Experimenting With Pie Crusts

I’m sure there are plenty of bakers out there that love their pie crusts.  Trusted recipes that have been used over and over, handed down from family member to family member, etc.  I, however, am not so lucky.  I’ve tried several over the years, and while I’ve been using one from Smitten Kitchen for the past few years, I’m still looking for *that* pie crust.  The one that comes out right almost every time, the one that is the perfect balance between flakiness and flavor.  I will not use shortening, so I know that makes my quest that much harder, but I still persevere.

This year, I’m trying a recipe that comes from Pioneer Woman, with a few touches and changes that I know work for me.    Her recipe calls for shortening, so I changed that out for butter (and used a little less butter than the amount of shortening she called for.)  I added sugar, used kosher salt instead of table salt, and kept a cup full of ice water handy to add to the dough.  One of the universal experiences I’ve had in my dough experiments is that rarely does the amount of water/liquid called for in a recipe actually suffice.  I started with the recommended amount, and then drizzle over more as I go.

Here’s the ingredient list:

3 cups AP flour

2 3/4 sticks of butter (BUTTER, damnit.)

1 egg, beaten

5 tablespoons water

1 tablespoon white vinegar

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1 tablespoon sugar

I start my dough by combining the flour and butter with a hand blender until the requisite crumbles form.  I have a tendency to leave my butter crumbles a little bigger than the usual “pea-sized.”  After the crumbly consistency has been reached, the rest of the ingredients are added in, and mixed by hand.  At no point in this process do I rely on any kind of machinery.  Attempts in the past to rely on the food processor or the KitchenAid have left me with doughy messes and the kind of frustration that sends most people straight to a box of refrigerated dough.

After the dough barely comes together, I divide it (by weight – the recipe above yields just shy of 30 ounces of dough) in half, bag it, flatten it out a bit, and stick it in the fridge for a minimum of an hour.  The rest is pretty typical – roll it out, lay it in a dish, fill, etc.

The verdict on the dough?  Loved it.  SUPER flaky, good taste, and easy enough to work with.  I did have to add about 4 tbl. more of water than called for, as predicted.

So, what did I use it for?  I blind baked both crusts this recipe generated, and handed one off to my dad, who made a brilliant Bourbon Sweet Potato Pie.  The second one was devoted to a Maple Walnut Pie that turned out to be absolutely delicious.  Check out the recipe for that below:

Maple Walnut Pie

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