingers, a fork, or get fancy.
If you are using a filling that has a long cook time (such as the frozen blueberries in the picture) use a square of foil to protect the edge of your crust. Fold the square into 1/4s and cut a 1/4 circle from the inside corner.
Unfold it and you have a handy pie cover.
Bake as directed in your pie recipe.
If you’re baking a single shell, follow the directions in the first half of this recipe.
What did you do for Fearless Friday? Don’t be shy.