Saturday, May 5, 2007

Of All The Crust!

Spring, when the fruit trees blossom, always sets the refrain from an old song singing in my head, "I looked out the window and what did I see? Popcorn's popping on the apricot tree." When I was growing up we had an aged but prolific apricot tree in our backyard. Each spring it would explode with a profusion of delicate white blossoms and then in the summer, if there was no late frost, we'd be up to our ankles in apricots. Fresh apricots, apricot jam, apricot leather, and my favorite, apricot pies. My mother was a whiz at making pies and she'd bake fresh pies and stock the freezer with pies to try to use up the fruit inundation.

Somehow I assumed I'd be able to make pies by some sort of genetic alchemy. My mother could, so naturally I'd be able to. Right? But what actually happened was that I mangled the dough, undercooked the pie, or burnt it so that I was severely demotivated to make pies. I tried crust recipe after crust recipe, adding egg, vinegar, butter, shortening, all of the above, none of the above. Pretty much all with discouraging results.

But because my husband likes pies and I really like my husband, I was willing to persevere. And at long last, I think I've got it. A pie crust that bakes up tender, flakey, and tasty. Yahoo! The tenacious, tasting technicians who wrote The Best Recipe tested variations on all the elements of pie crusts and came up with the very best ingredients and proportions. The other thing that I liked about this recipe is that it makes a generous amount of dough so that I don't have to overwork or stretch the dough to get it to fit my deep pie pans. This eliminates the shrinkage and tearing that I've gotten in the past. The bonus for my kids is that I have scraps that I sprinkle with cinnamon sugar and bake for them.

I made this pie with a peach filling that I had in the freezer from last summer (I'm still trying to work my way through the freezer contents.) The filling was so-so, a bit glutinous, but I was quite impressed with the crust. Now I can hardly wait for the summer berry bounty to come so I can whip up lots of lovely pies. And my husband will be so pleased!

The Best Pie Dough for Fruit Pies

2-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp salt
2 Tbsp sugar
12 tbsp unsalted butter, chilled, cut into 1/4 inch pieces
8 Tbsp all-vegetable shortening, chilled
6-8 Tbsp ice water

1- Mix flour, flour, and salt and sugar in food processor fitted with steel blade. Scatter butter pieces over flour mixture, tossing to coat butter with a little of the flour. Cut butter into flour with five 1-second pulses. Add shortening and continue cutting in until flour is pale yellow and resembles coarse cornmeal, with butter bits no larger than small peas, about four more 1-second pulses. Turn mixture into medium bowl.

2- Sprinkle 6 Tbsp ice water over mixture. With blade of rubber spatula, use folding motion to mix. Press down on dough with broad side of spatula until dough sticks together, adding up to 2 Tbsp more ice water if it will not come together. Divide doug into two balls and flatten each into 4-inch-wide disk. Dust disks lightly with flour, wrap each in plastic, and refrigerate at least 30 minutes, or up to 2 days, before rolling.


Helene said...

I love pie dough that contain both shortening and butter, they turn out so flaky! Your pie looks like a winner!

Anne said...

This recipe sure looks worth trying... your pie looks simply delicious :)

Patricia Scarpin said...

Wow! This pie looks so delicious! The oozing filling is just to die for...

Anuhea said...

I like that you used a litle sugar in it. I am always looking for crusts that dont make me just want to eat the filling.
And that picture is lovely, you wanna share that recipe too?

Cookie baker Lynn said...

Helen, Thanks for the encouragement; I really appreciate it!

Anne, Since I posted the filling you can try the whole pie now.

Patricia, I must confess that it was pretty tasty. Especially with ice cream. But what isn't good with ice cream?

Anuhea, ask and you shall receive....