I finally made pie today. I know apple season has been in full swing since ages ago, but I just haven't gotten around to it until now. But alas, I have fixed the error of my ways.
Pie crusts have always been the single deterrent to me making pies more often. I don't know if it was because my mom always complained about making pie crusts, or if her inclination to always use whole wheat flour just made it way more difficult than it needed to be, or if I just never really liked the taste of what resulted in my dry, hard, sandpapery pie crusts.
Either way, I've experimented with several recipes, and I think I found a keeper. I've gathered from all the different recipes I've read that 1) butter is the only way to go and 2) everything must be cold cold COLD in order for it to be flaky. When the butter is able to keep in it's little clumps, this is what creates the little airpockets of layers of crispy goodness once the butter melts in the oven.
All that being said, here goes.
- 2 1/2 cups flour
- 1 Tbls sugar (I use raw sugar and really liked being able to see the large flecks)
- 1 tsp salt
- 2 sticks cold butter (I place them in the freezer about 5 minutes before I am ready to use them)
- Egg white wash and 1 Tbls water, whisked together (optional)
- Fill a 1 or 2 cup measuring cup with cold water and drop in a few ice cubes. You will only use between 1/2 and 2/3 cup of this water.
- Mix together all the dry ingredients in a large bowl (big enough to get your hands into the mix), and then remove butter from freezer and cut into small (1/2-3/4 inch) cubes. Add that butter to the flour mixture, and cut with a pastry cutter until an average size piece of butter is about the size of your pinky finger nail. It won't be consistent, but that's okay; don't overwork it.
- Sprinkle about 1/2 cup of the cold water over the top, and use a stiff spatula to work it in. Continue adding a little bit of water at a time (1-2 Tbls) until it all pulls together. You shouldn't need more than 3/4 cup total.
- Pull together and knead until it holds itself together; divide into two, wrap each piece tightly in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 45 minutes.
- Take one piece out of the fridge at a time to roll. Another note here: don't be afraid to be generous with the flour on the counter and rolling pin. If the dough is cold, it won't absorb too much and it won't get too dry and hard. To keep the dough from sticking, roll it out straight in front of you, then turn the dough about three hours counterclockwise. Roll straight again, then turn etc. This will keep you from having to scrape it off when it comes time to put it in the pie pan, while helping you keep it round.
After getting it into the pie pan, place it back in the fridge or freezer while you are rolling out the top piece. Again, keeping the dough cold is essential and will make a huge difference, I promise!
After assembling your pie, slice slits in the top, and brush with egg wash. Sprinkle with raw sugar, and bake as directed by your pie recipe.
My husband is serious about his personal apple pie.