01 June 2010

Never-Fail Pie Crust

So, I'm surprised that I haven't posted this before now. It's really the only pie crust recipe that I have ever made. It just works so wonderfully: It's not fussy, you can use a number of substitutes, and it always turns out nice and flaky. Here's the basic incarnation.

Never-Fail Pie Crust

4 cups flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups shortening
1 large egg
1/2 c cold water
1 tablespoon vinegar

1. In mixing bowl, combine flour, sugar, salt

2. Cut in shortening until crumbs are pea-sized or smaller

3. In smaller bowl, mix egg, water, vinegar until in a single phase

4. Mix wet ingredients into dry until most of the flour is incorporated. Toward the end, you might need to gently knead the dry ingredients into the dough.

5. Separate into 4 balls, then roll on lightly floured surface (I like to use wax paper for ease of transportation to pie pan) and use as any pie crust

Now, for notes.

While this pie crust is supremely unfussy, in a warm kitchen, it's still nice to put it in the fridge for 10 minutes or so if it's a bit sticky. Alternately, you can use a bit more flour (it can stand it, but it's better to just fridge it).

For substitution on fats, you can use all butter, but it's quite sticky. If I did that again, I'd cut by 1/4 cup-ish. I much prefer substituting only half of the shortening for butter if I want a butter-y crust. I also know that my great-grandmother used lard, but the closest I've gotten to that is using the animal fat based shortening (pretty close, but I don't know how close for handling purposes). Honestly, that was the easiest fat to work with that I have ever used in this recipe.

When halving this recipe, still use 1 egg, but reduce the water to 1/8 cup instead of to 1/4 cup.

If I know that all the pie crust is going to dessert pies, I like to double the sugar. I've also accidentally doubled the salt (when doing a half recipe), and that's perfectly fine. It doesn't help anything, but if you do have a brain-fart like I did, it really is fine to go ahead with the half recipe.

For flour, I've not done a lot of substitutions, but I know that if you're using pastry flour, only substitute half! Otherwise it turns out very wet. It's salvageable by throwing in more flour (at that point I used whole wheat flour), but it made a bit of a mess. I haven't tried completely using whole wheat flour, but substituting up to a quarter is excellent.

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