Thursday, June 16, 2011

King Arthur Flour- Day 2: Pie Crust

Pie, in and of itself, is delicious. Sweetened fresh fruit, bittersweet chocolate, tart lemon, pecans swimming in a sugary there a bad type of pie? However, a pie is not a pie if there is no crust....not really at least. However, how often as you chow down on a tasty piece of pie does the crust become a second thought, just a vehicle holding the contents? Horror of all horrors, it even gets cleaned out and left as an empty piece of pastry on a forgotten plate.  I can tell you why this happens- more often than not- pie crust is made from a mix from a box, and it's flavor is pretty bland.  Our second day at King Arthur introduced us to pie crust, the real kind, made from scratch, and my world was completely realigned.

Real pie crust is flaky, oh so flaky, it is tender, and it is full of flavor.  We were taught three invaluable tricks to making a true pie crust, or as I like to think of it- a work of art.  The first:  Use only ICE COLD water- make sure its super cold, and don't use too much.  I actually found that at first I thought I hadn't used enough water, but then when I turned it out to work it on my table, it came together perfectly.  The second: cut in the butter in two batches.  The first will get beaten in finer, the second set will remain in clumps.  Which brings me to the third: visible butter is NEEDED in good pie crust.  When it's just a dough you should still be able to see pieces of creamy butter throughout the dough- these release steam when they melt and help the flaky process.  The real beauty of this type of pie crust-is that it can be made for sweet or savory pies. We completed ours with a tomato and mozzarella layer and it was heavenly!

We were also taught how to make "pate sucree" pastry- or a sweet tart dough that resembles a sugar cookie.  This dough was much easier to make, as temperature really wasn't a concern, and it just required stirring to bring the dough together.  The result of this dough was much denser, without any concern of flakes, however it's flavor was sweeter, more intense, and absolutely more decadent.  We completed this dough with a strawberry and rhubarb filling that made for a very beautiful dessert.

I walked into King Arthur last week with some serious pie crust anxiety.  I had never attempted to make it from scratch, and have actually voted to have crustless pies served at Thanksgiving.  However now, knowing how easy it is to make real pie crust, and how unbelievably delicious it can be when made correctly- I think the crust is my favorite part now!


Kathy said...

Trufacts: I make the best pie crust in my family (mine is basically identical to the one you have there) and I hate it. I think Pie crust is gross and boring no matter how perfect the texture is. #totalwierdo But now I want a pie.

Emily @ A Cambridge Story said...

I love that the first pie was savory. Your crust looks excellent!

Jen said...

Your crust looks perfect! Great tips.

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