Monday, September 27, 2010

To buy the crust or not to buy: that is the question.

To me, rolling out a pie-crust ranks as one of the most domestic activities a person can partake in, right up there with churning butter and starching shirts. Making dough puts me in the mindset of Donna Reed and hoop skirts and an earlier, simpler time both in the kitchen and out of it. But in the modern kitchen, convenience and efficiency take center stage, to the detriment of slow food—which is why, when presenting one of my favorite-to-bake berry pies to a friend or hostess, there is often considerable surprise at the revelation of a homemade crust. However, the time intensive crust is a myth. While it’s obviously not as easy as purchasing the grocery store version, the effort it takes is more than worth the reward. The homemade crust tastes better and tastes fresher, and best of all, it is neither difficult nor painstaking to get it right.

Pastry for Double Crust Pie
2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
¾ teaspoon salt
2/3 cup shortening
cold water (about 10 tablespoons)

1. In a medium bowl, stir together flour and salt. Use a pastry blender or fork to cut in shortening until pieces are pea-size.
2. Sprinkle 1 tablespoon of the water over part of the flour, use a fork to toss it into a small ball of dough. Push this to the side of the bowl and repeat, until all the flour is moistened. Use your hands to form a ball, and divide dough in half.
3. Flour a large surface for rolling. Flatten and use a rolling pin to create a circle wide enough to cover your pie pan.
4. Wrap the dough carefully around the rolling pin and unroll it over the pie plate slowly and without stretching it. Trim the edges, and pour the filling into the pie.
5. For the top, roll out another 12 inch circle. You can either transfer it whole to the top of the pie, trimming the edges and tucking them under the crust. Cut slits in the top. For a lattice top, cut the dough into ½ inch strips. Then, starting in the center of the crust, lay down one strip, and three more on each side. Fold alternate strips back halfway, and lay one more strip in the opposite direction across the center. Unfold the folded strips, fold back remaining strips. Place another pastry strip across the first set, parallel to the center. Repeat the weaving until complete.

Best Loved Berry Fruit Pie
1 recipe Double Crust
5 cups blueberries, raspberries or strawberries
2/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup flour
½ teaspoon cinnamon

1. Stir together sugar and flour. Add in berries and cinnamon, and gently mix until the berries are coated with sugar.
2. Pour filling into pie crust and place the pastry top on the pie, sealing the edges with your fingers.
3. Brush the top of the pastry with milk and sprinkle with sugar.
4. Bake in 375 degree oven for 50 minutes. Pie is done when the filling is bubbly and the crust is golden brown.

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