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I Hate Pi (Crust)

Just kidding.  I LOVE pi(e)!  That was a great song that one of our closest friends and Hubby’s college roommate, made up and sang with his ukelele.  We went to a nerdy IT- but also artistic-focused school so he represented a perfect cross-section of the student body.  Cool.

Pie crust – that’s with an “e” – has been one of my arch-nemeses since I started baking.  I watched my BILs crank out one perfect pie after another from their family recipes with (un)guarded jealousy.  Mine would be dense, bland, shrunken – once my apples completely dissolved into mush!  I gave up pies for awhile, especially double-crust ones, in frustration, especially since my family didn’t warm much to them (except every once in awhile I graced my neighbors with a delicious scratch-roasted pumpkin pie – who knows how I manage to get those done).  I also didn’t like the flavor shortening imparted in crust – it certainly didn’t seem to help me with my flakiness problem.

This season, however, I came across a recipe for smoked chocolate cream pie (recipe to come) that brought all inspiration back.  Problem was, there was no pie crust recipe.  Determined to find an all-butter recipe, I attempted one from a very credible source (will not name for sheer embarrassment for my results) and at her suggestion, stuck to cutting with two knives instead of the food processor.  Failure – several hand cramps later, my butter lumps were still too big so when baked, it started frying the dough to oblivion.  I could have probably turned it into a Christmas ornament it was so solid.

Another search, and this super simple AllRecipes recipe saved my future with pie (and Thanksgiving dessert!):

All-Butter Pie Crust
adapted from AllRecipes.com with adjustments and baking instructions

I just added a touch more salt and added instructions for a food processor.  Also, I found that chilling butter in the freezer, then the crust once rolled out, increases flakiness and reduces shrinking.

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup butter, diced and chilled in freezer for 15 minutes
1/4 cup ice water

In the bowl of a food processor, combine flour and salt.  Sprinkle butter pieces over flour mixture and pulse until mixture resembles coarse breadcrumbs.  Alternatively, cut in butter with two knives, a pastry blender, or your fingers.  Stir in water, a tablespoon at a time, until mixture forms a ball. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for at least 1 hour or up to 3 days.

Roll dough out to fit a 9 inch pie plate. Place crust in pie plate. Press the dough evenly into the bottom and sides of the pie plate.  Trim off excess and make preferred decorative edge.  Freeze for 30 minutes.

To pre-bake
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Line crust with aluminum foil and pie weights or dry beans.  Bake for 20 minutes.  Remove foil and pie weights and bake for 15 minutes or until golden brown.  Cool and use in your favorite single crust pre-baked recipe.


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