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Grandmother + Martha Stewart = Awesome Pie Crust

May 10, 2010

When I was little, pretty much every Christmas my would say, “Go help your Grandma with the pies, learn the secret of her crust.”  Yeah, I’m sure this was in part motivated by a desire to preserve tradition, hold on to family recipes… ya da ya da.  But really, the woman is a crust hound and wanted to develop a year long source for her crust fix beyond the holidays.  (The Christmas Story dad is to turkey : as : my Mom is to pastry crust)

I didn’t really pay much attention to her pleas until I became interested in cooking on my own steam.  But once that happened, BAM, I mastered Mama’s crust.  Like pretty much all her recipes, her pie crust is relatively simple, with few moving parts and economical ingredients.  A stick of crisco, cut into 2 1/4 cups of flour dash of salt, couple teaspoons of ice water as needed.  It’s a solid crust, no doubt.  And I particularly like her method of rolling the dough out in between two pieces of wax paper (opening up to add flour periodically) and then using the wax paper to flip the sheet of dough in the pie plate.  Prevents sticking to the counter every single time and doesn’t require the dexterity of wrapping the dough around a rolling pin to transfer it to the pie plate.

However, much to my Dad’s dismay (because what could be improved on his mom’s recipes), I got the itch to innovate.  Martha Stewart’s recipe for pate brisee (fancy schmancy pie crust) provided the needed inspiration.  Martha’s pie crust calls for more fat (all butter), more flour, and a touch of sugar. I liked the amounts (a thicker crust being more forgiving in the transfer process), but all butter was a little intense.  So I schmooshed Grandma and Martha together to produce what has now become my stand-by pie crust.

LB’s Pie Crust

  • 8 tablespoons of butter (one stick)
  • 10 tablespoons of crisco
  • 2 3/4 cups of all purpose flour
  • 3/4 ish teaspoon of salt
  • tablespoon or less of sugar
  • 6 (give or take) tablespoons of ice water

The fat is cold before I cut it (with a pastry cutter, because I lack a food processor) into the flour/salt/sugar. When it’s pretty fine, meaning no pieces of uncut fat the size of a pea, I push it all together with the aid of ice-water – no more than is needed to get it to come together.  I split the dough in half and roll out it using the wax paper technique mentioned above.

And then its ready to fill with tasty tasty pie innards.  (Note: the recipe makes two sheets of dough)

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