Back to Basics: Pie Crust

Blueberry Pie photo by JeffreyW

I’m terrified of pie crusts. I can honestly tell you I’ve never made one. Ever. Until today.

I always thought that there was no way I could succeed at – it seemed like a science experiment that I was unprepared to undertake. I wasn’t quite wrong.

See a few years ago, my friend Alton (not that one) wrote a post on Ratios, a cookbook that was part science, part math, part foolproof recipes.He chose to try out the pie crust recipe and made it sound so easy that for quite sometime I toyed with trying it out.

Ratio isn’t a recipe book so much as an explanation of the different ratios that go into making various dishes. For example a pie crust is a ratio of 3:2:1. Three parts flour. Two parts fat. One part liquid. Put the ingredients together in these amounts and in this order and you get pie dough. This is the fact. The science. The structure behind cooking. The art is determined by how skillfully you blend the ingredients. What changes you make in ingredients.

Tonight I decided that with my desire to go back to the basics, this was a good a place as any to continue that journey.

Here goes nothing.

For perfect pie crust all you need is this ratio:

  • 3 parts flour
  • 2 parts fat
  • 1 part water
To that I added a touch of sugar and salt.  (I used 1-1/2 cups flour, 1 tbsp sugar, 1/2 tsp salt , 1 cup butter and 1/2 cup water).  Sound easy? It was. And while not perfect yet – after all it was my first pie crust and working with it takes some practice. Hence JeffreyW’s photo and not one of my own. It was flaky and tasted ok.  I made blueberry turnovers. And I can say, I’m no longer afraid of pie crust.

There are some tricks to mixing together your perfect ratio.  Cold, cold, cold is the first tip. I cut frozen butter (oh, and I use butter instead of shortening in most everything because I like it and I always have it on hand) into small pieces and then put it back in the freezer, along with a glass mixing bowl, a measuring cup of water, my pastry cutter and my marble rolling pin.

I whisked together the flour, sugar and salt then cut in the butter with my pastry cutter, but not too much, the butter was already small, when those small pieces were smaller by half I stopped.  It was warm in the kitchen, so the butter softened quickly. I added the water, mixed it together until everything was moistened, then kneaded it lightly by hand. I divided into two sections, wrapped in plastic wrap and put in the refrigerator until chilled. Then I rolled it out for turnovers.

I was still a little unsure of how thin to roll it out. This is something I’m going to research and play with and see what I can come up with. Maybe Mrs. J will have some suggestions.

4 thoughts on “Back to Basics: Pie Crust

  1. Here is a link to Alton Brown’s recipe. I used vodka (cheap) instead of apple jack. I think roll pie crust 3/16 thick then it will rise a little in the oven and you should get a right thickness for your pie.

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    • Thanks for this Merri. I think I’m going to go for a two-crust blueberry pie next.I’m not confident enough yet to do lattice or fancy cutouts. I’ll work my way up to those.

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  2. Pingback: Thursday Recipe Exchange: Blueberry Pie with Butter Crust « What's 4 Dinner Solutions

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