rustic pie crust
So my lab class this quarter is Introduction to Baking; the hardcore cooking classes kick in come fall. Which means summer, whilst not learning about safety and sanitation in the kitchen, I will be practicing my culinary skills---especially knife cuts and sauces---and generally trying to beat/whisk/slice/pound some cooking info into my brain before fall practical kicks in.
In baking, we have been learning about breads and last week we attempted to make made tart and pie crusts. Out of the multiple pie crusts made, it was Julia Child's that was best loved and most flaky.
Voted the best crust of the week (by the way, for this recipe you need a scale. I would convert it but in a bow to my culinary pursuits, lets not. The scale is god at culinary school... well at least in baking. Invite the kids: they love to weigh little smatterings of butter carefully on the scale).
Julie Child's Pie Dough (Pate Brisee to all of us snobs) Pastry Flour 15 ounces (Okay, this is b/c it has less gluten which translates to less structure; all purpose flour has more gluten and therefore more structure. Now you know one of the reasons why the pie crust is more tender---and quite different---than bread). Kosher Salt 2 tsp. Butter 3 ounces Shortening 6 ounces (why butter? why shortening? Someone probably has an entire thesis on this... and you and I are just trying to make pie dough. Suffice it to say the butter adds more flavor and the shortening is sans flavor but less persnickety. Butter makes you earn that heavenly flavor by demanding ice cold everything and under mixing and chilling and and... back to the dough): Water, COLD 1/2 cup (or 4 fluid ounces)
Measure butter, put back in fridge.
Make ice water (you will remove ice later and re-measure). Measure salt and flour---place in mixing bowl; cut in the fat. This means: use the pastry blender to roughly combine the chilled butter (and shortening) with the flour. If you use your hands instead of a pastry blender, ice then dry your hands or wear rubber gloves. I kid you not: warm hands are devastating to the perfect flaky crust. Deal with it. (Sorry for the attitude: it comes from my current read, Anthony Bourdain's Kitchen Confidential).
Now you don't want the butter waking up since it left its cold hibernation, so get moving. Take out the ice cubes, measure half cup water and trickle it in. And by trickle, I mean well-flowing waterfall. It should take you 5 seconds to get the water in. Mix: barely. It should look unmixed. I mean, the trick is: it shouldn't look right. This dough should be 'thinking' about coming together---it should look wrong. Did I mention? Don't over mix.
And for Pete's sake, get that dough back in the fridge. We don't want the butter getting soft.
Aggressively grab your saran wrap, plop on dough and---using the wrap as your aid---form the dough into a disk and get it back in the fridge. Let it chill for an hour (or overnight)---don't skip this. Take it out, roll it (floured surface), line your tin and proceed with whatever you plan to grace your guests with. But a hint? Make it quick... you really, really don' t want that butter touched by warmth, even slightly aware that room temperature is beckoning (summer vacation after a long winter?). Think of it as a quick baton pass: from the fridge---BATON PASS (roll, fill, shape, lattice, glaze, whatever: but quick)---to the oven.
Note: the dough freezes brilliantly, but roll it out first, put it in a pie tin THEN freeze it.
Note: okay, notice the 'rustic' pie in the photo? That is my excuse for making a crust without a pretty edge---something I am still working on. Thank goodness 'rustic' is considered a deliberate category for baked goods. Lots of rustic going on here: rustic rolls, rustic bread, rustic scones and now this rustic pie. Rustic is a good theme for now... chuckle.