Thursday is Thanksgiving. Time to make pie! Back in May I made rhubarb pie and I planned to tell you all about it. Well, actually Scott made pie while I supervised. Somehow I never got around to writing about it, but now is the perfect time to talk about pie crust. I know a lot of people are afraid of pie crust but really it’s not that hard. And I know I’m kind of a snob, but I don’t think a pie made with store bought crust is worth eating.
You can make the dough in advance and keep it in the fridge for a day or two (or freeze it for longer). I think giving the dough a chance to rest makes it a little easier to work with. Also I usually don’t get around to making my Thanksgiving pies until about 8 or 9 o’clock Wednesday night when I’m tired and cranky and easily overwhelmed, so it’s nice to have the first step out of the way.
Also, regarding the great butter vs. shortening debate, I am firmly in the all-butter camp.
For a double crust pie:
- 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 2 1/2 sticks cold, unsalted butter
- 4 to 10 tablespoons ice water
Mix together the flour, sugar, and salt in a large bowl. Cut the butter into small pieces and sprinkle over the flour mixture.
Use a pastry blender or two butter knives to cut the butter into the flour. Keep blending until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.
Then add the ice water, about a tablespoon at a time, until it just begins to hold together into a shaggy dough. Be careful not to add too much water, or else the dough will be too sticky and you’ll have to add more flour and it will be less delicious.
Use your hands to gather the dough together. Don’t knead it too much, just quickly gather it up into a ball. The trick is to not over work the dough. Mine often has visible streaks of butter. That’s ok. That’s what makes it nice and flaky. Divide the dough in half and pat it into two discs. If you’re going to make your pie right away, just put it on a plate and put it in the fridge to chill for about a half hour to an hour while you make your filling. If you’re saving it for later wrap the dough well in plastic wrap and refrigerate or freeze until ready to use.
When you’re ready to roll out the dough, sprinkle some flour on a clean, smooth surface and on your rolling pin. Slowly begin rolling the dough into a circle. If the dough is too cold and begins to crumble when you try to roll it out, just walk away and let it sit for 5 or 10 minutes. When you come back it will be ok.
Now, when I say roll it into a circle, what I really mean is roll it out into a big blob. It will not look anything like a circle. Don’t worry about it. Roll it out until it’s about 12 inches across.
Use a bench scraper or a spatula to carefully lift the dough off the counter. To get the dough into your pie plate without tearing it you can either fold the dough in half and in half again, and then pick it up and put it in the pie plate and unfold it, or you can drape it over the rolling pin.
If the dough tears when you’re trying to move it, just fit the pieces together in the pan and use your hands to smoosh the seams back together. You definitely should not try to roll it out again.
Fill the pie and then roll out the top crust. Your pie will need some steam vents. You can just cut some slits in the top crust after you put it over your filling, but if you want you can make decorative cutouts after you roll out the dough instead. This time we cut out little circles to make a polka dot pie.
Now lay the top crust over the filling. Use scissors to trim the edges of the crust so that you have about a 1-inch border all around
Then use your fingers to tuck in and crimp the edge.
Now brush the top crust with a little milk and bake your pie. If the crust begins to brown to quickly, wrap a long strip of aluminum foil around pie to cover the edges and keep them from getting too dark.
Mmm . . . pie.