Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Pie Crust

Beautiful fall weather returns and our thoughts turn to pie. Nothing says "get out your woolies, winter is on its way" quite as much as hot pie. Okay, that was way too sappy for me, but you get my drift.

So, I tried to drag the kids out to the apple orchard last Sunday, but no luck. Seems my two youngest have even now outgrown the simple pleasure of plucking apples direct from the tree, biting into its juicy crispness, and eating it right there in the orchard, thus stealing it from the farmer. I guess I'll have to wait for grandchildren to have the fun of seeing the little kids get excited by a wagon ride again. Time to get crackin', Meagan. Oh wait. You're not married yet. Well, the wedding's next summer, so I'm sure it won't be long after that. No pressure though, honey. Anyway, since I couldn't persuade any kids to go with me, Laura went. It wasn't quite the same, since she didn't want to take the wagon ride and we had to HIKE up the hill to the orchard. I hate hiking. But, I showed her, I complained the whole time, so she'll never ask me to go hiking with her again!

Having lugged home twenty pounds of apples, I had no choice but to make pie.I read a recipe for Ginger Apple Pie and was a little intrigued. But of course I didn't follow the recipe. Instead, I made my Super Simple Pie Crust and threw a filling together. For the filling, I peeled and sliced five apples and then tossed them with 1/2 c brown sugar, 1 tsp cinnamon, 3 T cornstarch (I was out of tapioca starch) 1 T lemon juice, 2 T apple cider and two heaping spoonfuls of ginger preserves. Next time I am going to try crystallized ginger instead of ginger preserves.

I actually made two pies and took one of them to a meeting I had to go to. One of the people there was very impressed that I had made my own pie crust. Now ordinarily, I would sneer and say, "Well, of course I made it, what kind of person do you think I am?" but my journey to homemade pie crust has not been easy. I tried and failed many times to make good crust, and once when I used pre-made crusts in desperation, my huisband couldn't tell the difference. So I didn't make pie crust for fifteen years. And then I got sick of paying too much for packaged, and having to go to the store to buy them. I sent my friend this pie crust recipe later that night:

Here is super simple pie crust. I used to use packaged ones, but I read and read many pie crust recipes until I understood what actually needed to happen to have great pie crust. Now, I cannot make a beautiful pie crust to save my soul, one summer I even decided to make a pie every day until I had mastered rolling out crust. Alas, I couldn’t keep up with a pie a day, (putting aside completely my families’ collective waistline) but I did make some progress. Tonight’s crust was not one of my better, and I don’t think I really like the ginger preserves in the pie, but as I said, it was an experiment.

Super Simple pie crust:

2 Cups cold flour (I use pastry flour when I can get it. I store the bag in the freezer so it is ready to go when I am)

1 stick cold butter cut into small pieces

1 tsp vinegar

2-3 T ice water

Put the flour into your food processor, add the butter and process with on/off turns until butter is thoroughly cut in. With processor running, add vinegar and just enough water so that pastry clumps into a ball. You can wrap in plastic and keep for a day or two, or roll out immediately. I use this crust for everything. Most crusts have 2-3 T of sugar added, but I find it unnecessary. I always brush the crust with cream and dust with sanding sugar, which I think adds crispness. My other tip is to use powdered tapioca instead of cornstarch in your filling. It thickens a little better. I hate runny pie!


Deb said...

Instead of having to use a thickener in the pie filling, you can cook down the apples or pears or even pumpkin pie filling a bit before putting them in the crust and baking. It really helps eliminate the soggy bottom crust problem, particularly with apples.

Slice, put into a pot with just a little water on the bottom, and cook until they're somewhat limp but not mushy, and you can tell that a bunch of the moisture has been released. Drain, and use the partly-cooked fruit in the recipe. You get more concentrated flavor this way, too, because you fit more fruit into the pie.

Optixmom said...

OK. Food Processor...check. Cold flour...check. Butter...check. Vinegar...check. Ice water...check.

Desire to make pie crust in my small kitchen...um...well...um...can I get back to you on this? ;-)