The ABCs Of Creating A Perfect Pie Crust
When you sink your fork into a slice of pie, nothing tantalises your expectations to the start of a good meal more than the crisp sound of the crust parting to reveal its filling of ingredients, whether savoury or sweet, to be relished by your palate with satisfaction.
It’s no secret that a good pie is judged ideal when the crust is perfect, in addition to having a delicious filling to go with it. So how do you create a light, flaky, buttery perfection that holds up well to the filling?
The key ingredient that makes a great pie crust is – butter. A really good butter cannot compete with lard or shortening when it comes to producing a tender, flaky crust.
It’s even better if you are able to get your hands on a creamy, rich European-made butter with a higher fat content and less water compared to American-made ones, as it’s tastier and more supple to work with.
You can still achieve a flaky butter crust by making it the old-fashioned way, using hands without a pastry blender, mixer or food processor. The technique of rubbing cold buttery chunks between your fingers into the flour, allows you to skilfully manage the amount of butter pieces that go into the flour.
This helps create flakes rather than lumps when the dough is formed and ready for rolling. Then while the crust bakes, the butter will melt, which creates steam pockets to leave behind a flaky texture. A classic method that always deliver a worthy result.
Here’s a step by step easy technique to show you how to build a perfect pie crust.
1. Disperse small amounts of butter
When creating pie dough, use the “rubbing and mixing” technique to combine the butter with dry ingredients. The key is to cut the chilled butter into small sizes and disperse them throughout the flour.
2. Add cold water
After adding butter to the dry ingredients, water should be added next. Like the butter, water added should be ice cold. So prepare ice water before you start making the dough. Add it gradually, about one tablespoon at a time and stop just when the dough is able to hold together when you squeeze it.
3. Rolling the dough
Before you roll the dough, place it in the refrigerator for one hour at least. It enables the dough enough time to firm up slightly and for the gluten to relax. You will find that chilled dough is easier to roll out and less likely to stick during rolling.
Having marble pastry boards and rolling pins helps keep the dough extra cool and easy to handle. Dust the work surface, rolling pin and top of the dough lightly with flour before you start rolling.
With even, steady pressure, roll the dough in all directions to form a large circle. Turn the dough quarterly to keep it even and to prevent sticking.
4. Transferring the dough
When you transfer the rolled-out dough to a pie pan, avoid stretching or tearing it. It helps if you fold the dough loosely in half, lift it with both hands and position it over one side of the pan, carefully unfolding the dough to the other side. Alternatively, roll the dough loosely around the rolling pin, position the loose edge at the edge of the pan, and then unroll the dough directly into the pan.
5. Fitting the dough
Lift the edges of the dough gently enough to the corners of the pan, adjust and use the pads of your fingertips to push the dough gently into position. Trim away excess dough and leave one inch to overhang and tuck it back under the crust.
Keep the lined pan in the refrigerator for 20 minutes before baking or filling in the ingredients. Always give the gluten time to relax when you work with pie dough.
6. Finishing the crust
For single crust pies, to prevent the dough from slipping down into the pan as it bakes, it’s a good idea to pinch or press a decorative border into the rim of the pie.
For double crust pies, you need to seal the edge in order to keep the top and bottom crusts from separating when baking. Before you set the top crust into place, brush the edge of the bottom crust with water, milk or egg wash. Trim off the excess dough from the top and bottom layers, seal the crusts together. You can flute the edges together with your fingertips or press the dough together with the tines of a fork. Finally, brush the dough with egg wash and sprinkle a dash of sugar on the washed crust before baking. This will result in deep golden colour, shiny and crunchy texture after baking.
Always check the dough’s temperature before placing into the oven. If it’s not cool to the touch, refrigerate it for 10 to 15 minutes.
Remember to always check the dough’s temperature before you put it into the oven. If it doesn’t feel cool to the touch, refrigerate the pie up to 10 to 15 minutes before baking it.
However, if you’re interested to take up baking professionally, why not head over to Cilantro Culinary Academy that offers Diploma in Patisserie where you can also learn all the other essentials in making bread, pies, tarts, cake, etc.
If you are preparing a pie filling that requires wine for its ingredient, you may want to take a look at this article, Good Facts To Know When Cooking With Wine.