Monday, September 14, 2009

The Best Pie Crust Ever

This is what you need to know about dessert in our house: It's the fault of my dearly beloved and his mother, or to their credit, depending upon your viewpoint. You see, he explained to me many moons ago that while his mother was an adequate (but not good) cook, she was a great baker. That, in his opinion, is what gives children fond memories of meals at home. Since I have no fond memories of childhood meals, I have to take his word for it.

When I started making dessert every night, I used a lot of boxed mixes. I still think highly of boxes; they are one of mankind's greatest inventions. It's just that sometimes I want something else. And, since I bought a pie and pastry cookbook at a used book sale this spring, I've been timidly inching toward trying my own pie crust. (Don't you just love old cookbooks with other people's notes in them? It makes you feel like you almost know the previous reader!) My dearly beloved adores pie above all other desserts. And with fewer people in the house, I can make pie. Let's face it, with 9 or 10 or 11 people in the house, if I don't have 2 pies for one dessert, people are going to be seriously honked off.

Lots of you left me helpful suggestions and encouragement last week. So, r
emembering that Paula was put in charge of pie crust as a little girl, and Linda said to use the food processor, and skip the fool pastry cutter, and Annette said butter can be used, I happened upon this pie crust recipe. Trust me, it's worthy of its own post.


1/4 cup butter, at room temperature

1/2 cup shortening, at room temperature
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 tsp salt
2-1/2 cups flour

1/8 tsp baking powder
1/4 cup milk
1 tsp lemon juice

In the food processor, pulse together everything except the lemon juice and milk for a few seconds. Then, with the processor running, drizzle in the lemon juice and milk. Let it form into a ball. Roll it out. This recipe makes 2 crusts - top and bottom, or 2 glorious pies.

Of course, I had issues in rolling out the crust - sticking, lack of symmetry, lack of roundness, stuff like that. I tried to beat it to death at one point.
But I persevered, and made two decent pies, and one that I considered a failure (although there were no leftovers). All of this leads to the question, from whence is the size of the pie plate derived? Outside diameter? Inside diameter? Top or bottom? Believe me, I have 4 different measurements on one pie plate, and I don't like this. The engineer in me is searching for precision in this endeavor.

Oh, and my dearly beloved, the world's greatest fan of pie? He hates pie crust. And he ate every bit of this, declaring that it is the best pie crust he's ever had. High praise, indeed.

Here's a hint as to what my first pie was. See you then.


Mickle in NZ said...

Hey- my pie crusts ain't great - can look like something Thor has dragged in.

I can agree with adding lemon juice - sweet or savoury short crust.

The bestest looking short crusts I've seen recently on the blogosphere aren't rolled out - they just press the very buttery mass into the pie pan*.

Super well done dear Marjie, and I'm guessing a lemony filling, umm (the great Kiwi UM)

Lemon Merangue (please 'scuse spelling, go phonetic, appropriate cookbooks not to hand)
*Will find them for you. Maybe a cooking lesson for the lads if they have very clean hands.

Enough raving!!!!

care, love and huggles, Michelle and Zebbycat

Ann Made Studio said...

Believe it or not the pie crust that works every single time for me is the recipe on the Crisco Shortening container. I have had success with this one for years, and it is the only one my Mom uses.
However because I've liked every recipe I've tried of yours and you had such success with this one I will try it :)))

Paula said...

You did it!!! I have to tell you, I laughed out loud when you mentioned that at one point you tried to beat it to death when rolling it out! Ah, that brought back memories! Speaking of which, my husband would agree with your husband that desert definitely creates fond childhood memories. My husband's mother used to take the left over bits of crust and bake them adorned only with sugar and cinnamon. He called it crust pie and the man STILL talks about it. Hmmm ... perhaps I could send him to your house?!!

Sue said...

I love any old books with the original owner's notes. It's like owning a little piece of history.

I always make cakes and cookies from scratch, but I use a boxed pie crust. It just seems like reinventing the wheel.

Pam said...

I love pie too but don't make it (I'd eat too much). I'll try this crust recipe out next time I make one.

It looks like you are making lemon pie...can't wait!

The Blonde Duck said...

I'm so happy.

Tatersmama said...

See? With your talents, we KNEW that you could do it!!!

I almost always use the Crisco can recipe that Ann's Fashion Studio mentioned, and it's definitely a good one. Butter flavored or regular...
But I have to agree with Ann... you've never sent me wrong yet, so I WILL be giving this one a try!

noble pig said...

Pie crust smells fear and then proceeds to take over. I started using one of those wooden rolling pins that has the cheesecloth stocking on it and more sticking and you don't have to keep adding flour....I love it!

Lo said...

Well, isn't that just a fine looking pie crust?

Gotta admit it, I've suffered from pie crust anxiety myself -- but one day, I decided to take a word of advice from Julia Child and just tackle it. Issues? Yes, a few -- but not nearly as many as I feared!

Kudos to you for tackling the monster. And I'm seriously looking forward to the lemony goodness that appears to be going inside.

Anonymous said...

I can hardly wait for some of your great fillings now that you've got the crust mastered:)

Katherine Roberts Aucoin said...

I'm simple, I cracked up at the honked off phrase. I've never made a real pie crust, the refrigerated one have worked for me, but I am going to give this one a try.

Miriam in KS said...

Rolling out the pie crust just takes lots of practice. Getting used to the feel of it, etc. Some of mine have been very "patchy". I always save the better looking rollout crust for the top of the pie!

I generally pat it as flat as I can before taking the rolling pin to it. Then I roll out enough to measure by the largest circle measurement of the pie plate plus at least an inch more in order to cover bottom, side, and enough to crimp edges. Then I trim the excess off with a small paring knife before I crimp.

Both my mother and my mother-in-law made/make delicious pies. I learned to make the crusts by watching and working with both of them.

Your pie crust looks pretty good and the recipe looks tasty! Congratulations!

Anonymous said...

Oh I can't wait to see what all that lemony goodness in the filling way. Have I mentioned that next to pumpkin (and I don't like pumpkin pie) lemon anything is my favorite? g

buffalodick said...

I love good pie- and my family doesn't! Because of this, My pie making skills are lacking... Wife's Birthday today- banana carrot cake- should be tasty- I hope!

SissySees said...

Et tu Brute? I guess this means I have to try to make one too. Yours surely looks beautiful, and I love a good crust, so...

Claire S. said...

Good for you Marjie ! It looks great!

My Mom is a great baker. My sisters & I have a lot to live up to. My pie crusts always look a bit mangled, but they taste ok. My biggest success so far ? The recipe that came in the book with my KitchenAid food processor.

& Mom always insisted - chill it for a bit before rolling out - at least 15 minutes. I think, it's supposed to help the shrinking when you make a one-crust pie.

tavolini said...

I still haven't tried my own crust. You make it sound easy...but is it really? I might get honked off ;)