My Best Piecrust Recipe

I know that some of you have been waiting for this.

Old-fashioned Piecrust,
adapted from The Wooden Spoon Dessert Book,
by Marilyn M. Moore with advice from Betty Crocker

Into a medium sized heavy bowl, measure
2 cups unbleached all purpose flour

Cut in
3/4 cup unsalted butter
until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. (I use my mother's old pastry cutter, but you can also use two knives. I've done it, but I can't explain how in writing. Look in a basic cookbook or have somebody show you if you've never done it. It's the same for cutting butter into piecrust as into biscuits.)

Mix in a small bowl or large measuring cup
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cider vinegar ( Marilyn says the cider vinegar contributes to the flakiness)
1/4 cup cold water (I like to put an ice cube or two in a glass of water when I start. Then after I pour off the quarter cup, I drink the rest of the cool water.)

Add liquid mixture one tablespoon at a time, stirring with a fork longer than you think after each addition, including after the first one. Keep stirring until the dough sticks together. Don't add more water, just keep stirring. When it is all clumped together, then pick it up with floured hands and quickly and lightly roll it into a ball. Try not to handle it too much because that melts the butter and makes the crust tough.

Cut into two almost equal halves, flatten each one a little, smooth it into a round (sort of like a tire or a cheese) and wrap each in plastic wrap.

Refrigerate it for at least 20 minutes or overnight. Prepare your filling.

Roll out the slightly larger half on a lightly floured board. First pat and press the dough gently to enlarge the circle. Turn the dough over and repeat the patting and pressing. Then use the rolling pin to roll from the center to the edge, lifting the rolling pin as you approach the edge so as not to make it too thin. Keep it circular by pressing the edges together with your fingers as you go along. Turn the dough a quarter turn, smooth the edges and repeat. Keep turning the dough and repeating the rolling and smoothing. As the circle expands, you will have to turn your body or the floured cutting board rather than the dough, as it will become thin and fragile. When you have about a 12 inch circle (or about two inches larger than your pie pan), fold the dough loosely in quarters. Lay it in the pie pan with the point touching the center and unfold it gently, easing it into the pan. Trim to 1/4 inch beyond the rim.

Roll out the slightly smaller half on floured board until you have an 11 inch circle (or one inch larger than your pie pan). Fold into quarters and cut vents into folds (kind of like making a paper snowflake). Keep ready while you fill the bottom crust.

Lay the top crust over the filling. Trim to 1/2 inch beyond the bottom crust. Tuck the top crust under the bottom crust and squish them together with your fingers.

Then crimp the edges together. This makes it look nice and prevents the filling from leaking out of the sides. I use one of two methods. One is to flatten the rim by pressing the tines of a fork repeatedly around the edge. The other is slightly more complicated: using the thumb and forefinger of one hand on the bottom/outside of the rim of crust, press the forefinger of your other hand into the crease from the top of the crust, creating a wavy rim.

Bake according to your filling recipe.

Pie crust is an art and a science, but recipes are generally interchangeable. Find one you like and use it for all your pies.


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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Friends, I will affirm that from my personal experience this is a delicious and flaky pie crust. The ministry of pie-crust-making is indeed one of Friend Robin's gifts.

With all due affection and sincerity,

Chris M.

8/25/2005 6:55 PM  
Blogger Robin M. said...

Hi Chris! I expected that I would at least get some debate on the butter vs. shortening question, or something, but not yet, I guess.

Much love,

8/25/2005 7:16 PM  
Blogger Amanda said...

I'm for butter, though I've had mixed results with it. Now that I'm having little tastes of fall weather, I really want to make some pie. I recently learned to put tapioca in a berry filling to keep in from being watery. I hate tapioca but I love this trick. You don't notice or taste it at all, but the filling gells beautifully.

8/26/2005 12:12 PM  
Blogger Robin M. said...

I've used tapioca before, but I didn't think about using it in my blueberry pies that are ALWAYS runny. Ooh, an experiment to come...

8/27/2005 3:37 PM  

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