Did the title terrify you? Seems like it should be easy enough. After all, there are only four, possibly five very common pantry ingredients in the recipe.
Flour – don’t buy the cheapest flour you can find. Stick to an unbleached all-purpose flour and get a good brand like Pillsbury or King Arthur. Some people swear by pastry flour, this recipe is formulated for unbleached, all-purpose flour.
Fat – I prefer vegetable shortening, but you can use a high quality, unsalted butter or a combination of both. Again, there are only a few ingredients to this recipe so don’t buy the cheapest, most generic brand you can find. You’ll be able to taste it.
Water – use ice-cold filtered water to be sure you aren’t getting any chlorine from a public system or iron from your well water.
Salt – Kosher is my preference, but sea salt also works well. You may have to adjust your measurement depending on the size of the grain of the salt you use.
Sugar (optional) – this enhances the flavor and increases the browning of the crust – I sprinkle some on top for a shiny, jewel like finish and a hint of sweetness, but I do not mix any into the recipe itself.
- COLD water, COLD flour and COLD fat – just do it!
- Minimal mixing and minimal handling – resist the urge to knead, pat, press and otherwise manhandle your product at any stage. This is not bread making.
- Roll the crust between parchment paper rather than adding flour to your rolling pin or a board.
- If you can, chill the crust before filling and baking it. I even like to start with a frozen crust if possible.
- Sprinkle a little bit of the flour/sugar mixture into the bottom of your shell to help keep it from getting soggy and to thicken the fruit juices.
- Place your cold, fruit filled pie shell into the lower 1/3 of a hot oven (425 degrees) and bake for 15 minutes to get the crust firm enough to withstand the juices that will be released in a few minutes.
- Lower the temp to 325 or 350 degrees (if your oven runs hot or cool, you can adjust within this 25 degree range) and bake until the crust is brown and the fruit juices are bubbling. MAKE SURE you have placed some ventilation slits in the top crust to prevent splitting.
- Allow the pie to sit undisturbed for at least 30 minutes, but preferably until it is cool. This will ensure the fruit juices have congealed properly and you don’t have a soupy mess.
Basic Pie Pastry
- 2 cups unbleached, all-purpose flour (recommended Pillsbury or King Arthur) – no substitutes
- 3/4 cup vegetable shortening, divided into 1/2 cup and 1/4 cup, chilled
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- up to 1/4 cup ice cold, filtered water
Sift together the flour and the salt. Using a pastry cutter or a fork (or very cold hands if you must), mix in 1/2 cup of vegetable shortening until the size of small peas. Then, mix in the last 1/4 cup of shortening until the texture of coarse sand or small pebbles. Using a fork and moving it constantly, dribble in the water until the flour/shortening grains are moistened but NOT soggy. The mixture should start to clump together.
Gently gather the dough into two equal portions. Roll one portion on a lightly floured board until desired size (make sure it extends past your pie tin edge as it will need to overlap it by 1/2 inch once you place it inside the tin). Always start from the center of the dough and roll outward using steady pressure. Rotate your pie crust and proceed until it is the size and shape you desire. Wrap the dough around your rolling-pin and lay it gently into your pie tin. DO NOT stretch the pie crust at this stage or it will shrink when baked. Gently press it into the bottom corners of the tin and tuck the top edge underneath itself to form a sturdy edge crust.
Fill with desired fruit (usually 1 – 2 pounds depending on your crust size. For each pound of fruit use 1/2 cup sugar, 1 tsp desired seasoning such as lemon juice, ginger or cinnamon, 1/2 tsp salt and 3 tsp flour. Toss all together and put into pie shell.) and place top crust over all. Crimp or seal as desired. Cut 6 ventilation slits and bake as described above.
Here are some other sites to check out!
Great way to vent your pie is to use tube pasta! http://www.chefsjoy.com/blog/kitchen-tips/venting-your-pie