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Monday, November 2, 2015

Culinary Spatter's All-Butter Double Crust Pie Recipe

This is not only my first pie ever, but it is also the single best pie crust I have ever tasted.

Yes, you heard that right.  :)

If you know me, or are familiar with my self-disciplining culinary pedagogy... I research new techniques and dishes rigourously before attempting anything for the first time.

And, pies were no exception.

Fortunately, because the wife loves desserts, (and books) our culinary library has quite an impressive offering of pie insights.

I delved into at least a half a dozen books, not to mention at least as many online resources, before coming to several conclusions.

Here they are.  :)

Firstly, pie crusts are important.

Secondly, pie crusts are super important.

Other than that, there is actually a surprising amount of variation out there on how to make the 'perfect pie crust'.

Some people are adamant on shortening, others lard, and still others insist that butter is the way to go.  I even read a few bakers extolling the virtues of combining some mixture of these three forms of fat.

But the trick is to have fat in the dough.  And in solid form (so that's where the cold comes in).

Which leads to my third conclusion, gotta keep that dough cold.

Anyway, I finally settled on an all-butter pie crust, and compiled my own recipe based on two separate recipes I had read in my books.

Here is my pie crust recipe:

remember, CLICK to enlarge, or print this!
This is a double-crust recipe, and although it might seem daunting, is actually relatively easy.

The hardest part is waiting for the dough to chill.

A couple of notes on this recipe:
Firstly, any high ethanol (high alcohol %) alcohol would do in place of the vodka.  Vodka is a good choice though, because it imparts very little (if any) flavour to the dough.  The reason for the ethanol is that it moistens the dough enough to make it workable and roll-able, but then the alcohol quickly vaporizes in the heat of baking leaving your crust very dry and flaky!

Secondly, you probably won't use even close to the total amount of that water/ice/vodka/vinegar mixture... that's ok.

Thirdly, for the 'washing' phase, you can use an egg wash (beat one egg and spoonful of water), an egg-white wash, a milk or cream wash (for browner crust), or mixture of any (or all) of those.

Myself, I did a mix of one egg with a spoonful of almond milk.

The proteins and sugars in the wash brown the crust very nicely when baking.

You can also sprinkle sugar on top before baking, if you like... I did not.

That's it.

Because I've painstakingly made up a recipe card (which I encourage you to look at closely and/or print out for yourself) with all the steps laid out, I'm just going to go through my own making of it briefly.  But still with pictures!

liquid ice mixture; just use enough to moisten the dough enough to make it workable

This stuff is really nice quality.

Butter has to stay super chill, remember.

Our Emile Henry pie plate really worked wonders for this pie!

Cutting in the butter.

Just a little bit.  Not too much.  Leave large pea-sized chunks of butter in there.  Coated fully, of course, but still pretty unincorporated.

Keep adding, slowly and in increments, the ice water mixture, until the dough is sticky enough to form into a ball.

You can see, I still had quite a bit leftover:

Split into two equal balls, flatten into disks just by hand, and then cover in plastic wrap, or baggies if you ran out of plastic wrap and haven't gone to the store yet to pick any up...


Then refrigerate those for quite some time.  Also throw your pie plate in the fridge (well, place gently, at least) so that it can chill out as well.

Then it's time to make your filling, and bake it all together.

Although I wanted to dedicate this post solely to the crust recipe, and to do separate posts for different pies using this crust, I thought I'd just include a few pictures of the finished crust (as it looked for my first ever pie, an apple pie, which I baked right after making this dough.)

I didn't put as much finesse into the shaping of this dough, and this pie is truly a little ragged around the edges, but for the most part I was extremely pleased with how it turned out.

Flaky, buttery, soft and tender, this was the best pie crust I had ever tasted.  I know it might seem a tad self-aggrandizing to say so, but if you know me you'll know that I don't often make such claims of my own creations, especially not for those which were my first attempts.

It just really worked out.

Which is always nice!