Thursday, December 10, 2009

A Tale of Two Crusts

As I've discussed, I have a somewhat irrational fear of making pie crusts.  I have taken the first step to combat this phobia and have jumped into the no-roll pie crust arena.  I'm not sure what it is about the rolling pin the scares me, but these just seem a bit easier to manage.  I've tried out two different no-roll pie crusts, and they both taste great.  I would recommend the shortbread crust because it's simpler, but if you like the flavor of traditional pie crusts, the second crust hits that on the mark. 

This simpler, shortbread crust, is from Martha Stewart Living.  So far I've made the crust with sugar pie and pumpkin pie.  The shortbread flavor and texture goes perfectly with creamy pies like that.  And it's so easy too.

It has amazingly few ingredients, and all stuff you have around your kitchen.  4 tablespoons butter, 3 tablespoons sugar, 1 egg yolk, 1 cup flour, and 1 teaspoon salt. 

In a bowl or stand mixer you mix together butter and sugar (I used a stand mixer once and did it by hand the second time - the texture was better when I did it by hand).  Add in the egg yolk and stir to combine.  Next, add the 1 cup flour and 1 teaspoon kosher salt and stir until the mixture is crumbly.

Then dump all your crumbs into a 9-inch pie dish.  Realize you poured it into a 10-inch pie dish and swap it out for your 9-incher. 

Use your fingers to press the crust into the bottom and up the sides of the dish.  Freeze the crust about 20 minutes, until it becomes firm.  If you are prebaking the crust, bake it at 375 degrees for 17-22 minutes, rotating halfway through.  This crust burns easily, so make sure to check it early and often.  

The other crust I tried is from Joy the Baker and it has the delicious flaky texture of more traditional pie crusts.  First you grate 4 tablespoons of frozen butter on a cheese grater.  This was a first for me!

Sift together 1 1/2 cups flour, 3/4 teaspoon salt, 2 tablespoons sugar, and 1/8 teaspoon baking powder.  To that bowl add your 4 tablespoons grated butter and 1 tablespoon room temperature cream cheese.

Combine the ingredients with your hands until a sandy texture forms and all of the butter and cream cheese is well incorporated.

In a small bowl, whisk together 1/4 cup vegetable oil and 2 tablespoons cold milk.  Add the wet ingredients to your sandy mixture and mix together with a fork until all of the liquid has been incorporated with the flour mixture. 

This is the texture you are looking for.  Add your crust to a 9-inch pie dish.  

Press the crust into the bottom and sides of the pan, making sure it is even.  Place the crust in the freezer until it is ready to be filled.  If prebaking the crust (I wasn't), bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes, covered with foil and beans (or some object to weigh it down). 

I used this crust to make apple crumb pie - an apple pie with not one, but two crusts that didn't require a rolling pin.  Hooray!  Here is the recipe for this delicious and no-roll pie crust from Joy the Baker.  

And for the shortbread pie crust...

Press-in Shortbread Piecrust
From Martha Stewart Living, 2009

4 tablespoons softened butter
3 tablespoons sugar
1 egg yolk
1 cup flour
1 teaspoon kosher salt

Combine 4 tablespoons softened butter with 3 tablespoons sugar.  Mix in 1 egg yolk.  Add 1 cup flour and 1 teaspoon kosher salt and stir until mixture is well-incorporated and has a crumbly texture.  Press into a 9-inch pie dish and freeze for about 20 minutes before filling or prebaking.  If prebaking (for pumpkin pie or similar), bake at 375 degrees for 17-22 minutes, rotating halfway through.  Watch closely to make sure it doesn't burn.

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