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Thursday, October 6, 2022

Flakiest Pie Crust

Homemade apple pie is my very favorite food in the world.
This is more fragile than Never-Fail Pie Crust (which I recommend if you are a beginner--it's the recipe I used all through my college years).  The finished product here is so beautiful, flaky, and delicious I can hardly stand to write about it.

The key to any good pastry is to handle the dough as little as possible.  You want gluten (stringy strands of protein) in your breads, which is why you knead bread dough so much.  But since you want a flaky, airy pie crust  (not rubbery or tough) you don't want gluten to form.  That's why you use ice water, and why a food processor can do the job better than a pastry cutter--you won't be handling the dough as much, therefore it won't warm up, therefore little gluten will form.

I got this recipe from Every Day FOOD magazine (that Reader's Digest-sized Martha Stewart cooking mag) and it was photographed and explained so well that I was sold before I even took a bite.  So I tried to be as good about taking pictures for you.

After the dough comes together, form a ball, wrap in plastic,
then flatten into a 1-inch disk and chill for at least one hour
This is my best pie-crust tip ever: before you roll out the chilled
dough, indent the edges with your knuckles--it makes it so cracks
don't form and you end up with one big, round, pretty pie crust


Another tip: carefully roll the dough around your rolling pin,
then unroll it over your pie dish--it makes transferring the
dough from counter top to pie pan a cinch.
I didn't take pictures of the actual apples.  I used my peeler/corer/slicer to prepare about nine apples.  Most were Pink Ladies, but I think there was a Braeburn and a Fuji in there as well. (People always say to use Granny Smith apples for pie--but they are not my favorite.  Pink Ladies are delicious and crisp, and won't go soggy like a Red Delicious . . . I almost always use three different kinds of apples).  I sprinkle about 2/3 cup of cinnamon sugar over the sliced apples (2 tsp cinnamon to 1 cup of sugar) and coat the apples evenly, then let them sit while I roll out the dough.  You can use a little bit of lemon juice to keep the apples from browning, but I never do. 
I bought this pie top cutter in an Amish village in Missouri--you can
get all kinds of designs online . . . just google "pie top cutter."
It's fun to make a pie that looks so perfect--but it is also a PAIN
to carefully cut out the shapes and remove the stencil.  Fortunately,
this one turned out without cracking the crust. 
Especially for the top, I recommend rolling
up the dough and then transferring.
You don't have to add the "cut-outs"--it looks pretty just like this.
I add the apples because my kids love eating them off the top after
it has baked (some people have a harder time waiting, obviously)
Before I put the dough-apples on top, I brush the whole crust with ice water, using a pastry brush.  It helps the apples stick.  I didn't use an egg wash on this particular pie--just the water.  Then I very lightly sprinkled cinnamon-sugar over the top before placing the pie in the oven.  Here are some tips for the tops of your pies:
My husband was strictly a chocolate dessert kind of guy before he met me.  I love chocolate, too, but nothing really beats a made-from-scratch pie.  He recently told me, in a reluctant-but-satisfied tone of voice, "I hate to admit it, Bec, but I think I like your apple pie just as much as chocolate cream pie."

I have arrived.

(Also, I wish I had the apron that happy housewife is wearing).

Never-Fail Pie Crust

This is not the crust I use anymore (check out my Flakiest Pie Crust recipe), but it was my go-to recipe for years. It's a beginner's crust, and perfect for helping you feel confident about baking pie. It's not a fragile dough and can be re-rolled. With any pie crust or pastry, though, you want to handle the dough as little as possible to prevent the formation of gluten, long strands of protein that are desirable in breads and other "kneaded" foods, but which make your pie crust heavy, tough, and not flaky.