Homemade Pie Crust & An Easy Recipe For Apple Pie
I love to make my own pastry crust. It may seem like too much trouble when there are so many ready-made pie shells available at the supermarket, however making a pie crust is much simpler than it seems. Not only do you get that hands-on feeling of accomplishment but also a crust with marvelously flaky texture and authentic flavor that's impossible to find in a store-bought crust.
The secret to making a great pie crust is much less elusive than people think. There are only three basic ingredients: flour, fat and liquid. Pastry dough is simply tiny clumps of fat surrounded by flour and held together with milk or water. The secret to a perfect crust is to bring the ingredients together just enough without overworking the dough.
Pastry is made with only a few ingredients, yet cooks disagree about the particulars. Should the flour be bleached or unbleached? Should the fat be in the form of shortening or butter, or a mixture of the two?
Patricia Wells, an American cookbook writer who lives in France, prefers bleached to unbleached flour because it's lighter, and thus thought to be more suitable for tender pastry. The less gluten or protein in flour, the finer and less absorbent it is; higher-protein flour has more elasticity and is better for bread.
Julia Child, on the other hand, prefers the taste of a crust made with American all-purpose unbleached flour, which is fairly high in gluten. To make her crust more tender, Child adds a small amount of Crisco shortening or lard to the butter in her pastry. She points out that lard is considerably lower in saturated fat than vegetable shortening, though people tend to shy away from it. Wells doesn't use shortening of any kind because, she says, the French don't. For many cooks, however, shortening is the fat of choice.
Another issue for the pastry maker is measurement. It seems that every cookbook writer proposes a different way to measure flour. Patricia Wells always weighs her flour, as a rule of thumb. Flour volume varies from bag to bag and season to season, whereas an ounce is always an ounce. Julia Child prefers scooping and leveling. I too, prefer this method.
Experiment until you find what works best for you. If you've got the right proportions and mix them properly, you can't go wrong.
Everyone has their own tastes and opinions when it comes to pie, but I think my mom makes the best apple pie. The recipes included here are the ones given to me by her.
My Mom's Recipe For Pie Crust
Crisco Shortening 1 lb
AP Flour 5-1/5 cups
Milk 2/3 cup (approx)
Vinegar 2 Tbsp
Using a pastry cutter or dull knife, cut the shortening into the flour until you have small crumbles, then make a well in the center. Crack the egg into a measuring cup and add milk until it reaches the 1 cup line. Add the vinegar. Pour this mixture into the well and start mixing. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and knead until just smooth. Refrigerate for at least ½ an hour.
This recipe will yield 4 pie shells or two shells with a top crust. Since the recipe only calls for one egg, it may be difficult to reduce the amounts but you can always freeze any leftover dough for later use.
If your dough is too hard to handle when you take it out of the refrigerator, let it sit for a few minutes to warm up. Cut off ¼ of the dough, knead it briefly and flatten into a disk. Then begin rolling it out.
Once you've reached the desired size, place your rolling pin at the far edge of the circle and roll the dough around it towards you. Gently drape the dough over your pie plate or tart pan and unroll it, letting the excess hang over the sides. Lift the edges of the dough and, with your fingertips, press it into the sides and bottom of the pan. Patch any breaks, especially if you are using a false-bottom pan so the filling won't run out during baking.
Roll out another circle of dough large enough to cover the top of the pie and set it aside for a few minutes.
Now is the time to prepare your filling, although you may want to slice the apples ahead of time.
An Easy Recipe For Apple Pie
Apples 7-8 peeled and sliced
Cinnamon 2 tsp
Sugar 1/4 cup
Flour 2 Tbsp
Lemon juice 1 tsp
Butter 3 Tbsp
Preheat the oven to 350°. Combine the sliced apples in a bowl with flour, sugar and cinnamon. Mix well. Sprinkle with lemon juice and mix again. Pile the filling into the bottom crust and dot evenly with the butter. Cover with your top piece of dough and trim the excess. Seal the edges and cut an 'X' in the center of the top to allow steam to escape. You can also just perforate the dough with a fork. Bake for 45-50 minutes.
I prefer the apples in my filling to be cooked quite tender so I bake the pie a little longer than recommended; close to 60 minutes.
Allow the pie to cool completely or serve slightly warm with a scoop, or two, of vanilla ice cream. Enjoy!
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