Friday, September 17, 2010

(Almost) Fool-proof Pie Pastry

Okay, so yesterday I posted a recipe for Rhubarb Crumble Pie. But maybe I need to take a giant step back. How to create the perfect piecrust in which to envelope that wonderful rhubarb pie?

I remember watching my mom make pie dough. She and my oldest sister (26 years my senior) were the bakers in our family and they each had their specialties. Sis was a master at making cakes and cookies, and mom held the crown for most amazing bread and pies ever created. Period.

I've looked at dozens of pie crust recipes. A few contain simply flour, water and fat (shortening, butter, margarine, or *gasp* lard). Others are more elaborate and call for the addition of milk or even vinegar. Mom was a traditionalist with simply Crisco, flour, water, and a pinch of salt and her pie pastry was heavenly. So flaky it would crumble if you breathed on it.

Well, I remember Mom's recipe, and I've used her technique, but I also have made a pledge to myself to strive to use healthy ingredients, whenever I can, for my family. That's not to say that I don't splurge once in a while. But I've found that pie pastry is one place where I can ramp it back a bit and still come up with a product that would make Mom smile.

Knowing that olive oil is far healthier than margarine, butter (or certainly lard), I started with my Betty Crocker recipe for "oil pastry" and tweaked it a bit. Here is what I do when I make a one-crust 8 or 9-inch pie:

Easy Pie Pastry
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1/3 cup olive oil
2 to 3 tablespoons cold water

Mix flour and salt in medium bowl. Add oil; mix until you have particles the size of small peas. Then sprinkle in the water, just a little bit at a time until the flour is moistened and the dough almost cleans the side of the bowl. (If it seems dry, add a drop more oil--don't add any more water). Gather the dough together and press into a ball.

Place the dough between two sheets or waxed paper and roll out to 2 inches larger than your inverted 8- or 9-inch pie pan. Peel off top paper. Place pastry, paper side up, in pan. Peel off paper. Ease pastry into pan and crimp edges as desired.

If you want to make a 2-crust pie, here are the proportions:

1 3/4 cups flour
1 tsp. salt
1/2 cup olive oil
3 to 4 tablespoons water

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