April 17, 2012

Flaky Pie Dough

Until recently, I only had a few pies under my belt and had never made pie dough from scratch. I have never been that big of a fan of pie, and cue gasp, that includes cheesecake as well. Now after having made several pies and many, many batches of flaky pie dough, I have a new appreciation.

Flaky Pie Dough
450g all-purpose flour
300g unsalted butter, cold, cubed
150 ml water, cold
1 t salt

The above recipe will make two 9-inch pie shells or eight 5-inch pie shells. If your food processor is less than 12 cups, cut the recipe in half and make only one shell at a time. The best results will come from cold ingredients and minimally handling the dough. Returning the dough to the fridge when not in use gives the gluten time to relax which will help maintain it's rolled shape.

Make the Dough
Measure and cut the butter into 1-inch cubes and return to fridge to keep cold. In a measuring cup, measure water, add salt, and stir until dissolved. Place water in fridge to keep cold. In a bowl of a food processor, measure the flour, then add butter. Pulse 10 times, keeping the butter in large chunks. Slowly stream the water into the flour mixture while continuing to pulse, about 10 to 12 pulses. The butter should remain in large pea size pieces with the dough being only just moist enough to hold together.

Turn the dough out onto a clean surface and gently press the dough together. Evenly divide the dough in half and press each half into the shape of a disc about 5 inches in diameter and 1 inch thick. Wrap each piece securely in plastic wrap and place in the fridge for at least 6 hours before using. For best results, it can be kept in the fridge for 48 hours until use or frozen for 1 month.

Roll the Dough
On a large, lightly floured surface, roll one disc of dough into a large circle, about 16 inches in diameter. To maintain a circular shape, work from the center towards the edges. Stop the rolling pin about one-half inch from the edge to keep from pressing the dough too thin. It is unnecessary to continually rotate and flour both the dough and surface during this process. Doing so will cause the butter to melt from the heat of your hands and the dough will lose it's flakiness. The overuse of flour will make the dough tough.  Only sparsely flour your hands and rolling pin just so the dough doesn't stick. Working with the dough quickly so that it remains as cold as possible will also make handling easier. Loosely roll the dough onto the rolling pin and transfer to the pie dish. Gently smooth it into place with one hand, while holding the edge up with the other hand, working around the entire dish. Leave about 1 inch of dough overhanging the dish and place in fridge until ready to use.

Top with Dough
Repeat the same method to roll out another disc of dough for the top of the pie. If you are making a lattice top, cut the strips at this point. Place the prepared dough in fridge on a foil lined baking sheet. After the dough has chilled, you can either create the entire lattice top and then place on the pie (my preferred method) or make it directly on top of the pie. Keep in mind if the pie filling was precooked and still warm, it will heat up your dough making it difficult to position.

Once the top is situated, take the overhang of the top and bottom dough and gently roll it under, making a ridge that can be fluted, crimped, or any other decorative design you choose. You can then brush with an egg wash and sprinkle with sugar. If you leave the dough as a complete round, don't forget to cut slits in the top to allow for venting.

You can blind bake the shell if you need only a single baked crust for your pie recipe. Once the dough has been placed in the pie dish, and the ridge fluted or crimped as above, place a piece of parchment paper in the dish and let it overhang. Fill with pie weights, rice, or beans and bake for 18-20 minutes at 350ยบ F. Remove the items from the pie crust and return it to the oven to bake for 5-7 minutes, until the dough has a light golden color and is dry to the touch. Let it cool completely and then it is ready for your filling as directed by the recipe of choice.

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