Flakey Mini-Pie Crusts
To my understanding, 60 or so years ago (and more) if you wanted pie you had to make your own crust. There was no refrigerated crust that you cut open and roll out. If you were going to feed your family any sort of pie or tart, you knew how to make pie crust. So then, Why is it that now we seem to always be on a constant search for a good pie crust recipe? What happened in the last 50 years that pie crust making turned into a difficult and tedious task that leads us through cookbook after cookbook in search of the “perfect” recipe? Where are all the Gramma’s, flour dusted with rolling pin in hand? And why are we content with baking our lovingly crafted fillings boasting locally grown produce and rich butter and chocolate in shortening laden, factory produced discs?! But I digress.
Making pie crust is simple! It’s Fun! This crust is flakey beyond compare, buttery and will retain its crispness even after refrigeration. And the best part is you don’t even need any equipment, just two hands, preferably cold ones, and four ingredients. I once was a food processor user myself but I saw this technique on one of my favorite blogs-confections of a master baker by Gesine Bullock Prado and it seemed just too easy. It was! The dough definitely did not get overworked and it was a very simple process to follow. You can certainly make a regular size pie with this but I am a lover of all things cute and individual, and I can say I ate a whole pie for dessert
gather the dough in a rough clump (it will seem crumbly) and dump it on a floured board.
walk away from it. for 10 whole minutes. feel free to mutter to yourself about how this is never going to come together.
Perfect Pie Crust (or as close to perfection as possible)
Technique from Gesine Bullock-Prado’s blog confections of a master baker
Yields one 9-10 inch deep dish crust or 10 individual crusts.
2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 lb of unsalted butter (two sticks), cut in pieces
scant less than 1/2 cup ice cold water
These are directions for baking a crust that you will be filling and baking more.
1. In a large mixing bowl, stir together flour and salt. Add in cut butter. Work the butter through your fingers, massaging it until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs with pieces no larger than the size of small peas. (DO NOT blitz it in a food processor-resist the urge!). However I do frequently start out by cutting the butter with two knives just to get the butter chunks smaller and then switch to using my fingers. Drizzle your ICE COLD water over the flour butter mixture and swirl the bowl around until the water is coating everything. Gather the dough together and press it into a rough ball, don’t really knead it, just gather and flatten once or twice.
2. Flour your board or counter and dump the dough onto it. Cover with a sheet of parchment paper and let it sit for 10 minutes. If you’re kitchen is warm you may want to let it do the sitting in the fridge.
3. To roll out: keep the parchment paper on the dough and roll or press the dough into a rough rectangle. There are going to be bits and pieces of dough falling everywhere-its ok, just stick them back in and keep on doing your thing. Fold over one side of the dough into the middle like a letter (see picture-its more like a gather the dough and fold). Cover with parchment again and roll back into a rectangle. Repeat this with all four sides, folding in and rolling out-you don’t need to roll out a lot just enough to make the whole thing look like a rectangle again. By the last fold your dough will come together and look like something you can work with. Then roll it out to 1/4 inch thickness in a rectangle. Use a 4 1/4-4 1/2 inch round cookie cutter to cut the right size circle for a standard size muffin pan.
4. Mold the dough to your pie pan, cover it and stick it in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes or until firm and cold to the touch. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Prick the dough with a fork all over and place cupcake liners with dry beans (or rice or lentils) inside to weigh down the bottom so it doesn’t puff up. Bake in preheated oven for 30 minutes or until just turning golden on the edges*.
*If you need a fully baked crust, remove the pie weights or beans and paper at 30 minutes and continue cooking until lightly browned all over.