Monday, March 14, 2011

Pie Pastry 101

I didn't grow up eating pie. In Hungary, where my family originates from, they don't eat pie. When my family came to Canada, while they picked up many North American traditions, pie was not one of them. So I don't have my grandmother's technique. For years I struggled with pie pastry. After all, what does "pea sized" mean exactly? Sometimes it was 'passable', while other times not so much. Either way, it always 'caused me great anxiety. Until I took a class on making pie pastry with Toronto's only Wanda Beaver, of Wanda's Pie in the Sky. She makes a mean pie and so I was thrilled at the opportunity to learn from the best. And now I too can say "easy as pie" because it is. So, I will share it with you, as best as I can.

First thing though, tools. I have tried, knives, a special pie cutter, a fork, and even my hands. And what works best is this classic pastry tool.

Next, the ingredients for a simple pie crust:

1-1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/3 cup cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2" pieces
1/3 cup vegetable shortening, also cut into 1/2" pieces
pinch of salt
1/4 cup COLD water

In a medium sized bowl, combine the flour, butter, shortening and salt and mix together. Notice how white the flour is when you start.

You are ready to add the water when it starts to take on a yellowish colour, and is 'pea-sized'.

Sprinkle all of the water on top of the mixture at once, and let it sit for approx. 30 secs.

Using your tool again, begin to mix it all together. When it all starts to gather onto your tool, it is ready. 

Shape it into a disc, wrap it in plastic wrap and chill for approx. 15 mins. before rolling it out.

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