For a very long period of time, my go-to perfect pie crust is shortbread crust. Because one, I’m more confident making a good shortbread crust than a pastry one. And two, shortbread means a lot of butter, and everyone loves a lot of butter!
Being said that, I’ve never given up exploring for a better pastry crust. My personal failure was the texture. It was always a bit too chewy and not flaky enough. I believe I had the right ingredients which are pretty simple. Flour, sugar, salt, butter and water. That’s it! So I guess it’s the technique that I needed to work on.
I had always relied on food processor when it came to pie crust making. It’s less messy and it helped to make the ingredients more well-mixed, which I thought was a good thing. However, the end result was never perfect!
Many good and bad pies later, I think I’ve come up with a right technique that results in a perfect pie crust. And it’s all about ditching the food processor, roll up your sleeves, and get your hands to work!
I cannot explain what’s the story behind by using hands compared with using a food processor, but obviously there is a huge different when it comes to the final product. The crust is lighter, flakier and tastier!
Here is one more technique that I learned from a grandma of my kid’s friend at school: to fold the dough in half for a few times before chilling, like how you fold a puff pastry dough, but not as many times. This will help adding more buttery layers to the dough, and hence a flakier pie crust.
Making pies could sounds intimidating. Only the thought of rolling the dough already puts off that dessert making plan. But EVERYONE LOVES PIES! I’ve known people who only love to eat pie crusts. Crust is a very crucial part for a pie. I would say do not give up making pies, and start tackling it with these amazing pie crust recipes.
Ingredients (Two 9-inch pies or one 9-inch double-crust pie):
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 sticks unsalted butter, cut into little cubes, chilled
6 to 8 tablespoons cold water
6 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and sliced
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2/3 cup granulated sugar
3 tablespoons all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon all spice
1 egg yolk
1 tablespoon heavy cream
To prepare crust, whisk flour, sugar and salt in a large bowl. Add butter and rub it in the flour mixture with your fingers until it resembles coarse sand.
Add 4 tablespoons of water and mix the dough together. Add more water, a tablespoon at a time, until the dough hold together when pitched.
Form a disc on a lightly floured surface. Fold the dough in half, press down to the original size and fold in half again. Repeat two more times until the dough becomes smooth.
Divide the dough into 2 pieces, in the ratio of 2/3 and 1/3, and form 2 discs. Wrap doughs with plastic wrap and refrigerate for about 30 minutes to chill.
To prepare apple filling, put all ingredients in a large bowl and mix until all the apples are well coated. Set aside.
Remove the large dough from the fridge. Roll it on a floured surface, until around 3mm thick. Line a greased 9-inch pie pan with the rolled dough. Make sure you leave a tiny overhang of dough.
Roll the small dough until around 3mm thick, and cut into 12 to 14 strips, each around 1/2 inch wide.
Pour the apple filling into the prepared pie shell. Lay 6 or 7 strips over the filling, evenly spaced, and then weave with the remaining strips diagonally. Fold back the edge of the shell over the edge of the lattice strips, and crimp to secure.
Mix the egg wash ingredients, and brush the dough with the mixture. Bake at 350F for about 50 to 55 minutes, until the filling is bubbling and the crust is golden.
Remove pie from oven, and let it sit in room temperature for 30 minutes. Serve with vanilla ice cream.