One thing I like about blogging is that it gives me an excuse to try new recipes. If I look back prior to May 2010, I was not as adventurous in the cooking/baking world as I am right now. Granted, I have not been cooking as much in 2011 as I was in 2010, and only blogged here and there lately, but I still feel I am better off today than one and half years ago.
So, even though I was happy enough with Fannie Flagg’s Pie Crust recipe, when I saw PW had Pie Workshop at her lodge and invited Pam Regentin to give a tutorial on pie crust, I wanted to try it myself. Since the workshop was conducted back in August, Houston was and still is experiencing the longest drought on record. We have had minimal rain, and our summer was super hot and dry. Houston is supposed to be the one of the humid cities of Texas. Practicality and reality demanded that we did not use our oven at all during the ninety degree plus weather. So this recipe was simply tucked in the back of my brain until the holidays.
With the holidays, I did not need an excuse to make any pies. In fact, I feel like holidays have to have pies. Without a pie, the holiday was not complete. So, when I made Fannie Flagg’s Pecan Pie for Thanksgiving, I decided to try Pam’s pie crust recipe. If you are interested to read the story trails of the Pie Crust Workshop/Tutorial chronology, click on this link and it lists PW’s posts on the Workshop and the Tutorial. It is an interesting reading, especially when they delved into the different fats that can be used in making pie crust and the different results because of it.
The verdict was that to produce a flaky pie crust, one should use a combination of butter and leaf lard. Now, before I’m crucified for even thinking of using leaf lard in baked goods, and yes, I used to shun anything that has the word “Lard”; please read the wiki version of Leaf Lard. It explains where this fat comes from as well as stating that the lard sold commercially usually is hydrogenated. The one I’m talking about adding in baked goods is the unprocessed (unhydrogenated) leaf lard. No trans-fat! Leaf lard is preferred in baking because it does not have any pork flavor when rendered and its ability to produce flaky pastry. Since I’m not an expert about this subject, please feel free to research online for more information.
Since I was crunched for time when I made Pam’s crust recipe, I skipped the leaf lard and decided to use all butter instead. For all of you who are interested in finding leaf lard in Houston, I found out recently that the Revival Market in the Heights carries leaf lard, both as raw or rendered. I have not gone there to get some myself, but I plan on going there for my next pies.
So, my ingredients for the pie crust were flour, butter, sugar, salt, and cold water.
First I dumped the flour, salt and sugar into the food processor. Then I pulsed the food processor so that the salt and sugar were combined into the flour. After that, I added the cut up chilled butter.
Buzzed the button a few times, and I came up with this mix. The butter was mixed with the flour mixture, and I could still see some big chunks here and there. In no way could I reproduce the large clumps that Pam got on PW’s post. I wonder if that had something to do with the lard she was using.
On my third try at making the crust, I just ran the food processor, and then I came up with large chunks. So I am not really sure if I was supposed to do that, or if the leaf lard makes a difference. Anyway, I added the remaining flour, and pulsed the food processor a few more times.
Then after that, I transferred the mixture to another regular bowl…
I added the water and on my first try, I used only the spatula to mix the water in. That did not work well, and I ended up having to add more water to it. On my second try, I decided to use a squirt bottle to sprinkle the water, thinking that it would be distributed better that way, and still used the spatula to mix the water in. On my third try, I gave up on the spatula and mixed it in by hand quickly. My reluctance to use my hands to form the dough was due to the heat transfer from my hand to the butter. But, it turned out that forming the dough into a ball by hand was better.
Another thing that I wasn’t sure of was to chill or not to chill the dough. On all of my trials, I ended up chilling the dough, since I was preparing it ahead of time. Of course, then I had to let it came to room temperature a little bit so I could roll it out.
The newest thing I learned from Pam’s tutorial was rolling out the dough using two pieces of parchment paper. I love this idea! It made clean up a zilch! My rolling pin didn’t get dirty, and moreover, the countertop didn’t as well! Thank you Pam for the great idea!!
So I laid down a piece of parchment paper and sprinkled it with just a little bit of flour, so the dough would not stick. Pam’s explanation in rolling the dough with this technique was to prevent adding flour while rolling, which made the dough dryer and tougher. Make sense to me! :)
Then, I just laid another piece of parchment on top of the dough… and rolled away!
See how neat it was? Rolled out pie dough in between two parchment papers!
Now this I learned the hard way. I knew I need to peel the parchment paper to transfer the dough to the pie pan. What I didn’t know during my first try out was, to peel both papers before transferring the dough. So, peel the paper, put it back on the dough, flip it over, and peel. Then you can transfer the dough to the pie pan, and it will peel right away. Am I making sense here?
Due to my 3Ps, Poor Prior Planning, I didn’t have aluminum pie pans in my pantry. But I had those pans for buns, so I used those instead, since I was making pies for family.
I was just making sure that the rolled out dough was wide enough for the pan… Then I just flipped the dough over and transferred it to the pan…
Voila! I really liked the taste of the crust, which was very buttery and flaky. Which is bad, since I would want to eat the crust all the time! So now, I just have to wait until my next trial, which I hope I can add the leaf lard into the crust, and see which one I like best! Oh, and I found where Pam has her post on her blog, as well as a video of her rolling out the pie crust. Thank you Pam for providing the wonderful tutorial!
Print recipe here.
Recipe courtesy Pam Regentin
2½ cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt to 1 tablespoon sugar (For savory pie, omit sugar).
1 cup cold butter, cut into chunks
¼ cup cold water
Combine two cups of flour, sugar and salt in a food processor. Pulse twice to incorporate them.
Add the butter into the food processor, pulse a few times until you get peas sized crumble.
Add the remaining flour, pulse to incorporate.
Transfer to a regular mixing bowl, sprinkle with cold water. Mix dough by hand very quickly.
Form the dough into a disk, chill for half an hour.