Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Cooking School-Pie Crust

"I love the leaves I do not know why. Is it their colors or how they fly? They crunch and crinkle Under my feet; I pile them up And take a leap!"

Author: Beth Paulsen

Labor Day is a bittersweet holiday. I don't care what the calendar says, it officially marks the last day of summer. School is in full swing, which means my planner is bursting with new music students, practices have begun for the annual Christmas cantata, and I have to seriously start planning my recital. Production is in full swing for my mom's annual holiday boutique and the birthday parade has begun: Mine in September, my mom's, niece's, and husband's in October, my dad's, brother's, and son's in November, my sister's in December, and my son's in January.
For me, this is officially the beginning of the Christmas season. With all these special practices for recital and cantata, Christmas music is now constantly being reviewed, scrutinized, and chosen. Holiday-themed fabrics are out, names are chosen for the Christmas exchange, and plans are being made with relatives for these special days. The chilly nights make my fingers itch to get out the sweaters, scarves, and shawls. But best of all, soon it will be enjoyable to spend the day in the kitchen, again. Decorating cookies, trips to coffee shops in the rain, and taking the kids to the park to play in the leaves are things to look forward to in the cooling weather. That, and pie-making. I would be totally fine if we changed the name of the season from 'Fall', to 'Pie'. It just has a nice ring to it. You would see signs that greet passers-by, "Happy Pie!". It would bring a smile to my face. Spring, Summer, Pie, Winter. It definitely fits. But best of all, it would be a whole season dedicated to the art of Pie-Making!
Now, I know some of you don't share my fervor, and I have to think that a contributing factor to your lack of enthusiasm is the fact that you don't like your pie crust. Pie is the one thing we all have in common, whether you enjoy making French pastries or your holidays include tamales, pie is American. The problem is the crust. I know a lot of people who just don't like theirs, it won't work for them, or they don't know how to manage it. If this is you, try again. I sampled several crusts before I found one that worked for me, and I still play around with others, just to see if I find something I like more. I have said this before, my mom and I don't use the same crust. She uses a shortening crust that I can't do anything with.
Shortening crusts are a little denser, so they hold up really well to fillings. The problem with them is, well, they are denser. You don't really want a heavy crust, so you have to be really careful. Butter crusts, on the other hand are very flaky, but they can be crumbly, too. I have to problem with crumbly. Supposedly, a mixture of butter and shortening can yield a fantastic crust, that can hold up to its fillings and still be very flaky. I guess I should try it.
I have never had a problem with my butter crust, and it comes together in a snap in the food processor. Sounds like a winner, right? Well, here are recipes for four different pie crusts, starting with my butter crust. After that, its a cinch. Well, not all the time. I have outlined step by step instructions for rolling out the dough and baking blind (which is baking before a filling is in your pie-pecan, any fresh fruit, chocolate).
Your pie recipe will give you instructions for baking a filled pie.
Looking for a pie? Here are my recipes for pumpkin, my caramel apple pie, strawberry cream cheese, and this amazing pecan.

 After making your pie dough, refrigerate for forty minutes, then leave out for twenty minutes. (This is essential to your dough. It will keep it from shrinking)

1. Flour your work surface and rolling pin.

2. Place your dough on surface and lightly flour that also.

 3. Roll out the dough north south, east west, northeast southwest, northwest southeast, and repeat. Continue until your crust is about 1/4 larger than your pie dish.

4. Lightly flour then fold in half.

5. Lightly flour again, then fold in half again.

 6. Lay quartered crust into your pie dish, and unfold.

7. Trim with a knife to about 1-inch over the edge of the plate.


 8. Fold the edge of the crust by pinching it between your thumbs and forefingers, as pictured.

9. Continue around the edge.

 10. Preheat the oven to 400.

11. Fold parchment in half over and over, holding the center, until you have a small piece. Cut this to fit the inside of the pie plate.

12. Place inside unbaked crust.

13. Fill with pie weights or beans.

14. Bake for 20 minutes, then remove weights. If crust is browning too quickly, cover with foil.
If you need a completely cooked shell, keep cooking for 20-30 minutes more. Otherwise, follow the directions for the pie you are making.

Remember these rules when making crust:
  • keep all your ingredients cold
  • never knead the dough
  • handle as little as possible
  • always let it rest
  • don't be timid. Quickly handle the dough

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