Monday, November 22, 2010

One Pie Crust to Rule Them All

This is THE Crust recipe that I may just use forever now. On my first try, I used it on a pumpkin pie. On my second, I used it on a pot pie, photo below, instructions in another post.  Crust was great, but the pumpkin pie was not noteworthy. Thanks so much to Pim, for sharing it on her blog. Please go read it. Here's the link again:

I like it with salt added. I was eventually able to make it without extra water, as listed below. I use King Arthur All-Purpose flour.

For 2 crusts:
  • 8 3/4 oz plain all purpose flour
  • 1/4 tsp salt (I added this)
  • 8 oz cold SALTED butter
  • 1/4 cup water

For 3 crusts:
  • 13 1/4 oz plain all purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt (I added this)
  • 12 oz cold SALTED butter
  • 3/8 cup water

For 4 crusts:
  • 17 1/2 oz plain all purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt (I added this)
  • 16 oz cold SALTED butter
  • 1/2 cup water

Here's a photo of my turkey pot pie, using the crust recipe:

My notes on it:
I started out just like she describes. If you cut each stick of butter in half, then slice the halves length-wise into thirds, it comes out like her photo. Put water and ice into a bowl with a 1/8 c measure for later. Chill your left hand on the outside of the bowl, then dry it, before smearing into the butter.

The butter-flaking works, just dive in, and flip the flour over the butter often. Stop while still pretty lumpy. The folding will "work in" the butter more, later.

Add the water 2 Tbsp (1/8 cup) at a time. I used King Arther flour, which requires more water than a lower-protein flour. I've made the crust twice now, and I used 2 extra teaspoons of water the second time, before putting into the fridge. Both times, it just crumbled to dust right out of the fridge, and I had to add more water. I was sure it would be a disaster. NOTE: I made it again, actively folding the water in with the bench scraper/dough knife as I sprinkled the water on top. This time, with no additional water, it became a slightly crumbly dough, much more of a dough than previously. I went on to the folding without adding water, and it did smooth out. I did the tri-fold four times to get it smooth.

As I brushed off flour, folded, and rolled the dough, it smoothed out and worked nicely. A happy recovery from the dusty mess from the previous step.  But then I felt certain gluten did begin to develop. There was an unmistakable stretch and spring to the dough, and I saw it shrink back. I feared the gluten now spelled doom for a flaky, tender crust. But, this was a trial run, so I proceeded to bake my pie.

The dough was nice to work with, and transferred easily to the pie dish. I dumped the filling right in, no "blind baking" on my one-crust pumpkin pie. It browned very slowly, so there was no fear of burning it before the pie was done. It certainly looked lovely.

The final result was magic: a crust with enough strength to be crisp on the bottom, soft where the filling touches it, and a backbone at the edge. Once bitten, the crust flakes and crumbles into a light, wonderfully flaky, buttery deliciousness in your mouth.

I tried it again as a double-crust, on a turkey pot pie. Same overall experience as the first time. As you can see in the photo, the slits re-sealed themselves while baking. Next time I will spread them open more.

This recipe is bullet-proof, and the secret is this: it's built like bullet-proof glass! Thin sheets, 27 or more, of gluten-strengthened dough are the glass, providing strength. Thin layers of butter and flour keep the layers separate. It is strong, and yet crushes easily like glass. The filling soaks some of the layers, but like a bullet, fails to make it through to the bottom of the pan.

I love this crust! :) It makes me happy :) :)

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for writing up your experience with this. You covered a few things I had not thought through when trying it myself. I found your post when searching for the original - off to make a pie for dessert... company coming tonight!