Pie Crust 101


Slideshow: The Easy Science Behind Pastry Baking

      
by BC Farms & Food  -  Permalink
July 16, 2013

To make pastry, mix flour, salt, butter and shortening to the consistency of cornmeal with pea-sized lumps. By using your fingers instead of a pastry cutter, you can feel exactly when the texture is the way you want it.
Don't overwork the mixture. Leave in the lumps. If you get it too fine, your pastry won't be flaky. The lumps of butter create pockets that let in air during baking.
To create a flaky pastry, add the cold water all at once and mix with your fingers until the wet and dry ingredients just come together and you can form a ball.
Flour your work surface generously and press the ball of pastry dough into a circle.
With a few strokes, roll out the pastry dough until it is larger than your pie pan. Keep enough flour under it and on top of it so that it doesn't stick to the board or the rolling pin.
Fold the dough in half, slide one hand under, pick it up and place it in the pan. Unfold and tuck the crust gently into the corners of the pan so that it doesn't stretch when you pour in the filling.
Trim off the excess pastry. If desired, you can bake the extra crust scraps, sprinkled with cinnamon and sugar, for a snack.
Turn the edge of the crust under and crimp it with your fingers to make a pleasing edge.
Add a filling of your choice and bake according to your pie recipe instructions. To bake an unfilled pie shell, preheat the oven to 450ºF  (230ºC) and bake for 10–12 minutes.
To make pastry, mix flour, salt, butter and shortening to the consistency of cornmeal with pea-sized lumps. By using your fingers instead of a pastry cutter, you can feel exactly when the texture is the way you want it.

The prospect of making pie crust from scratch intimidates many home bakers. If you know the basics, however, it’s easy to produce delicious, flaky pie crust.

The thing to remember is that baking is a science. While you can be creative with what kind of fruit or filling you put into your pie, the amount flour, shortening and water in the crust are pretty scientific. Following a few basic techniques can make pastry making, well . . . as easy as pie!

RECIPE

Basic Pie Crust

Makes one 9-inch deep dish pie

1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup vegetable shortening
1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
5–5 1/2 tablespoons cold water

Using your fingers, mix the butter, shortening, flour and salt until it has the consistency of cornmeal with pea sized lumps in it.

Add the cold water all at once and mix until the wet and dry ingredients just come together and you can form a ball.

Place the dough on a generously floured surface. Make sure to keep enough flour under and on top of the dough so that it doesn’t stick. With a few strokes, roll the dough into a large circle, fold it in half, slide one hand under, pick it up and place it in the pie pan.

Unfold and tuck the crust gently into the corners of the pan so that it doesn’t stretch when you add filling. Trim off the excess, turn the edge of the crust under and crimp it with your fingers to make a pleasing edge.

Add filling and bake according to your pie recipe instructions.

To bake an unfilled pie shell, preheat the oven to 450ºF (230ºC) and bake for 10–12 minutes.

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