I don’t remember much about my history classes except that they were a really great time to catch a few Zzzz’s, and I think that I’ve actually learned more about history from my children than in all my years of high school combined. If you are paying attention to the history that is being made these days, you’ll know there are a lot of Americans who feel more than a little disgruntled at the moment. And, while the members of Congress miss their parades, barbecues and photo ops this July Fourth to argue over what compromises they refuse to make, I’m getting ready for a house full of friends and feeling grateful to live in the land of Jersey Fresh blueberries, which are gloriously in season now.
So, I thought I’d give you something really special, totally free, with absolutely no strings attached. My recipe for the all-time best pie crust EVAH.
- 2 1/2 cups unbleached flour
- 1 Tablespoon of granulated sugar
- A sprinkle of ground cinnamon
To the dry mix, quickly add:
- 6 Tablespoons Crisco shortening at room temperature
- 1 Stick unsalted butter at refrigerator temperature, cut into tiny chunks
Using your hands and not a mixer or tool, blend the flour mixture, the shortening and the butter until you have a chunky and not completely uniform bowl of ingredients. This is where the magic of this crust happens and the trick is knowing when to stop and how many pieces of the butter to leave alone. For the crust to be wonderfully flaky, you will need some of those butter chunks to stay chunky. You have to work fast in this step! Get your fingers right in there and squish up the stuff.
Then, add just enough iced water, in small amounts, to pull it into a dough ball. I have no idea exactly how much water that is, probably about 3 tablespoons, but maybe more and maybe less. You want it more crumbly than gooey and, if it gets gooey, add a little more flour and you’ll save it just fine. Divide it into two parts (I make mine like flat patties rather than balls because it’s easier when you roll it out and doesn’t crack along the edges as much), wrap them in wax paper and put it in your refrigerator for at least 3 hours or overnight. If you’re in a hurry, shove it in the back where it’s colder.
Roll out your crusts as you would normally do. I have a special, foolproof method where I put the dough patty on a floured paper towel, sprinkled with more flour on top, and covered with the wax paper it was wrapped in. You roll it out between the paper towel and the wax paper and it turns into a dough “sticker” that you can put anywhere without breaking–you just lift the dough with the wax paper, place it where you want it, then peel off the wax paper slowly. You can even freeze the dough but I’m a stickler for a freshly made crust and only ever make them on the spot. Fill it with blueberries, peaches, apples, raspberries, cherries or whatever you like. My standard fruit filling is enough fruit to fill up the crust to the top, 3/4 cup sugar, one Tablespoon of vanilla extract, an egg yolk and about a 1/4 cup flour. I brush the top crust with the egg white, sprinkle with a sugar and cinnamon mixture and bake 15 minutes at 425˚F and then (without opening the oven) 30-40 minutes at 375˚F.
When I was thinking about what to tell you all today, I saw this quote by Bill Clinton:
There is nothing wrong with America that cannot be cured by what is right with America.
Say what you will about Bill, but I think he’s right. And, trust me, this pie crust is just right and it’s 100% American. Happy Fourth, everyone…I hope you are spending the day with your favorite Americans in a beautiful backyard somewhere in this amazing nation with lots of good food and, just maybe, a delicious, homemade pie.
TRY THIS WEEK: Learn how to do something simple and new.