My mother made the best pie. Ever. It was her crust that was incredible. I asked my Mom once how she got started making pies. She said that her mother made cakes all the time, really good cakes and she wanted to be different. So she learned to make pies.
I tried, when she was still here, to make her crust and had lessons from my Mom several times, even once with my daughter.
The crust was so hard for me. I just couldn’t get it. So I would give up, use a pre-made pie crust from Pillsbury and homemade filling. I even had the audacity (that’s how I look back at it now!) to make this kind of pie when my Mom came for dinner and she would always tell me how delicious it was. And she really meant it: always encouraging, never selfish.
But I could tell the difference. Her pie crust was flaky and melt in your mouth delicious.
So now, several years later, I am back on the pie road. My inspiration to start again was a video of a Pie Making Contest Winner and her recipe. Video’s are good. It seemed simple enough watching her. And she used Crisco Shortening, different from my Mom’s crust, maybe this would be the answer. Well, I made 3 crusts in one day and got 2 apple pies out of it. The first crust was the all Crisco Shortening and a disaster because I couldn’t roll it out. (And this is from a person that just recently and successfully made chocolate croissants! A complex dough! With a lot of rolling! Sigh.) It stuck all over the place so I threw it out! It looked so easy in the video! I made another all Crisco and decided to roll it between two sheets of wax paper. That was ok but the wax paper started falling apart 2/3 through the rolling. So then I decided to look up a recipe with Crisco and butter because I was running out of Crisco. This recipe used 1/2 Crisco and 1/2 butter and less flour. I rolled that one between pieces of plastic wrap, which was better but it barely fit into the pie plate because the amount of crust was too small. I realized a pie crust needs at least 2 cups of flour for a double crust pie. I was learning. The pies were ok, I didn’t care for the crust and the filling was not how I remember my Mom’s. So much for the informative video and prize-winning recipe.
My Mom used lard and a bit of butter in her crust recipe and she never used the Cuisinart to cut the fat into the flour. She used a Pastry Blender/Cutter and a fork to mix the water, flour and fat together. Well, I needed to take baby steps if I was going to get over my pie crust phobia. So I decided to find a recipe (so I could read directions) that used lard and butter and the Cuisinart. Bon Appetit had just what I was looking for and also great tips on how to roll out dough using sheets of parchment. Ok, I could do that. Maybe if I practiced rolling out dough between parchment, I could eventually move up to no parchment rolling.
So below are the links to the pie crust recipe and tips on how to roll it out:
I ended up freezing the butter and the lard (I highly recommend lard as opposed to Solid vegetable shortening) cubes for about a 1/2 hour, to make sure they were cold enough.
I kept on gathering sections of the dough when it was ready, setting it aside and adding more ice water to the rest of the dough until all of it was gathered. I probably used 10 tablespoon of cold water, total. This made me extremely nervous and the part I disliked the most besides rolling. After discussing this with my daughter, she made me realize that the more you do this the better you will get. Sigh. Again.
The rolling between the parchment worked well. Except I had to lift the parchment once on each side and add a bit more flour so the dough wouldn’t stick so much when I finally took it all off.
*Also, I read a tip on how to prevent too much space between the baked crust and the apple pie filling: press down on the apples after putting them into the pie crust and do not stretch the pie crust over the filling. Gently place it over the pie filling.
I knew my Mom did not put a lot of extra stuff into her filling. It was truly just about the apples so I went to Salingers Orchard , a local orchard that grows apples, pears and peaches plus other fruits. They had a nifty little card that told you exactly what apples were good for: pie, sauce, eating out of hand, etc. I realized that the Empire that I used in my first two attempts was the wrong apple, even though that’s what it said in the recipe. Salingers recommends, from very good to excellent: GINGERGOLD, CORTLAND, MUTSU/CRISPIN, JONAGOLD, GOLDEN DELICIOUS, WINESAP, NORTHERN SPY, IDA RED, GRANNY SMITH. After looking at several recipes and trying to channel my Mom, I came up with this recipe:
1 recipe of Best Ever Pie Crust or your favorite pie crust recipe, enough for 2 crusts
7 – 8 cups of 1/4 inch sliced apples (cored and pared) see above for recommended varieties
1 tablespoon of lemon juice
1-1/2 cups sugar
2 tablespoons of flour
1 teaspoon of cinnamon
2 tablespoons butter, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Roll out one dough disk and place into pie dish. You may want to trim a bit so that it’s an even circle. In a small bowl, add the sugar, flour and cinnamon. Mix thoroughly. Place cut apples in a very large bowl. Pour in lemon juice and stir thoroughly. Add sugar mixture and again stir thoroughly. Pour apple mixture into pie crust, distributing the apples evenly. *Press down on the apple mixture (see above). Distribute cubed butter over apple mixture. Place second rolled out dough disk on top. Fold edges of the top crust under the edge of the first crust. Crimp edges. With a small paring knife cut vent holes into top crust. Place in oven and bake for 50 minutes to 1 hour, until golden brown. Test for doneness by inserting a carving fork into pie: if there is very little resistance then the pie is done. If not, bake for another 5-10 minutes. You may want to cover the pie at this point with some aluminum foil so that the crust does not burn. Carefully remove from oven and cool on a rack. Serve warm or at room temperature. Pie will keep covered, on counter for 2 days. If it lasts that long……
fat and flour, after pulsed in Cuisinart: (sorry, no pictures of actually adding the iced water and mixing. I was a nervous wreck and the camera was the last thing I was thinking of)
dough, after refrigerated and on parchment:
6 inch disk, after rapping:
dough rolled out:
into pie plate:
this is my new toy: Apple Peeler, Corer, Slicer. Alot of fun when it works. You need very firm apples, soft ones create a mess:
peeled, sliced and cored all at once:
finished apple, cut in half:
apple mixture and butter added:
second crust on top (I probably should have trimmed a bit more, will do next time):
folding top crust edge under bottom crust edge:
ready to go in oven: (this is my first good attempt. I know the more I make them, the more perfect they will look. But taste in my book is more of a priority)
out of oven:
thumbs up from my husband, the pie expert and a real fan of my Mom’s pies: