It has been such a long time since I’ve baked anything. Mainly because I’m great at baking but not the biggest consumer of baked goods. My husband, however, has a big sweet tooth and can devour an entire pie or cake by himself every single week and almost always comes home with on or the other from he store-bought section once he runs out.
Since it is Thanksgiving and also our first thanksgiving we were to share together miles and miles away from all of our family and friends, it was completely up to me to make our dinner. Usually I just pitch it one or two things to the spread but this year, it was just us and I am the chef here. I had to roll up my sleeves and get busy. The pie, for me, was the easiest most exciting part since I cook every night and bake only ever blue moon. I was excited to achieve the flakiest butteriest pie crust ever.
The way I know the mission has been accomplished is when rolling out the dough to fit into the pie pan, the layers can be seen even before it is baked. That is the most exciting part. And then, after baking for about 1 hour, seeing those layers come too life – All puffed up, separated and airy, I can’t help but squeal with excitement. Most times I have to have a slice just to test out my ideas and techniques althought I’m generally baking for others and not myself.
Pie crust is simple to make. I would even say it doesn’t even require too much measuring. It’s one of those doughs where as long as it comes together to the right texture and there’s enough butter its not going to fail. For this pie I used
2 1/2 cups of all purpose flour
1 cup of butter
1tsp of kosher salt
1 tbsp of raw cane sugar
a bit of cold water I put in the freezer as I was measuring out other ingredients
If you have made a pie crust or read a recipe anywhere, you know that the first step of a well formed crust is assuring that your butter is cold and thoroughly coated in the flour. I call my pie crust technique a “partially laminated” dough due to the sheets or slices of butter I use. I take one full stick of butter (or 1/2 a cup) and cut that into small cubes. With my fingers I break them up even further into the flour, making sure each peach stays coated and continue this method by hand until the flour looks more coars in texture. A pasty cutter can be used for this step as well.
I then take the other 1/2 cup of butter and slice it into this slices. This is where the “partially laminated” part comes in. These thin slices act like the sheets of butter you see in croissant-making or danishes that gives it that light and airy flakiness. I repeat the step of coating each piece of butter in flour and tearing each butter sheet into smaller pieces , and coating it again.
Next up is to bring the dough together! drizzling in a couple tablespoons at a time of the ice cold water to keep the butter cold. I use a spoon to get it to come together at first, and then my hands. I do not knead it at all as this can result in a tough and chewy dough and often times, warm and sticky butter from over working. To avoid this I allow it to just come together and if there are dry bits on the bottom of the bowl, I remove the dough and continue with the water on those bottom portions before adding it into the first dough ball.
I put this dough ball into a freezer bag and let it chill and rest for a couple hours while we ran errands and continued on once we returned , rolling it out and placing it in the pie dish.
you can see big chunks of butter in the dough! and upon rolling it out, these pieces flattin into sheets within the dough. These miniature sheets are what creaters the flakes.
From here, I fold the dough 3 times until it is triangular and proceed to roll it out one final time into a circle, flipping my pie dish upside down and cutting away the excess dough enough for it to fit comfortably inside the dish.
After fitting the dough into the pan, its time to cut any excess from the perimeter and put it back into the fridge to chill and rest before filling. This pie crust can be used for any tart, hand pie, fruit pie etc I used a quick apple pie filling because it’s my husbands favorite aside from peach. for the filling I used about 8 fresh apples peeled and sliced , 1/4 cup brown sugar, 1 tbsp cinnamon and 1 tsp of nutmeg all rough measurements, and topped with small cubes of butter.
I then formed the lattice top over the pie, crimped the edges, & let chill over night for thanksgiving day. It can be baked right away but since I was the only one cooking, I used the night before as a prep day to set myself up for an easy cooking day for Thanksgiving where I could just pop things into the oven and focus on only the side dishes.
Before popping the pie into the oven thankgiving day, I preheated the over to 400 degrees, brushed the crust with a bit of egg wash for extra browning and sprinkled a bit more raw cane sugar over the lattice and let it bake for 1 hour.
You can see the puffiness and rise of the lattice itselfe and the many flakes throughout even before cutting. The pie, upon taking it out of the oven was bubbling creating a nice apple sauce with the butter topping, brown sugar, and spices melting together over the apples.
There is nothing like mastering your favorite dish or bake to share with others. It gives your family a way to indulge without reading the back of an ingredients list, wondering about preservatives or if anything is organic and healthful. It is still desert, however it takes out the additives taste and cake-like questionable crusts that were factory made and in a hurry by unknown hands. Most will agree the crust is the best part!
It’s worth the time and study and if you adopt this technique I hope you enjoy it.