Sunday, January 3, 2010

A Singular Failure

Making a pie crust was something I struggled with for years. Puff
pastry, no problem! Buttercream, piece of cake! Pie crust, nope! It was a singular failure. Then it happened—I acquired a marble slab and my pie crust world began to look up. When a friend gave me a marble rolling pin, my pie crust misery ended. Pie crusts became a part of my culinary lexicon.

After much experimentation, I settled on a pie crust recipe and my fat of choice. I use only butter in my pie crust. No lard or shortening—I won’t use these ingredients. Lard is so unfriendly to heart health and shortening is a known carcinogen.

So, why butter? Doesn’t it have an equally bad health rep? I selected butter mostly for its flavor and the flaky texture created when the solid fats melt away during baking, but recently became aware of its other qualities. Due to alternative health experts, butter’s dietary and nutritional reputation is being salvaged. In recent years, many alternative health experts have taken a second look at butter and, when eaten in moderation, consider it to be a healthy fat with significant health benefits. Among some of butter’s healthful properties--it is high in vitamins E, K, D, A, an excellent source for anti-oxidants, lauric acid, iodine, and lecithin. Its saturated fats have strong anti-tumor and anti-cancer properties. These are only some of butter’s health benefits.

This is a wonderful pie crust recipe. It has wonderful flavor, fantastic texture, and handles extremely well.

Double Pie Crust

(Makes one 9 or 10 inch double-crusted pie or 2 single 9 inch pie crusts)

2 ¼ c. flour

½ tsp. salt

1 tsp. sugar

¾ c. COLD unsalted butter

1 tsp. cider vinegar

2 large egg yolks

6 tbsp. ice water

Measure cider vinegar, egg yolks and ice water into a small bowl. Stir with a fork to combine. Set aside.

In a bowl combine the flour, sugar and salt. Stir to mix. Cut in the butter using a pastry blender or two knives until it is the same consistency as coarse meal. Sprinkle with vinegar mixture over the flour. Stir with a fork to combine.

Use only as much water as it takes to form the dough into a ball.

If dough is too dry, add more water 1 tbsp at a time. Divide dough into two equal portions. Wrap dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least one hour and up to three days. The dough can also be wrapped in plastic wrap, placed in a zip lock freezer bag and frozen for up to two weeks. Thaw in the refrigerator over night and let sit at room temperature a few minutes before rolling out.

Let dough sit at room temperature to soften slightly before rolling. Lightly flour a flat surface—preferably marble. Roll out the dough from the center to the edges. Turn the dough and lightly flour the dough and the surface to prevent sticking. If the dough cracks or rips, moisten with a small amount of water and apply a piece of dough to “patch” the area. Dough can be reshaped into a circle using hands during rolling.

Place selected pie plate upside down onto dough. The dough should be about two inches wider in diameter than the pie plate. Remove the pie plate and fold the dough into quarters. Gently lift the quartered dough and place it in the pie plate, and center it. Unfold the dough, and gently press it into the plate.

Using a pair of kitchen scissors trim the crust to ½ or 1 inch of the edge of the pie plate.

Fold the edge under and crimp using fingers or a fork.

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