Cherry-Cream Cheese Hand Pies

Margaux says…

I was at the farmer’s market yesterday and saw that sour cherries are still available around here.  I was surprised, because I know that sour cherries are only available for a short while…and we picked ours a month ago!  But of course I wasn’t thinking about the fact that there are a few different varieties of them, and the ones available now are a darker red shade, but still just as sour.  So, I wasn’t going to post this recipe because I thought the season was over, but we’re in luck around here!  Grab some this weekend and bake these…I promise you won’t be sorry.  The crust is heavenly, and I love hand pies because the crust to filling ratio is perfect.  And these are a perfect dessert to bring to your friend’s BBQ!  No serving hassle at all…just put them on a plate and watch them disappear.

sour cherry hand pies - sweet & savory kitchens

Sour Cherry-Cream Cheese Hand Pies

adapted from a Smitten Kitchen recipe for rhubarb cream cheese hand pies

The Crust:
3 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons table salt
1 1/2 cups unsalted butter, very cold and cut into small cubes
3/4 to 1 cup buttermilk

Whisk together flour, sugar and salt in a large bowl.  Using a pastry blender, two forks, or your fingertips, work the butter into the flour until the biggest pieces of butter are the size of tiny peas. Gently stir in 3/4 cup buttermilk with a rubber spatula, mixing it until a craggy mass forms. Using your hands, knead it just two or three times to form a ball. If it doesn’t come together, add remaining 1/4 cup buttermilk, 1 tablespoon at a time, until it does, then gently knead again. Divide dough in half. Wrap each half in plastic wrap and flatten into a disc. Chill in fridge for at least an hour or up to two days or slip plastic-wrapped dough into a freezer bag and freeze for up to 3 months.

The Cherry Filling:
1 lb. pitted sour cherries (about 4 cups)
1/3 cup granulated sugar
2 tsp instant tapioca

Place cherries and sugar in a medium saucepan with sugar and tapioca and stir to combine. Cover and cook at medium-low heat for 15 minutes, no need to stir. Increase the heat to medium, remove the lid and cook for another 10 to 15 minutes, until thick enough that if you run a spoon across the bottom of the pot, you can see a trench quickly form and disappear. Spread mixture on a large plate in the fridge or freezer to cool quickly, then scrape into a bowl. Keep cold until needed; it will be thicker and easier to “scoop” onto the pie bases.

The Cream Cheese Filling:
4 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon lemon zest
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1 large egg yolk

Beat cream cheese, sugar, zest, juice and yolk together in a small bowl with an electric hand mixer until smooth. Keep cold until needed.

Assembly:
1 large egg
1 tablespoon water
Coarse sugar

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Line two to three baking sheets with parchment paper. Beat your remaining egg and 1 tablespoon water and keep aside with a pastry brush.

Dust your counter or pastry mat with a lot of flour, unwrap the first half of your dough and start rolling your dough by pressing down lightly with the floured pin and moving it from the center out. Be patient about rolling, don’t press too hard, and it won’t crack as easily. Roll until 1/8″ thick. I cut mine into circles using a 3″ biscuit cutter, but you can also cut into 3″ squares using a pizza wheel or pastry cutter. You won’t have as much dough scraps left if you cut into squares, but I really wanted rounds. If doing rounds, you’ll have quite a bit of scraps, which you can form back into a ball, refrigerate for 30 minutes, and then re-roll and cut some more. It will make for slightly tougher crust on those, but I didn’t think it made that big of a difference. If your dough becomes soft, slide onto baking sheets and freeze for 15 minutes. It will make it easier to assemble.

Brush half the squares very, very lightly with the egg wash; these will be your bases. Cut a small vent in the other half of the squares; these will be your lids. In the center of each egg washed square, put a small dollop (a measured teaspoon) of cream cheese, then cherry filling on top. Don’t overfill! Top each filled base with a vented square. Press outer edge of top and bottom all around to seal with your fingertips or a fork. Transfer pie to a baking sheet, spacing 1-inch apart. Brush the tops with egg wash and sprinkle generously with coarse sugar. Repeat with remaining dough, including second half from fridge, and fillings (you will probably have some fillings left over…you can do what I did and re-roll the remaining scraps a third time and make a tiny little pie for someone who won’t mind tough pie crust, like my son. 🙂 )

Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until puffed and golden, and even more brown at edges. Transfer to cooling racks and cool to room temperature before serving.

Coconut Cream Pie

May 31, 2014

Coconut Cream Pie - Sweet and Savory Kitchens

Margaux says…

We really love coconut around here.  It seems like every other yummy treat I make has coconut in it.  Last week I made coconut almond granola (just tweaking my original granola recipe a bit, taking out cashews and maple flavoring and adding coconut extract and slivered almonds), and coconut cream pie.  Whenever I make a quiche, which is what we had for dinner last Thursday, I make a full recipe of pie dough and save the other half for a single crust pie.  I can’t believe this is the first time I’ve made coconut cream pie…it’s one of my favorites!  This recipe is simple, classic, and delicious.

Coconut Cream Pie - Sweet and Savory Kitchens

Coconut Cream Pie

adapted from Joy of Cooking

Prepare a baked 9″ pie crust.  My favorite recipe is this.

Prepare the coconut: Spread 1 1/3 cups shredded sweetened dried coconut in a 9″ cake pan and toast, stirring occasionally, in a 300 degree oven until golden brown, 20-30 minutes. Set aside.

The filling:
2/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/4 tsp salt
2 1/2 cups milk
5 large egg yolks
3 tbsp unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1/2 tbsp vanilla
1/2 tbsp pure coconut extract

Whisk together the sugar, cornstarch and salt in a medium heavy bottomed saucepan. Gradually whisk in the milk. Vigorously whisk in the egg yolks until no yellow streaks remain. Place over medium heat and bring to a bare simmer, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon or rubber spatula. Remove from the heat, scrape the corners of the saucepan with the spoon or spatula, and whisk until smooth. Return to the heat and, whisking constnatly, bring to a simmer again and cook for 1 minute. Off the heat, whisk in the butter, vanilla and coconut until the butter is melted and completely incorporated. Stir in all but a few tablespoons of the coconut (set the rest aside for later), and then spoon the filling into the prepared pie crust. Press a sheet of plastic wrap directly on the surface and cool to room temperature. Move the pie to the refrigerator and refrigerate for at least 3 hours.

Meanwhile, make the whipped topping:
Beat 1 cup whipping cream and 1 tsp coconut extract on high speed in a stand mixer with the whisk attachment, adding sugar to taste as it’s beating, until stiff peaks form (I like my whipped cream on the less sweet side, so I only add about 1-2 tbsp sugar).

Top the cold pie with whipped cream, and then top the whipped cream with the reserved toasted coconut. Serve immediately. It will keep, sealed with plastic wrap and refrigerated, for a couple of days.

Best Pumpkin Pie

November 26, 2013

Best Pumpkin Pie - Sweet and Savory Kitchens

Margaux says…

Pumpkin pie is one of my favorite pies, and we have them at our house more than just for Thanksgiving.   I like to use Joy of Cooking’s recipe, which yields a crispy, flaky crust, and custardy, delicious filling that’s not grainy or soggy.  The key is the blind-baked crust, which is pre-baking your pie crust lined with foil and pie weights.  I like to do this with all of my one-crust pies, ever since I read about it in Joy.  It really does produce superior results.

Blind Baking a Crust - Sweet and Savory Kitchens

 

Blind Baked Crust with Egg Wash - Sweet and Savory Kitchens

Aunt Suzy says . . .

I have made only a few pumpkin pies in my time. It seems for holiday gatherings, others make the pumpkin and I bake apple or pecan-sweet potato pie – like this Thanksgiving!  And I usually follow Mom/Granny’s lead and use the recipe on the side of the can of pumpkin. 🙂  I’ve always been satisfied with the results, but then I’ve never had this version!  One thing I will say is that I think pumpkin pie is best made with canned pumpkin. Every time I’ve had it with fresh pumpkin puree, it seems watery. How about you Margaux? What are your thoughts on fresh vs. canned pumpkin?

Margaux says…

I definitely ALWAYS use canned pumpkin.  Not only does it seem watery with fresh, but often grainy and stringy.  Yuck.  It’s really not worth the extra step, because canned pumpkin is just that…pumpkin, no additives.  You would have to have commercial grade equipment to get it the consistency that canned is, which is perfect for pies.  I was happy to see that there was a little section about it in the November issue of Martha Stewart Living…their test kitchen came up with those same results.

Best Pumpkin Pie - Sweet and Savory Kitchens

Blind Baked Pie Crust

1/2 recipe pastry dough, like this one

1 egg yolk

salt

Roll out pie dough.  Carefully place it in a 9″ pie plate, trim the edges leaving a 1″ hang over, fold it under and crimp.  Place in freezer and freeze for about 10 minutes.  Meanwhile, preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Take pie shell out of freezer and cut a large piece of aluminum foil.  Place foil into pie plate, shiny side down, carefully pressing it into the corners and leaving a good amount hanging over the sides.  Fill with pie weights, dried beans or rice (I keep dried beans on hand and use them over and over again).  Bake in preheated oven for 20 minutes.  Remove from oven, and carefully remove foil.  Prick crust all over with fork and put in oven again for another 5 minutes or so, until the crust is golden.  Meanwhile, beat egg yolk with a pinch of salt.  When crust is done, brush with egg yolk all over and bake for another minute or two, until the glaze is set.

Pumpkin Pie Filling

A note about eggs in the recipe: If you like your pie more custardy, use 3 eggs.  If you like a stronger pumpkin flavor and a denser filling, use only 2.  I like to use 3.

2-3 eggs (see note above)

2 cups pumpkin puree

1/2 cup sugar

1/3 cup dark brown sugar

1 1/2 cups evaporated milk or half-and-half

1 tsp ground cinnamon

1 tsp ground ginger

1/2 tsp freshly ground nutmeg

1/4 tsp ground cloves

1/2 tsp salt

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Whisk eggs together in a large bowl.  Add the rest of the ingredients and mix well.

While mixture is sitting for a few minutes, place foil around the fluted edges of the crust (or use an aluminum pie sheild…one of my favorite kitchen gadgets).  Warm crust back up by placing it in the oven for 1-2 minutes, until it is hot to touch.  Pour filling into the hot crust, place in oven and bake for 40-50 minutes, until center seems set but quivery, like gelatin, when you tap the side of the dish.  Cool on a cooling rack to room temperature.  Serve within one day, store in the refrigerator.

Whipped Cream

1 cup cold heavy cream

1 tsp vanilla

2 tbsp sugar

Place all ingredients in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment.  Beat on medium high until soft peaks form, no longer.  Serve dollops on slices of pie.  Store remainder in refrigerator in airtight container.  Whip with a wire whisk for 10-15 seconds when ready to use again.

Sour Cherry Slab Pie

July 22, 2013

Sour Cherry Slab Pie - Sweet & Savory Kitchens

Margaux says…
My family has a farm that dates back to the mid-1800’s. We call it “the Big House.” It is pretty big, and one of my aunts lives in it now. It is one of my favorite places on earth.  There are two Montmorency cherry trees there that were planted in 1967 for my Aunt Gigi’s birthday, and this year we just happened to be down in central Illinois when the cherries were ready to be picked!

cherry picking

cherry pickingWe got just enough cherries before the kids started going bonkers (Stella seriously needed a nap).  I always make pie with the cherries, and this year I really wanted something different.  While browsing Smitten Kitchen (I really used a lot of her recipes this week!), I came across this one.  OMG I will be making this again!!!  You really should try it before this very short cherry season is over! (It might already be…it’s taken me way too long to get around to writing this).

Cherries(Yes his shorts are backwards…oops!  Four-year-olds still sometimes have a little trouble getting dressed.  🙂 )

Sour cherry slab pie

 

Sour cherry slab pie - Sweet & Savory Kitchens

 

Sour Cherry Slab Pie

from Smitten Kitchen

1 1/2 recipes flaky butter pie dough, divided, patted into thick rectangles, wrapped in plastic and chilled for at least an hour in the fridge

6 cups sour cherries, pitted (fresh or frozen will work; if frozen, defrost and drain first)
3/4 to 1 1/4 cups of sugar (depending on how tart your cherries are.  I used 1 cup.)
1/4 cup cornstarch
Juice of half a lemon
Pinch or two of salt
2 tablespoons heavy cream or one egg, beaten with a tablespoon of water

Glaze:
1 cup confectioners’ sugar
1 to 2 tablespoons milk or water or 1 tablespoon water plus 1 tablespoon lemon juice

Preheat oven to 375°. In a large bowl, combine cherries, sugar, cornstarch, lemon juice, and salt. Stir to combine; set aside.

On a lightly floured surface, roll out the larger piece of dough into an 18-by-12-inch rectangle.

Transfer to a 15-by-10-by-1-inch rimmed baking sheet, (pastry will hang over sides of pan). Pour cherry mixture into lined baking sheet; set aside.

On a lightly floured surface, roll out remaining piece of dough into a 16-by-11-inch rectangle. Drape over filling. Bring bottom pastry up and over top pastry. Pinch edges to seal. Using a fork, prick top crust all over. Brush with heavy cream or egg wash.

Bake until crust is golden and filling is bubbling, 40 to 55 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack until just warm to the touch, about 45 minutes.

In a medium bowl, stir together confectioners’ sugar and milk, water or lemon juice (or combination thereof) until desired glaze consistency is achieved. Use a spoon to drizzle over top. Serve warm or room temperature.

 

 

Margaux says…

When I saw the recipe for this pie, I had to make it.  I’ve never had apricots in pie before, and the combination of coconut and apricots was intriguing.  The combo does not disappoint…it’s really delicious!  I love the tartness of the apricots with the sweetness of the crumble.  The pie is pretty easy to make, too; the crumble can be made in a food processor and you don’t have to peel the apricots, so prep time is minimal.  The Martha Stewart version also has shaved toasted coconut piled on top in the center for a lovely decorative touch (which I did not take the time to do).

 

Apricot Pie with Coconut Crumble
from Martha Stewart Living

For The Topping
3/4 cup plus 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
Coarse salt
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons sweetened shredded coconut (3 ounces)
1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature, cut into pieces
1/4 cup plus 3 tablespoons packed light-brown sugar
For The Filling
1 3/4 pounds apricots, cut into 3/4-inch-thick wedges (6 cups)
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup packed light-brown sugar
1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons cornstarch
Coarse salt
Directions

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Make the topping: Whisk together flour and 1/8 teaspoon salt. Pulse coconut in a food processor until finely ground. Add butter and brown sugar, and pulse to combine. Add flour mixture, and pulse until clumps form.

Make the crust: Roll out pie dough to a 1/8-inch thickness on a lightly floured surface. Fit dough into a 9-inch pie plate, and trim crust to a 1-inch overhang using kitchen shears. Fold edges under, and press to seal. Crimp as desired. Freeze for 15 minutes.

Make the filling: Stir together apricots, sugars, cornstarch, and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Pour filling into piecrust. Sprinkle with topping, squeezing some of the mixture into medium to large clumps and leaving a 1-inch border.

Bake pie on middle rack, with a foil-lined baking sheet on bottom rack to catch juices, until vigorously bubbling in center and bottom crust is golden, about 1 1/2 hours. (Loosely tent topping with foil after 30 minutes to prevent burning.) Transfer pie to a wire rack, and let cool for at least 2 hours (preferably longer) before serving.

Aunt Suzy says . . .

My Mom, a.k.a. Granny, is a great pie baker of the traditional persuasion.  What I mean is that she had a few basic pie recipes – nothing fancy – that she was well known for because they were so outstanding.  Growing up I didn’t appreciate this because I definitely liked cake better than pie.  If I did like pie, it was the cream or custard variety where I’d eat the filling out and leave the crust. Now it’s the opposite!  I prefer pie, love the crust and fruit filling trumps cream/custard.  When rhubarb season rolls around it heralds the fruit pie-baking season for me.  Last year, we posted all kinds of fancy rhubarb dessert recipes.  Time to appreciate the basic approach of this timeless and classic rhubarb pie.

Margaux says…

This is one of my favorite pies!  I don’t think I’ve ever actually made it, but mainly because I haven’t needed to…you can usually bet that there will be one of these at my Dad’s house this time of year, and more than once, sort of like apple pie in the fall.  So if I get a craving, I can just invite myself to dinner.  But I completely agree with Aunt Suzy…sometimes a basic, classic pie just totally hits the spot.  And this one fits the bill!

This recipe is geared to a 9-inch pie plate.  Adjust quantities up or down for other sizes.  Line the oven bottom with foil and preheat to 425°.

Ingredients

Your favorite pie crust for a 2-crust pie (see Margaux’s)

3-4 cups rhubarb

1 scant cup sugar

1 teaspoon grated orange zest

2 tablespoons flour

2 tablespoons butter, in chunks

NOTE ON THE AMOUNT OF SUGAR:  We like our rhubarb pies on the tart side, adding less sugar to the filling and then sugaring the top crust. You will want to add a little more sugar to the filling if you like things on the sweeter side.

Instructions

Roll out half the crust and line the pie plate with it.  Mix the rhubarb, sugar, orange zest and flour in a bowl and turn into the crust.  Dot with the butter chunks – don’t forget!  I can’t tell you how many times Granny or I have had to poke the butter through the holes in the top crust.  🙂

Place the top crust over the filling.  Crimp the edges and then cut slits in the top crust.  If you want to get fancy, you can cut a beautiful pattern into it.  Margaux’s other Grandma had a lovely traditional family pattern that she used.  My Mom took a more practical approach, cutting a few slits to make sure the steam escaped.  Sprinkle sugar over the top crust.

Place the pie in the pre-heated oven.  Bake at 425° for 15 minutes, then turn the heat down to 350° and bake for another 30-45 minutes until done.  (Electric ovens seem to finish closer 30 minutes, gas ovens take longer.  Start checking after 30 min.) Don’t forget to turn the heat down after the 15 minutes!

Enjoy warm or room temperature, plain or with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.  And don’t forget to leave some for breakfast (of champions)!

Aunt Suzy says . . .

When my guy Tatum told me he was making a pie for Pi Day (today, March 14) to take to his workplace, I thought he meant Pie Day.  I had never heard that there was a day set aside for ∏!!  And to think it’s also Albert Einstein’s birthday, making this a true day for smarties.  Then he told me he was making his famous chocolate cream refrigerator pie which is made with a surprise ingredient – tofu!  I had never had this pie and I had my doubts, but it is super-chocolaty and delicious. Lucky co-workers!

Margaux says…

This pie is sooo delicious!  It’s very rich and tasty…it almost makes me think of chocolate cheesecake more than a traditional pudding pie.  If you want to make it vegan, just substitute agave syrup for the honey.  I made it with my own granola recipe, and the slightly-saltiness of the granola really paired perfectly with the super sweet and rich filling.  This is a great pie to make when you want something sweet but don’t want to have the oven on for more than 30 minutes!

Granola Crust

1 1/2 cups granola, without dried fruit (he used one with orange flavor this time – great contrast to the chocolate!)

1/3 cup melted butter or canola oil

1 tablespoon honey

Process the granola for 15 seconds in a food processor or with a stick blender.  Add the melted butter or canola oil and the honey.  Press into a 9-inch pie plate.  Bake at 400° for 5–7 minutes.  Keep an eye out so it doesn’t burn.  Remove from oven and set aside to cool while making the filling.

Creamy Chocolate Filling

1 1/2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips or discs

3 tablespoons honey

2- 10 1/2-ounce packages silken firm tofu

Melt the chocolate in a double boiler until smooth.  Stir in the honey and blend thoroughly.  Process the tofu in a food processor or with a stick blender until smooth.  (Note:  some tofu is sold in 12-ounce packages.  In this case just use 21 ounces.)  Add the melted chocolate mixture and beat by hand till smooth and creamy.  Pour the filling into the reserved crust.  Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.  Be judicious with serving size – this is a very rich pie!

Margaux says…

Every year I make Granny’s Peach Pie at least twice.  It’s always been my absolute favorite pie, over all pies.  But every year, I say that I want a FRESH peach pie, one that celebrates the sweet, juicy, wonderfulness and deliciousness of the peach, a fruit that I absolutely adore, and that is only around for a nanosecond.  Not that Granny’s doesn’t…hers definitely has a huge peach flavor, and it is a wonderful pie (obviously, since I make it so often).  But my mom always talks about her mom’s peach pie, and how it’s like eating fresh peaches with whipped cream, and the thought of that appeals to me.

It took me so long to make this for a few reasons.  For one, I know I love Granny’s pie, and good peaches are in short supply usually, so I just stick to that recipe.  Secondly, my Grandma Major wasn’t particularly known for her pies (she made beautiful cakes, though!), and my Granny is…her pies are the best in town.

But this year I found a good source for peaches, and have been buying them in bulk weekly for about 4 weeks now, so I decided to give it a try.  I actually tried another fresh peach pie recipe earlier in July, but it was WAY too sweet and had way too much of the peach mixture that you pour over the fresh peaches.

Then my mom reminded me about Grandma’s recipe, and wrote it down for me.  OH MAN, is it good.  There’s still a few days left to get good peaches…you should definitely use them for this.  Next year, I’ll be making both Granny’s and Grandma’s peach pies, that’s for sure!

Grandma’s Fresh Peach Pie

One 9″ baked pie shell
7 peaches
1/2 cup water
1 cup sugar
3 tablespoons corn starch
2 tablespoons butter, cut into 2 pieces
1/2 tablespoon lemon juice

Peel peaches by dropping them into boiling water for about 1 minute, then taking them out and gently peeling the skin off.  Crush one cup peaches.  Combine water, sugar, cornstarch and lemon in a saucepan.  Add peaches, bring to a boil.  Cook over low heat, constantly stirring, until thickened and clear..2 to 3 minutes.  Turn off heat, and add butter.  Cool slightly.  While cooling, slice remaining peaches into pre-baked and cooled pie shell.  Pour peach mixture over sliced peaches.  Chill for at least 3 hours.  Serve with fresh whipped cream.

Aunt Suzy says

This recipe is another that my Mom found in the 1970s, and like Texas Cake, it has become a family staple.  It is tasty, easy and can be made with peaches only or with a handful of blueberries thrown in.  I made it Saturday with blueberries for my Mom’s 85th birthday and was shocked to learn that most of my family are peach pie purists – no blueberries please!  I made it on Sunday, peaches only, for a friend get-together and learned more people were glad it didn’t contain blueberries.  To each his/her own, so I say try it both ways and decide for yourself.

Margaux says

I make this pie at least once every July.  Last year I think I made it 3 times because Whole Foods had the best Southern Illinois peaches that I’d had since I was a kid when we would get them straight from the source.  I don’t usually do it with the blueberries, though…I’m also a peach purist!  This year I’m really itching to try a fresh peach pie, which is what my Grandma Major made…I’ll be posting that soon!

The Streusel

1 cup sugar

3 tablespoons flour

1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1 stick butter

Whisk the dry ingredients together in a bowl. Cut the butter in till crumbly.  Set aside.  (If it’s hot out, put in the fridge till ready to use.)

The Pie

1 9-inch pie plate lined with your favorite pie crust (if it’s hot out, place in the freezer till ready to use.)

6-7 peaches, peeled and cut into halves or quarters

up to 3/4 cups blueberries

2 tablespoons to 1/4 cup water, depending on how juicy the peaches are.

Place 1/2 the streusel in the lined pie plate. Peel the peaches by first immersing them in simmering water for 30 seconds.  Remove the from water, cool for a minute and then the skins should slip right off.

Cut the peaches in halves or quarters (I prefer quarters) and place on top of the streusel.  Add the blueberries, if using, then place the remainder of the streusel on top and then add the water.  I find less water is needed if using blueberries no matter how juicy the peaches.

Bake at 425 degrees for 15 minutes.  Turn the heat down to 350 degrees and bake for another 30-45 minutes.  You will want to make sure that the peach juice has bubbled up and sort of carmelized, so be careful to not underbake this pie.  Please note that this pie must cool completely before eating in order to “set up”.  Serve plain or with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

Basic Pie Crust

June 22, 2010

Margaux says

I’ve given a couple pie crust-making lessons to friends in the past, and have also had several requests to do so, so I thought I would write a pie crust-making post.  The term “easy as pie” isn’t all that accurate, in my opinion, unless you’re well practiced at the art of the pie crust.  I’ve been making pie since I was a kid, and I still think it’s tricky.   So if you’re first pie crust doesn’t turn out exactly like you’ve hoped, don’t be discouraged!  It takes practice.

I use a recipe from Joy of Cooking, Deluxe Butter Flaky Pastry Dough.  I almost always use this recipe, unless I’m out of butter…then I make a Crisco crust.  The butter crust has so much more flavor, and goes with anything from fruit pies to custard.  You can also use it as a tart crust. It’s all about the process…you have to be quick, and not work with the dough very much.

Aunt Suzy says

This crust sounds delicious and like something I need to try.  I will ask Margaux to give me a lesson next time I visit her!  I have used the Crisco crust recipe since learning it at my Mom’s side many years ago.  It has always served me well and the only variation I’ve made is to occasionally make it with lard, which makes an even better crust.  I use this approach sparingly because of lack of availability and that it’s not that good for you!   But then I might argue the same for 2 sticks of butter or of Crisco.  Pie crust, however, is good for the soul and what would life be like without pie?!!

Deluxe Butter Flaky Pastry Dough

Makes two 9-inch pie crusts, or two 9 1/2- or 10 inch tart crusts, or one covered pie crust

Using a rubber spatula, thoroughly mix in a large bowl:

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon white sugar or 1 tablespoon powdered sugar
1 teaspoon salt

Working quickly to prevent softening, cut into 1/4-inch pieces:

1/2 pound (2 sticks) cold unsalted butter

Add the butter to the dry ingredients. Using a pastry blender or 2 knives, chop the butter into pea-sized pieces.

Add:

1/4 cup solid vegetable shortening

With a few quick swipes of the pastry blender [or two butter knives], cut the shortening into large chunks and distribute throughout the bowl. Continue to chop until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs with some pea-sized pieces. Do not let the mixture soften and begin to clump; it must remain dry and powdery.

Drizzle over the flour and fat mixture:

1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon ice water

Cut with the blade side of the rubber spatula until the mixture looks evenly moistened and begins to form small balls. Press down on the dough with the flat side of the spatula. (This is where most people use their hands…I always use a spatula because your hands are hot and the butter will immediately start to melt, which is NOT good.)

If the balls of dough stick together, you have added enough water; if they do not, drizzle over the top:

1 to 2 tablespoons ice water

Cut in the water, then press with your hands until the dough coheres. The dough should look rough, not smooth. Divide the dough in half, press each half into a thick, flat disk, and wrap tightly in plastic. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes, preferably for several hours, or for up to 2 days before rolling. [Don’t skip this step] The dough can also be wrapped airtight and frozen for up to 6 months; thaw completely before rolling.

For single crust pie:

Make half recipe of deluxe butter pastry dough.  Refrigerate dough for at least 30 minutes.  Roll out dough, then place in 9 inch pie plate, trim edges so there’s about an inch or more overhang.  Tuck overhang under.  Refrigerate another 30 minutes.  Meanwhile, preheat oven to 400.  Take pie shell out, and crimp edges (or however you want it to look!).  Line with foil, making sure there’s enough overhang to cover the edges, and fill with pie weights (or rice or beans).  Bake for 20 minutes, then take out and carefully remove foil and weights.  Pierce bottom all over with a fork, then place back in oven for 5-10 minutes, until nicely browned.