Flaky Pie Crust

Last week I talked about that delicious fall ice cream, but neglected to include the pie crust recipe; I’m here to remedy that situation.

I use the same pie crust that my mom used, that her mom used, and so on and so forth.  Aren’t those the best recipes?  I love getting out the family cookbook and picking something from it, anything to conjure up feelings of sitting in the kitchen with delicious holiday treats being baked up all around me while I gleaned bits of baking wisdom and cookie dough :).  Here’s the thing though, about half way through the holiday baking frenzy, my mom would start to lose her mind and kick everyone out of the kitchen.  The reason?  Pie crust.  Seems to me that just about everyone else that I know has had a similar experience, pie crust is a challenge for the novice and the veteran baker, but with a couple tricks it can come together and roll out like a dream.

First things first, kick everyone out of the kitchen!  I think the big problem was my mom allowing us all into the kitchen for “family time” pie crust is the time to be by yourself, let the kids into the kitchen  when its time to lick the beaters after mixing up brownies.

Butter should be cool, but not cold.  Take it out of the fridge about 30 minutes before you plan to mix everything up.

Step away from the mixer.  Pie crust can be done in the food processor (my preference!) or by hand with a pastry blender, basically, you want to cut the butter into the flour not blend it in.

Lets get to it!

1 1/4 cup flour

1/2 tsp. salt

1/2 cup butter (cool, cubed)

2 tbls. cold water

Mix flour and salt together.

Add the butter into the flour, cut the butter into the flour, until the butter is about the size of peas.  In a food processor, you’ll hit pulse about 8 times.

Slowly add in the water, if mixing by hand, just keep using the pastry cutter, until everything comes together, you may need to use a spoon or your hands towards the end.  In the food processor, turn it on and let it run while adding the water in; everything will come together very quickly.

Once the dough has come together, form it into a disc, about 6 inches in diameter.   Cover tightly with plastic wrap and let the dough chill in the fridge for about 10 minutes.  *If making a crust for a pie that needs a lid, double the recipe and make 2 sepearte discs of dough, be sure to keep the dough that is waiting to be worked with covered, pie dough dries out very quickly.

The struggle with pie crust is keeping the temperature correct for the butter to stay cool enough to create all those flaky layers.   The temperature you want is just barely pliable butter.  Cool, but not hard cold, it should barely bend, not break.

Once dough has chilled for a bit, dust your counter top and rolling pin with flour.  Gently roll out the dough, continuing to rotate, flip and lift it, dusting flour each time.  Anything you can do to keep the dough from sticking.  I prefer a thicker pie crust for pies (1/4″) however for the bits going into the ice cream, really thin, so that it is nice a crispy.

Lastly!  While not necessary flavor wise, brushing the crust with an egg wash and sprinkling a littel sugar or salt (or both!)  makes for a very pretty presentation!



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