Last fall – coincidentally, it was sometime around the middle of October – I wrote a primer on making the perfect pie crust. I spent a week testing five different recipes and the results told me that using an all-butter base is better than a butter/shortening blend, that adding a splash of acid to the recipe always improves the flakiness of the dough, and that the ingredients always perform best when chilled thoroughly before starting the recipe.
I still stand by all of those findings, and one year later, after many more pie crusts, and plenty of reading on the subject, I have discovered a few more tips I’d like to add to the ones I previously shared:
1. Butter and flour the inside of the pie plate, just as you would a cake pan. Not only does this prevent the dough from sticking, but it also creates a tiny barrier between the pastry and the baking dish, ensuring the bottom of the piecrust receives a lot of heat and crisps up nicely.
2. An electric mixer really does work better than a food processor for cutting the butter into the flour. It doesn’t break down the fat as much, leaving you with larger pieces of butter in your dough, which in turns yields a flakier crust.
3. To achieve the golden sheen that we all love to see in a pie crust, brush the top with an egg wash made from 1 egg mixed with 1 tablespoon of cold water. This is easily applied with a pastry brush. And although more difficult to clean, I find it easier to apply an egg wash with a traditional pastry brush than a silicone one.
4. Always create an air vent in the top of your pie to release some of the rising steam. This can be a slit or two made with a knife, or a pie bird inserted into the centre of the top crust.
5. After rolling the dough out, return it to the fridge to chill while you put together your filling. If you add a top crust, put the pie back in the fridge again, for another 10 to 15 minutes, to chill the dough once more before baking. Always transfer the dough to a hot pre-heated oven, as this will prevent the dough from shrinking.
Are you making any pies this year? What are you favourite flavours for fall?