Friday, November 20, 2009

Perfect Pie Crust

Baking a pie really is easy as pie! If you've never made piecrust, all it takes is a little practice (really!) and following three simple steps to turn out a tender, flaky crust every time.

  • Cold ingredients are key to a flaky crust. Using ice water and cold (even frozen) Crisco® Shortening is important. Chill the dough for about an hour before rolling to help prevent sticking. When the pie crust goes in the oven, the cold shortening will stay solid long enough for the crust to set, creating small "pockets" in between the layers of dough as it melts. Voila!—a flaky crust.
  • Minimal handling helps to achieve a tender crust. Think of a nice, crusty, chewy piece of bread... it got that way by lots of kneading to develop the gluten in the flour. This is exactly what you are trying to avoid when making a tender piecrust. Handle the dough just enough to mix it and roll it—no more.
  • Proper rolling is another way to avoid excess handling. Roll the dough from the center out, lifting the pin after each roll. In addition to keeping the dough tender, this method will also help you achieve a nice, round shape. To easily get the rolled crust from the counter to the pie pan, lift half the crust, lay it over the rolling pin, and then transfer it into the pan. Be careful not to pull or tug the dough when fitting it in the pie pan—it can cause the dough to shrink when baking.
  • For a beautiful finish, you can glaze a double-crust pie with a beaten egg or egg white mixed with a little water. For an extra-special touch, sprinkle the top crust with a little granulated sugar. Bake pies on a lower rack in the oven, where the concentrated heat will cook the bottom crust as nicely as the top. About halfway through baking, check on the pie—you may need to cover it with foil to prevent over-browning.

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