The Pie Crust Incident


So when I was just starting to get into cooking a few months ago, I decided to make a homemade pumpkin pie for Thanksgiving dinner with the family (as mentioned in my first post).  I'm posting this in my blog now so that I have the right recipe saved for later use.  I learned right away that the toughest part is not the filling, but the crust.
The first crust I attempted was one that included shortening. I worked diligently, then later realized I had misread and used about 1 cup less of shortening than the recipe required. I added this at a later step, after the flour, and baked 2 pies with it (one custard and one pumpkin, on the left in the above image). I let what appeared to be 2 perfect pies bake for 45 minutes, then stole a crumb off the crust while it was cooling to test it out. It was terrible; it tasted just like SAND. The filling was perfect but the crusts were horrendous.

By this time it was 2 A.M. on the morning before Thanksgiving, so I decided to get up early and bake a new pie first thing. Although if I hadn't messed up the ingredients on the original recipe it may have come out perfect, I decided to try a new one this time. I found a buttery pie crust recipe via pinterest and set out for some ingredients. I needed some more pumpkin puree, and while at Walmart (on Thanksgiving), I also bought a two pack of frozen pie crusts as a back-up...just to be safe. I couldn't help but realize that I could have just spent $2 on a frozen pack rather than spending several hours in my kitchen, but alas, such is life.

This time I followed the excellent directions provided in the recipe and created a new crust. I decided to do one of the homemade pie crusts and bake an extra in the frozen kind. It turned out that my pie crust could fit an entire batch of pie filling but the frozen ones each held half. So three pies it became. Because the recipe makes two pie crusts (or a bottom and a top), I flattened out half and froze it for later use.My family really enjoyed the homemade pie (no sand taste!) and I ended up sending the extra 2 pies home with them at the end of the night. It was worth the effort!

The only thing I did differently was bake the crust for a few minutes before adding the filling. I wanted to make sure that it was cooked in the center and not mushy. I learned quite a bit about pie making by doing this and am glad I tried it. I really enjoyed the butter crust and may later try another shortening type one, but at this point this is my go to crust. The remaining frozen portion turned into a pecan pie later. Word to the wise: thaw out the crust completely before trying to work with it, or it will fall apart. My second crust with this recipe ended up being a frankencrust, but it still tasted great. For next time, I need a pastry mat!

Ingredients (enough for two pie crusts):
2 1/4 cup plain all-purpose flour
1 cup cold salted butter
1/4 cup water

Original recipe, shortened:
Dump flour onto counter or pastry board. Cut all the butter into 2-3 inch size chunks and lay all the pieces on top of your pile of flour. Coat all sides of the butter with flour. Push the butter into the flour with the base of your palm. Use a pastry scraper to scrape up some of the flour and butter and flip it over the pile. Keep pressing and scraping until the butter becomes thin flakes pressed into the flour. Work until you see more butter flakes than loose flour. If your butter flakes are too big, break them up; you should end up with a combination of big flakes and some crumbs. Make a bowl shape in the center of the pile and pour the water into it. Use your finger tips to gently blend and distribute the water evenly throughout the dough. Then, scrape up the dough again with the pastry scraper and fold it again over itself a few times until you have a somewhat cohesive lump of dough. Gather it into a ball, wrap tightly with plastic, and let rest in the fridge for about 30 minutes (or until cold). Remove the dough from the fridge, unwrap, and place on floured surface. Flour the top of the dough as well. Using a rolling pin, roll the dough out to an elongated rectangle. Use a pastry brush and sweep off the excess flour from the top of the dough. Then pick up one end of the rectangle and fold it 2/3 of the way in. Brush the flour off the top, then pick up the other end and fold it over that section. The dough will crack and might even break, and that's ok. Sprinkle more flour over the dough, then turn the folded dough 90 degrees so that the seams on the sides, roll the dough out into a rectangle, and repeat the brushing and folding process again. The dough will become smoother and more flexible. Repeat this process once or twice more – if the dough seems very soft and gets a little oily, wrap it up with plastic and refrigerate until cold before rolling it out again. Roll the dough out one last time to a smaller rectangle, then cut in half and form each piece of dough into a circle shape. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before you rolling out into pie crust. Roll each round into a circle that is 2-3″ larger than your pie plate and brush with some egg wash. Bake for 10-15 minutes at 375 degrees to brown crust slightly. Take out and allow to cool, then fill with desired pie filling and bake.

The surviving pies - mine on the right, in the red dish

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