Mastering The Art of Pie Crust

With the return of fall in our immediate future, we find ourselves craving time spent in the kitchen making flaky pies and tarts with fresh from the farmers’ market ingredients.

We believe that with a good pie crust recipe, the world is your oyster. If you’re a frozen, store-bought crust lover, we’re here to change your mind. Making your own pie crust at home is easier than you think. With just a few tools and simple ingredients, you’ll have a tender and flaky pie crust in no time. And, bragging rights to boot.

We like to process our pie crust in our food processor, as a personal preference. However, a pastry cutter will work, too. The trick is to make sure that your butter stays as cold as possible, however you prefer to make your crust. You can even place your bowl and pastry cutter in the freezer prior to using. The colder your butter stays while it becomes incorporated into the flour, the flakier your pie crust will be. Other tools that might come in handy include a good pie pan and a pie crust shield to protect your crusts from burning in the oven.

You’ll also see that we use vodka in our pie crust recipe. The reasoning behind the vodka is the way it bonds with the gluten. When water and flour bond, gluten is formed. Too much water, however, can make your pie crust tough, dry and difficult to roll out. Since vodka is only 60% water, it becomes that magical ingredient to add to water, and results in a tender and easy-to-roll crust with less gluten. Don’t worry – there is no alcohol flavor as the alcohol vaporizes in the oven.

One of our favorite parts of baking a pie? Deciding what style crust to decorate it with!

PieBootCamp_G

Clockwise from top to bottom:

1.) Some of our favorite decorative edgings – trim your pastry even with the edge unless otherwise noted (clockwise, starting from the top).

  • Try cutting out small pieces of dough into desired shape (leaves are always pretty!), moisten the dough and seal on the rim of the pie making sure to overlap each cut-out.
  • Braid your pastry edges! Use remaining pastry for braiding strips. Moisten the edge of the pastry and press on braid.
  • Scrunch remaining pastry together in a “looping” fashion for a waved effect.
  • Fork tines pressed into the edge of the crust.
  • Trim pastry, but fold under the edge. Pinch together with thumbs and index fingers.
  • Cut small slices on the rim and pull up every other piece.
  • Use a spoon to make indents.

2.) The classic lattice pie top – roll out your top crust to be slightly smaller than your bottom crust. Using a pizza cutter or sharp knife, cut the crust into even strips roughly 1-inch wide, or your personal preference. Just make sure they’re all the same width. Using a long, narrow spatula, carefully lift every other strip onto tart, using 5-6 strips. Rotate pie 45° and carefully place 5-6 more strips on top. If you’re feeling adventurous, weave them together like a basket in an over/under fashion.

3.) Adding larger cut out shapes (from a seasonal cookie cutter) adds for an interesting design. Place a rolled crust on top of the pie filling. Tuck the top edge of the dough under the bottom edge of the dough and press together to form a seal. Pierce the top several times to vent and then lay shapes over crust, making sure to brush with egg wash and a sprinkle of sugar.

4.) For open face pies, like our Pumpkin Custard Pie, we also like adding interest with cut out shapes.

Perfect Pie Crust

BasicCrust

Note: Recipe makes one double pie crust.

Ingredients:

  • 2 1/2 cups plus 4 Tablespoons all-purpose flour, plus more to dust work surface
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 Tablespoons sugar
  • 12 Tablespoons cold, unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
  • 6 Tablespoons vegetable shortening
  • 4 Tablespoons vodka
  • 1-2 Tablespoons cold water

Directions:

  1. Combine the flour, salt and sugar in a food processor fitted with a metal blade. Pulse several times to mix ingredients.
  2. Add the butter and shortening and pulse 10-15 times until the mixture is the texture of coarse sand. Add the vodka and pulse several times.
  3. With the processor running, add the water one tablespoons at a time until the dough just comes together in a ball, but is not wet. Do not process too long or the pastry will be tough.
  4. Dump the dough out on a generously floured surface and work into the shape of a disc. Wrap in wax or parchment paper and refrigerate 30 minutes.
  5. Preheat oven to 375°F and adjust rack to the middle of the oven. Roll the dough out on a generously floured work surface until it is about 1 1/2-inches bigger on all sides of a 9-inch pie pan. Gently transfer and ease the dough into the pie pan. Repeat with top crust.

Now you need some pie fillings to go in that crust!

How about…

Pumpkin Custard Pie

Pumpkin_Custard_Pie

Always best when served with a large dollop of whipped cream on top.

Ingredients:

  • 1 (single) pie crust recipe, precooked according to directions
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 2 egg yolks and 4 whole eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 cup Stonewall Kitchen Maple Pumpkin Butter
  • 1/4 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 Tablespoons granulated sugar

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 325°F.
  2. Heat cream in a small, heavy saucepan. Warm thoroughly, but do not simmer. Remove from heat and stir gradually into beaten eggs.
  3. Add Maple Pumpkin Butter, pumpkin pie spice, salt and sugar and mix well.
  4. Pour custard into pre-baked pie shell.
  5. Bake approximately 40-50 minutes or until custard is set. An inserted knife or toothpick will come out clean.
  6. Cool before serving.

Apple Cranberry Tart

AppleCranberryTart

Sweet apples and tart cranberries make this a Stonewall Kitchen favorite!

Ingredients:

  • 1 double pie crust dough
  • 3 cups Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and chopped
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/2 cup golden raisins
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 jar Stonewall Kitchen Apple Cranberry Chutney
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • Pinch of cloves and nutmeg
  • 1 egg white
  • 1 teaspoon water

Directions:

  1. Roll one pie disc until it measures 1 1/2-inches larger than the tart pan, on a lightly floured surface. Place and press dough in a 9-inch tart pan with removable bottom. Refrigerate 30 minutes.
  2. Preheat oven to 375°F.
  3. Combine apples, dried cranberries, golden raisins, sugar, flour, Apple Cranberry Chutney, cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg in a bowl and mix until uniform.
  4. Spoon into prepared shell, spreading evenly.
  5. Cut second pie disc into 1-inch wide strips for lattice topping.
  6. Using a long, narrow spatula, carefully lift every other strip onto tart, using 5-6 strips. Rotate pie 45° and carefully place 5-6 more strips on top. (Optional, weave them together.)
  7. Whisk together the egg white and water. Brush the entire crust, top and edges with egg wash.
  8. Bake tart in lower 1/3 of oven for about 45-55 minutes until apples are tender and crust is golden brown.

Fig & Walnut Butter Apple Pie

Fig_&_Walnut_Butter_Apple_Pie

Ingredients:

  • 1 double pie crust recipe
  • 8 medium to large firm apples, cored, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch thick slices
  • 1/3 cup Stonewall Kitchen Fig & Walnut Butter
  • 3 Tablespoons orange juice
  • 1 Tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 3 Tablespoons flour
  • 1 egg
  • Pinch of salt

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400°F.
  2. In a bowl, combine apple slices with lemon and orange juice.
  3. In a separate bowl combine sugar and flour.
  4. Roll one pie crust into a 13-inch circle.
  5. Line the bottom of a 9-inch pie plate with dough, trimming to a 1/2-inch overhang.
  6. Beat egg and salt together. Brush the bottom and sides of the pie crust with egg wash.
  7. Toss apple mixture with sugar mixture. Add the Fig & Walnut Butter and stir well.
  8. Place filling in pie crust, spreading apples evenly.
  9. Roll the second crust into a 13-inch circle and place on top of the apples.
  10. Tuck the top edge of dough under the bottom edge of dough and press together to form a seal.
  11. Pierce the top of the pie several times to vent.
  12. Brush top with egg wash and sprinkle with sugar.
  13. Bake for 45-50 minutes or until brown and bubbly.

Happy baking!

One thought on “Mastering The Art of Pie Crust

Share your thoughts with us

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s