• Jennifer Sartell

Basic, Easy Pie Crust


I used to hate...loathe...despise making pie crust. I felt like of all the things I made in our kitchen, pie crust was the most ambiguous and temperamental. I'm not a big fan of measuring things. Which is why I enjoy cooking more than baking. I feel like in cooking you're not necessarily trying to create a successful chemistry project. You just throw things in a pan until they smell good.


Baking requires recipes and cookbooks and measuring cups and measuring spoons... baking temperatures and times...it's all a little needy for me. But pie crusts are one of those things that often crosses over from baking to savory meal types.




I love chicken pot pies and French meat pies with cinnamon and onion. I love pasties (we live in Michigan) with gravy. I love to throw left-over stew in a pie crust and eat it with a dab of butter. What I don't love is making the crust for all these delicious meals.





My pie crust experience comes from my mom. We used to go apple picking every fall and we would make 12-15 apple pies at a time. We'd freeze them to eat throughout the winter and to give to friends and family. When she was making crust, she'd make HUGE batches. I remember her scooping the shortening out of the blue Crisco can and chopping it into the flour with the pastry blender. I remember her shoulder aching from the motion. She'd grab a pinch and rub it through her fingers. If it wasn't quite right, she'd just keep adding flour or shortening or water until the consistency was right. If we had too much dough after the pies were made, she'd roll out the crust, lather it in butter, sugar and cinnamon, roll it into a log and slice it into discs. Then we'd bake them like cookies.



Butter pulsed into flour mixture to make a grainy consistancy


I've since tried to re-create her pie crust, but in smaller quantities, and it's always a disaster. It's either too wet (equals tough and not flaky), or too dry (it won't bind, it cracks and falls apart when I try to roll it out).




I've purchased refrigerated pre-made pie crusts and they're... fine, I do use them occasionally. But I don't know if I have exceptionally large pie pans or what, but they're always too small to get a nice fluted edge. They're also kinda pricey. My mom and I still make our big batches of pies and at $3 + dollars each...that adds up.




I don't exactly remember where I first saw this recipe, but it intrigued me because it was less about ingredient amounts and more about technique.



Let me introduce ...THE FOOD PROCESSOR!!! Your key to pie crust success!



This really does simplify the entire pie crust process. They best part is that you can use really cold ingredients and your warm hands don't lower the temperature of the crust. So it stays really flaky even if you skip the refrigerating time.




Making pie crust in the food processor


Ingredients

2 1/2 cup flour

1 tsp. salt

1 tsp. sugar

1 cup butter cit into 1/2 inch cubes

1/3 cup ice water


Add the flour, salt, sugar and butter to the food processor.


Pulse until the mixture resembles coarse oats


Then turn the processor on while you add the water slowly. Let run until just mixed.


Turn the dough out on a floured table. Form a ball and divide in half.


I use the dough immediately. But some prefer to refrigerate for an hour to 3 hours.










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