Sweet Success

Posted: August 3rd, 2009 | Author: adi | Filed under: Uncategorized | 7 Comments »
Pictures wait, eating comes first

Pictures can wait, eating comes first!

After the blueberry pie disappointment, I was determined to try again. After prodding Matt to pick a type of pie, he decided on peach, and though I’ve never baked a peach pie before, I went with it. I am SO glad I did. This pie was perfect. The only thing I can conceivably say was wrong with it is that it could have used more crust. The fresh peaches, twelve large ones, all peeled, sliced, drained, and sweetened with a cup of sugar, were still slightly firm and had just a hint of tartness. I added about a quarter cup of flour, some fresh-ground nutmeg and cinnamon, and called it done. The crust was that gloriously easy-to-remember halving crust–four parts flour, two parts butter, one part ice water. The END. I went with two cups flour, one cup butter, and a bit less than half a cup of ice water. Crust takes practice, but really, the main rule is just not to overdo it. It will crumble at the edges. It will fall apart if you aren’t careful. It will look like a mess and you will worry it’s awful, but when it bakes your faith will be handsomely rewarded. In the picture it looks a little watery, I know. That’s because I ate this STRAIGHT from the oven, and gave it no time to set. This is a no-no, but I don’t care. I wanted my pie and I wanted it NOW. It melted the whipped cream but ohhh it was divine.

And because I got a lot of “ACK PIE CRUST IS SCARY” notes last time, here’s exactly how I make crust:

1. Measure two cups of flour into a mixing bowl, and refrigerate. I never time this, I just toss it in and then work on something else for a while. In this case it was slicing peaches. Drop a couple ice cubes into a glass of water and stick that in the fridge, too. Don’t worry about measuring it yet. The butter should stay in the fridge, also.

2. Cut the butter into chunks, handling as little as possible. I don’t have a good pastry cutter so this speeds up the two-knives method considerably. (If you have a pastry cutter, don’t worry about it.) Using the backs of two butter knives, scissor the chunks of butter into bits. Coarse meal or baby peas are good images to keep in mind. If the bowl starts to feel room temperature, throw it back in the fridge. You can do this as often as you like–there’s no chemical reaction here to slow down or mess up or anything, and the colder your butter is, the flakier your crust will be.

3. Once the butter is cut, drizzle on some of the ice water. Using a fork, toss the dough until the water is absorbed. It shouldn’t stick together in a ball, but it should create bigger chunks than you had with just the butter. You can always add more, but you can never add less. For good measure, stick this back in the fridge and finish the filling.

4. Roll out, one crust at a time. The amounts given will be plenty for a two-crust pie, with bits left over so you can make cinnamon and sugar snacks. Roll the crust GENTLY, and don’t overwork it. I repeat: DON’T OVERWORK IT. Like I said, it WILL crumble at the edges. It’s better too crumbly than overworked. It should end up about a quarter-inch thick.

5. Roll your dough onto your rolling pin, and transfer to the pie pan. If you’re worried about a soggy crust, brush it with a little bit of beaten egg and bake it on its own for a few minutes. If not, fill it up and dot your filling with butter, then top it and brush the top crust with more beaten egg. I never use a whole egg, but I have a dog, so that works out ;) You can also sprinkle your crust with a little sugar, which is pretty but unnecessary.

6. Bake for ten minutes at 450, then decrease to 350 and finish baking (another half hour or so, depending). I don’t know why. I just know it works. If the edges start to get too brown, just wrap them in tinfoil. If you’re afraid of burning yourself, have someone else do it. I’ve been burned so many times I hardly feel it any more.

If you do this, I PROMISE you will have a crust you love. Matt was one of those people who left his crust on his plate and ate the filling of the pie. After a slice of this peach pie, he was a convert. If you are someone who’s just not that impressed by pastry, DO THIS. You will amaze yourself. I know it seems daunting. I know you’re afraid. But it is soooooo worth it. And if the lattice is too scary? Don’t do it! I saw a gorgeous crust that was pseudo-lattice–thicker strips in the middle, thinner on the outside, and no weaving. Another great way is with a cookie cutter–pick a shape, cut out pieces, and just lay them on top of the filling. Some overlapping is fine, but too much will cause the crust not to bake. I’ve seen this with a leaf shape that looked especially gorgeous for a Thanksgiving pie.

And for extra oomph, make your own whipped cream. It’s not hard, at ALL (unless you’re using square tupperware), and it tastes a million times better than from the store. All you do is whisk heavy cream and add vanilla (or almond, which I prefer) extract and sugar to taste. I like to use confectioner’s sugar because it’s not grainy, but be careful because it’s easy to add too much.

And please. SHARE! I would absolutely love to hear your stories and see photos.

Good luck Pretty Girls and Boys!


7 Comments on “Sweet Success”

  1. 1 leah said at 4:20 pm on August 3rd, 2009:

    THANK YOU for the instructions. me= one of the scared ones! I hope to try this soon. SOOO hungry now! and i’m with ya on the fresh whipped cream.

  2. 2 Adi said at 11:16 pm on August 3rd, 2009:

    I’m rooting for you!! I hope to see this pass inspection on the test kitchen ;)

  3. 3 Rita said at 11:16 am on August 4th, 2009:

    Wow! Having never, ever made a crust I really, REALLY appreciate the detailed instructions! Thanks!! This pie looks amazing!

  4. 4 Johanna said at 6:48 pm on August 4th, 2009:

    I love making pie crust. Honestly, pie crust is my favorite part of pie, which is really saying something, since I love pie.
    My crust is the same for both sweet and savory applications (pies and quiches, eg).
    3 parts flour, 1 part fat, a teeny bit of salt, and ice water as well. Much more by touch though.
    For 2 crusts, I do 2 cups of flour, 2/3cup of butter, shortening, or a mix, and a pinch of salt. I mush in my fat by hand (fingertips) because I have never had success with knives, forks, or pastry cutters.
    I add more ice water than you do, but I’ve been lucky to never have a gummy crust *knock wood*. I go till a raggedy-ass ball forms, then knead 3 times (only 3!!!) and put it in the fridge.

    I love pie crust. sigh.

  5. 5 adi said at 8:08 pm on August 4th, 2009:

    Josie–I love that baking is one of those things where perfection can come in multiple ways. I have no doubt that your crust is amazing, and yet I wouldn’t change a thing about mine. It’s awesome, right? =) That said, I would LOVE to swap pies sometime!

    Rita–GO FOR IT! I’m so glad you and Leah liked my instructions. Now I just hope they work out for you!!

  6. 6 Jesse said at 5:40 pm on August 8th, 2009:

    Johanna’s never had a peach. She must make this.

  7. 7 Natalie said at 12:21 pm on August 10th, 2009:

    Adi, your crust is almost the same as mine, but I usually add a little salt and sugar and replace two ounces of butter with an equal amount of shortening. NOTHING beats a butter crust, but a little shortening helps with flakiness and workability. I also use the food processor, which makes it easy as, well, pie. Great for pastry-phobes. Just don’t overdo things, and remember to chill baby chill.

    FYI – my pie crust comes from “The Way to Cook” by the immortal Julia Child, except for the cake flour, which I never have around.


Leave a Reply