My New Favorite Pie Crust

IMG_6510Ta-da! I promised you something not-so-healthy after my Savory Lentils and Oats post (which some of you thought sounded gross or weird, to which I say: “don’t knock it ’til you try it”).  And here it is: a recipe for my new favorite pie crust, with a filling recipe to follow in a few days.

Many people have “their” pie crust recipe– the one they have been using for years, swear by, and have memorized.  That’s what I’m looking for- MY pie crust.  If making pie is like a relationship (and in this post, I will make my argument that it is), finding a signature pie crust recipe is a lot like online dating: you’ll have to go through a few duds (plus, I do a lot of my recipe research online).  Despite all the tips, tricks, and variations I found on the internet, however, this recipe came from real life- A BOOK.  More specifically, a pie book Forrest gave me for Christmas.  Which makes me double lucky in the online dating department: I don’t have to surf for pie crust or love on the sometimes harrowing waves of the World Wide Web.

I have a few requirements when it comes to my pie crust:

1). It must be all butter.  No lard or shortening for me, please!  Butter just tastes better.
2). It must be flaky.  Good quality for pie, not so much for people. 
3). It must be simple.  No fancy ingredients, no complicated steps.  Something I can memorize once I’ve fallen in love.

That’s about it.  And this recipe meets all of those requirements.

Now, some of you might think making pie is scary. And complicated.  And really just too much work.  But life so much more exciting when we take risks!  And your time will be well worth it in the end.

Pie, like relationships, requires commitment.  It might be intimidating.  You don’t want to be vulnerable.  Maybe you’re afraid of making a mistake.  That’s okay.  But you have to put yourself out there and go for it.  That’s what pie has taught me.  Just commit to the process. keep going even when it gets hard, and unless you really screw up (like, sleep with its sister or forget about it in the oven) you’re gonna end up with something good.  Pie, even when it’s only sort-of okay, is still pretty delicious. 

Pie Crust Step One: It’s okay when things get messy

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First thing you’ve gotta do is find some butter.  Two sticks per pie.  And start chopping until you have a pile of butter cubes. This will be hard- the butter will stick together, it will stick to the knife, it’ll become one big clump.  That’s okay.  Just keep going until you’ve cut it all into small cube-ish shapes.  Then stick your giant clump of butter cubes in the refrigerator to chill until you’re ready for it (sort of like waiting three days to call after a date?  Am I taking this too far yet?)

Pie Crust Step Two: Assemble the rest of your cast

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In a large mixing bowl, combine flour, sugar, and salt.  Whisk with a fork to make sure they’re all nice and friendly and incorporated.

Pie Crust Step Three: Meeting of the minds

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Now you’ve got your slightly messy butter and your perfectly melded dry ingredients.  Both great alone, but you need them to get together.  Put the butter into the mixing bowl with the flour.  Toss lightly with your hands to coat the butter in flour.  Now is the most tedious part: incorporating the ingredients.  Using two forks, or a pastry cutter (highly suggested), start cutting the butter into the flour mixture until the butter pieces are about the size of peas.  Don’t worry if the butter is perfectly pea shaped or pea sized.  No big deal!  

Pie Crust Step Four: Getting a little mushy

Now we need to turn on the water works.  In a small bowl, combine water and apple cider vinegar.  Add a couple of ice cubes to make sure it stays cold.  Start adding the water mixture 2 tablespoonfuls at a time (you will not use all of the mixture).  Add a little water, and then knead the dough to incorporate.  Do this until everything starts sticking together (about 10-12 tablespoons).  

Pie Crust Step Five: Chill Out!

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Once the dough is formed into a ball, split it in half.  Wrap each half in plastic wrap, and put them in the refrigerator to chill for at least an hour.  This is the point at which you can freeze the dough for later use, if that’s what you’re after.

I’m going to stop this post now because it’s getting long (thank you to those of you who stuck around this long)!  In the next few days, I’ll post tips and tricks for assembling your pies, plus a recipe for an insanely delicious fruit filling that will have you feeling like its spring!   Here’s a teaser, just to keep you interested:

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My New Favorite Pie Crust
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Ingredients
  1. 2 sticks unsalted butter
  2. 2 1/2 cups flour
  3. 1 tsp salt
  4. 1 tbs sugar
  5. 1 cup cold water
  6. 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  7. ice cubes
Instructions
  1. Being by chopping your butter into small cubes. Chill butter.
  2. In a large bowl, mix flour, salt, and sugar. Whisk with a fork to combine.
  3. Add butter cubes to the flour. Toss with hands to coat the cubes in flour.
  4. Then, using 2 forks or a pastry cutter (or your hands), break up the butter cubes into the flour until you have a sandy texture and no large chunks of butter left.
  5. In a small bowl, combine water, vinegar, and 2-3 ice cubes.
  6. Add 2 tablespoons of water mixture to the dough at a time, kneading it in with your hands or your pastry cutter as you go (I usually begin by using the pasty cutter, and then as the dough gets sticky I switch to my hands).
  7. You should add about 10-12 tablespoons of the water mixture total- but, this amount depends a lot on the temperature, humidity, etc. Don't be afraid to add more water if the dough it still dry, or to stop adding water once the dough is a nice, moist but not slimy, consistency.
  8. Split the dough into 2 parts. Wrap each half in plastic wrap, and chill for at least one hour (the longer you chill, the flakier your crust will be!). You can also freeze the dough at the point, until you are ready to use it. If you freeze, take the dough out of the freezer and transfer to the refrigerator the night before you wish to use it.
Adapted from Four and Twenty Blackbirds Pie Book
Adapted from Four and Twenty Blackbirds Pie Book
Degrees of Prep http://degreesofprep.com/

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