Sunday, April 4, 2010

Twelve in One Blow

A while back (sometime back . . . I'm a little slow) someone asked me how I make my pie crust. Infrequently is the answer.

I've mentioned several times that I love pies. They are my all-time favorite dessert and I love baking them. I used to bake pies for an income. BUT . . . I don't like making pie crusts. Kinda like laying the foundation for a beautiful house. Not much fun, but necessary.

So every once in a while, usually when there's something interesting to watch on TV or I have a really good audio tape to listen to, I gather together all my ingredients and stand at the kitchen counter for an hour or so and make up a bunch of balls of pie crust to freeze. Then anytime I want to bake a pie, I just have to pull one or two balls out of the freezer in time to defrost at room temp (or overnight in the refrig) and the fun part of pie making can begin.

For shortening, I use half butter and half lard, one pound of each.

Cut each pound into six (sorta) equal parts.

Measure four level cups of flour into a large bowl. Add 2 teaspoons of salt and mix in with a fork.

Then plop in two cubes of butter and two cubes of lard.

Cut in the butter and lard with a pastry blender until the shortening is thoroughly and evenly incorporated with the flour.

Next, using the fork I blend approximately one cup of very cold water into the mixture. I fill a cup measure nearly to the one cup mark and then add an ice cube to make sure the water stays cold.

Add the ice water slowly mixing it into the flour mixture with the fork. In the above picture, I'm just adding the very last of the water. (If you need more than the one cup of water, go ahead and use it but don't add any more than you need to get the flour mixture to just hold together. Too much water will make a tough crust.)

Here the dough has had enough water added and is ready to be worked a little bit with my hands to bring it all together in one big lump in the bottom of the bowl.

Take a knife and cut the lump of dough into four (sorta) equal parts.

Taking one section at a time, use your hands to form it into a roundish, flatish ball. This portion will be one pie crust. I wrap each individual portion in waxed paper.

Repeating the above process two more times will use up your pound of butter and pound of lard cubes and yield twelve balls of pie crust. Enough for twelve single crust pies or six double crust pies. Or a combination thereof. (Did I do the math right? I've always been extremely mathematically challenged.)

I then pack the balls of crust in freezer bags, label and date them and store in the freezer.

When I finished making my latest batch of pie crusts, I left two balls in the refrigerator overnight and in the morning I made this peach pie which merrily burbled all over my oven floor. Somebody remind me to clean that out before I light the oven again!

12 comments:

Jennifer Jo said...

These look lovely.

How do you make your peach pie filling? Mine always turn out disappointingly bland.

When are you going to start a recipe index???

mmpaints said...

LOL, I hate making pie crust too! I do something similar, I put mine in zip loc bags and flatten them out a little, seems like they defrost quicker and less rolling out come pie time. I recently switched to a recipe I got from the Pioneer woman cooks book, it is awesome...

Erin said...

I hate it too! Yet another recipe to bookmark and do on a rainy day. I need to start making them in advance, especially since my kids now love quiche and I have resorted to store bought frozen crusts to have on hand to make this easy dinner. I really need to do them in advance like you!

Mama Pea said...

Hi, JJ - Here's my peach pie filling recipe: 3/4 c sugar, 3 T flour, 1/4 (scant) t nutmeg, dash salt, and 5 cups sliced fresh (frozen) peaches. That's it. Of course, a lot depends on the flavor of your peaches.

A recipe index? Hmmm, I probably should do that. (Dang, another "should" to do!) If you scroll all the way (ALL the way) down to the bottom of my blog page, and click on "Recipes" you will find them all there . . . but not in very good order. Sorry.

Hey, mm - Your idea is smarter than me wrapping mine in waxed paper. They WOULD defrost quicker. I got PW's cookbook for Christmas so I'll go check out her recipe. Thanks!

Hi, Erin - It's funny but no matter how much I might WANT a pie, if I don't have the crusts waiting in the freezer, I just don't do it. With your boys gobbling up quiches, they would be great for you.

MaineCelt said...

Thank you for a lovely reminder of what crust SHOULD be. (I usually use just butter, myself, but next year I think I'll render some lard from our pigs for personal use.)

Remember my Equinox Pie? Well, after receiving invitations to both a Passover seder and an Easter supper, I decided to make a double-recipe variation on the theme so I wouldn't have to do too much cooking in between all my Holy Week church duties. (I was charged with planning and leading Maundy Thursday & Easter Sunrise services, as well as helping out with Good Friday and the second Easter service.)

Well, I knew just enough about Passover to know I couldn't use regular flour; only "cake meal" was allowed. (Fortunately, our local grocer had some.) I didn't realize how different it is, so I made a regular double batch of pie crust and...ended up with something that felt kind of like play-dough and absolutely refused to hold together. I had to press the crumbly mess into the pie pan, and--though folks ate it happily--I didn't care for the crust at all!

Next time I go to a Passover seder, I think I'll avoid baked goods. Maybe I'll bring a salad!

ThyHandHathProvided said...

Hello, there. I found your blog via Jennifer Jo's. I hate making pie crust. What helps me is that not only do I make a large recipe, but I go ahead roll them out and put them in their plates right away (I use disposable aluminum pans because I don't have enough real ones), stacking them with wax paper in between and putting the whole stack in a plastic bag. With 11-12 in the freezer ready to pull out and fill, I don't have to think about pie crusts very often. Bliss:-).

Jenyfer Matthews said...

Do you think this would work with just butter? My veggie husband wouldn't approve of my using lard :)

KM said...

I've been gearing up to try my first pie crust for about three months now. No particular reason for the onset... guess I just felt everyone should tackle it at some point in life. I'm glad I waited for your post. Hope to find time this weekend. Wish me luck.

Thanks Mama Pea!

Mama Pea said...

Hi, MaineCelt - The latest health research (if we can believe all we read) as to the healthiest shortening to ingest is . . . LARD! (Back to basics?) But, of course, I feel it would have to be lard rendered from the fat of a pig you knew personally. One that you knew how it was raised, fed, butchered, etc. And your pigs would certainly qualify there. Here's to healthy lard!

Hi, ThyHand - Welcome and thanks for commenting! Your idea sounds great. So then do you keep some unrolled to use as a top crust when you want a two-crust pie?

Hi, Jen - Yes, I have heard of pie crusts being made successfully with only butter. The lard tends to make a crust have that "flaky" quality but the butter adds the "richness" to it. I'd sure give it a try.

Hey, KM - I wish you luck! Just remember that the more you work with the recipe, the easier it will seem . . . the first time will be the hardest . . . getting the "feel" of things, and all.

Jenyfer Matthews said...

I've tried pie crust many times, using only butter. Most of the time it's been tough (probably too much water) and once it was perfectly perfect. Still trying to recapture that moment!

ThyHandHathProvided said...

Mama Pea,
I just don't usually make top crusts, but you surely could reserve some dough for just that purpose:-). We make more quiches than fruit pies- we possibly have too many chickens.

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