The foundation of a good pie is a good pie crust. A pie crust should be sturdy enough to hold the filling, yet light, flaky, crispy and buttery. Today in Cooking Class-Pie Crust, we lead you through the steps of our tried and true pie crust recipe that will deliver this delicious rhubarb pie. Music by Lynn Yew Evers.
The foundation of a Pie, the Crust-
Pie crust can be a very personal recipe that we never change. Most of us have a favorite pie crust that we've been making for years. Sometimes it's a recipe passed down, maybe out of a cookbook or something we found on the web. In Today's Home Kitchen we never say our pie crust "is the best," rather we encourage folks to try our recipe and techniques and see what you think. Although we think it's pretty darn good.
Experience led us to add cake flour to the mix. Cake flour often gets missed on the shelf in the baking section of the market, but it's used by home bakers and professional pastry chefs in many pastries and cakes. It's finer than all-purpose flour and milled to give cakes extra lift and lightness. Adding cake flour to our pie crust recipe results in a crust with a finer crumb that isn't as heavy as most pie crusts.
One of the ingredients in a pie crust that is the most controversial among bakers is the debate over shortening or butter. Some folks still use lard-rendered pork fat. The sound turns away most folks today, but lard doesn't really add much flavor, (not of pork), but does result in a flaky crust. Butter adds the most flavor to pie crust, but it also can create a heavier pie crust. Well, in Today's Home Kitchen we again use two fats to blend into our pie dough. We add both butter and old-fashioned Crisco shortening. Butter adds rich flavor while the shortening partners with the butter to create those light, flaky, crisp layers we want in a pie crust.
Butter or Crisco?-
We use a traditional technique when blending the dry ingredients with the flour and Crisco and we haven't changed our technique in years. We "cut" the pastry dough by hand using a metal pastry cutter. A metal pastry cutter is a must and works far better than the wire type pastry cutters.
Like everyone, when we're in a hurry we use a food processor to quickly pulse the butter and shortening with the flour. Unfortunately, no matter how hard you try, a food processor spins too fast, pulverizing the butter and shortening into tiny grains of sand. It's quick and convenient, but for our special pies, we prepare the pie crust by hand.
The final step is adding ice-cold water to the mixture. Put a few ice cubes in your measuring cup and in goes a little cold water. Most recipes tell you how much water to add, but that's simply a guideline. We say ½ cup of ice water, but it can be a bit more or a bit less, it depends on when the dough comes together to form a ball. Too dry and the dough won't form, too wet and it won't bake properly. Pour in the water a little bit at a time then use a fork to combine the water into the dough.
Rest it, Chill it, then Roll it-
Another trick-wrap the dough ball in plastic wrap, tight, and let it cool in the fridge for at least an hour. This lets the butter and Crisco chill and brings the dough together.
Bring the pie dough out of the fridge and let it sit about 15 minutes to soften. Use plenty of all-purpose flour sprinkled on the counter an on the top of the dough. Our recipe makes a double pie crust, so cut the dough ball in half. We start by forming the dough into a round, then roll it out.
Keep adding flour under and above the pie dough so it doesn't stick, and we turn the direction of the rolling pin. Your technique is fine, just roll the dough out about ⅛" thick. The best way to cut the pie dough is to place your pie dish upside down on top of the dough. This will guide you to how wide you need to cut the pastry.
We use a pizza cutter and cut the pastry about 1" beyond the edge of the pie dish, giving us enough dough for the sides and to hang over the edge of the pie dish when we crimp the edges.
Fill your pie and bake-
Gently lift the pie dough and place in the pie dish and add your pie filling. This is a pie filled with glorious wild huckleberries. A pie that is worthy of the best pie crust we can make.
Place the top layer over the filling and we're almost ready to bake. Fold the edges of the top layer of pie crust under the bottom layer and trim to about ½" from the pie dish. Crimp the pie dough with your fingers.
The Emile-Henry Pie Dish from France
We've never mastered a perfect pie crust edge, but we think for our pies they look just fine. Now one last thing to do-brush the pie with beaten egg mixed with a bit of water and a sprinkle of sugar. Regular sugar is fine. This gives the baked pie a golden crust. Cut a small hole or slit in the top of the pie to release steam while baking. We use a round cutter. You can also insert a pie bird into the center of the pie.
There are some steps involved, but this recipe is easy to follow and doesn't take a lot of ingredients other than a love for baking and the gift of a special pie for your family and friends.
The beauty of pie-
We all have a favorite pie. Mine is the Wild Huckleberry Pie that we make just once a year when the huckleberries are in season. But no matter what pie fits your fancy, Our pie crust recipe works for all of them, deep dish, one crust or two, cream pies, chiffon pies, fruit pies and even meat pies.
Wild Huckleberry Pie
Wild Huckleberry Pie. In Today's Home Kitchen, we only make two wild huckleberry pies each year with fresh berries picked just a day before baking. In late July, we make a pie with the first of the season's huckleberries. The berries are tart, yet sweet, with that unmistakable floral perfume unique to these little black pearls of gold.
For the pie crust-
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- ½ cup cake flour
- 2 tbsp. granulated sugar
- 1 tsp. salt
- ½ cup (stick) butter, chilled
- ½ cup Crisco shortening, chilled
- ½ cup ice water
- 1 egg beaten with 1 tsp. of water
- 1 tsp. granulated sugar
For the huckleberry filling-
- 6 cups fresh wild huckleberries, drained substitute blueberries
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 4 tbsp. all-purpose flour
- 6 tbsp. melted butter
- ¼ tsp. salt
- ⅛ tsp. nutmeg
- ⅛ tsp. cinnamon
Make the pie crust then fill and bake-
In a large bowl, combine the flour, cake flour, sugar, and salt. Using a pastry cutter, cut in the butter and Crisco. Cut the mixture until the pieces are the size of small peas.
Using a fork, pour in ice water a tablespoon at a time then toss with the fork to coat all the dry ingredients with water. Continue to add water and toss so that the dough begins to come together. Form the dough into a ball. It should be soft and come together but not be sticky.
Cover the ball of pie crust dough with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator to chill for one hour. This lets the dough relax and firm up.
Heat the oven to 375. Remove the pie crust dough from the refrigerator and cut in half. Sprinkle the counter and the dough with flour, then roll into a circle about ⅛" thick. Place your pie dish on the dough and use a pizza cutter to cut the dough about 1" larger than the pie dish. Place the bottom crust in the pie dish.
In a large bowl add the huckleberries, sugar, flour, melted butter, salt, nutmeg and cinnamon. Toss the mixture to thoroughly coat the berries.
Spoon the huckleberry filling in the pie dish. Roll out the top crust, then trim, and flute the edges. Cut a slit in the top of the pie crust to release steam during baking.
Beat the egg with a teaspoon of water, then brush the top of the pie with the egg wash. Sprinkle the top of the pie with sugar. Wrap the edges of the pie with a protector so it doesn't burn during baking. Bake the pie for 45 minutes until the top is golden brown.
Let the pie cool on a wire rack before slicing and serving. Best with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream.
We always use salted butter in our pie dough. Some pastry recipes call for unsalted butter, but we feel it doesn't have enough flavor and the salt content doesn't affect the taste of our pastries and pies.
Wrap the edges of the crust with a protector to keep it from burning during baking.
Save the juice from the drained berries to make cocktails and drinks.