This post is dedicated to my nephew Chris, our brave marine. Before he left for bootcamp last Thanksgiving, I fed him a ridiculous amount of pie. And he humored me by eating every last bite. You make me proud Chris.
This recipe is from Martha Stewart’s Pies and Tarts, a classic that I bought many years ago when we were first married. I had dreams of entertaining like Martha, while eating a lovely piece of pie on a rolling lawn. It never happened.
But in the meantime, I did learn how to make a mean pie crust. Here are my secrets:
- Butter not
Crisco. That’s really all I need to say.
- Flour (I happen to be extremely lucky, because my sister-in-law Linda has a Whisper Mill wheat grinder. She uses it to grind her own flour, which she kindly shares with me. And it makes the best pie crusts. Evah. You can still make perfectly good pie crusts with white flour. But Linda’s nutty wheat flour never gets doughy on the bottom.
- Emile Henry pie plates: Ever since Michael got me a pair of these beauties for Christmas, I’ve been in love. They heat perfectly evenly, and nothing sticks to the bottom. Plus they’re so pretty, they make me sigh.
- Silpat: Is it wrong to feel love for a sheet of silicone? I think not. Rolling out pastry dough does not have to be difficult.
- Cuisinart: A couple quick pulses of a food processor gets you to the coarse meal stage in seconds.
As wonderful as my secrets are, my mom makes perfectly amazing pie crusts by rolling out her dough between two bread bags, cut open and laid flat on the table. She trims and crimps her crusts so fast it would make your head spin. I make more of a production of my crusts. Part of my pie ritual is that I demand silence: music must be turned off, TV muted, breaths held, until the moment that I unfold my crust in the pan. Then I exhale and we all celebrate the season of pumpkin pie.
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 tsp sugar (Martha calls for this, but I don’t think you really need it)
2 sticks butter, chilled and cut into small piece
1/4 to 1/2 cup ice water
Combine flour and salt in the food processor with a couple quick pulses. Add butter, and process until the mixture resembles coarse meal, 8 to 10 seconds.
With the machine running, add 1/4 c ice water in a slow, steady stream through feed tube. Pulse until dough holds together without being wet or sticky; be careful not to process more than 30 seconds. To test, squeeze a small amount together: If it is crumbly, add more ice water, 1 tablespoon at a time.
Divide dough into two equal balls. Flatten each ball into a disc and wrap in plastic. Flattening your dough will make it chill more quickly and evenly. Refrigerate for 1 hour.
Now’s the part where you roll up your sleeves. Sprinkle the Silpat with a little flour. Roll out one of the disks into a large round, thin sheet.
After it’s rolled out, lightly dust the surface with a little flour. Carefully fold the dough into quarters and lay into the pan.
Once it is in the pan, you can unfold it, and gently press it around the bottom and sides. Fill it with goodness and enjoy.