Tuesday, January 26, 2010

A tart from the heart

I'm sharing my easy-peesy-lemon-squeesy, never fail, always triumphant pie crust with you, peeps. Hang onto it. Treasure it. In your dark days, it will serve you well. When faced with the craving for buttery flakiness sans hair pulling, Biblically-popularized ash wallowing, wailing and gnashing of teeth, then hunker down and mix yourself up some of my pastry.

Perfection in a patty-pan:
The Edible Rabbit's Pie crust
Adapted from the Joy of Cooking (I couldn't steal all of the credit, could I?)

Two cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 stick of salted butter plus 2 1/2 tablespoons
4 tablespoons of water

Put flour in electric mixer and shave in the butter (a paring knife works well for this) at a low speed. Try to cut the butter in quickly, having the least amount of contact with it as possible. This will keep the butter cool and make the dough easier to work with later on.

I know this is going to sound strange, but I favor cheap, salted butter when making my pie crust. Firstly, it's less expensive, which is always a good thing and secondly, it has a tendency to have a higher water content, which makes the dough easier to work with.

Continue to mix flour and butter mixture on low speed until crumbly, the consistency of cornmeal. Add the salt.

Prepare a glass of ice water and let it sit for a minute...the water needs to be really cold!

...Think arctic, North Pole, penguins, seals, polar bears, snow cone, ice cream sandwich, polar bear plunge, lemmings, Eskimos, sorbet, steering wheel in wintertime, Amy falling through the frozen pond in Little Women, To Build a Fire, Jack London, sled dog, gold rush, Klondike (which, in turn, brings us back to the ice-cream sandwich notion/Klondike bar), frostbite, Mt. Everest, base camp, Shangri La, Himalayas, Sherpa, yak, Amundsen, hell freezing over (bet that one made you think).

What can I say, peeps? My mind is a weird jumble of stuff.

OKAY, water should be cold enough by now. (Don't you just love my interactive recipes?) Add the water to the mixture one tablespoon at a time, mixing only until the dough forms a ball at the bottom of the mixer. Do not, I repeat, DO NOT add more water. I know it's tempting but just trust me on this one.

You can either dump the dough onto a floured surface (don't forget to flour your rolling pin also) or else split in half, wrap in plastic and refrigerate for a few minutes. This will make enough for for two crusts plus what I refer to as the Cook's Treat. More on the Cook's Treat later.

Here's my spiel: if you've got somewhat cool hands and have the confidence to work with the dough quickly, then I say go for it. Try to work the dough as little as possible because the more it is worked, the tougher and warmer it gets.

This dough is excellent for pies and tarts of all kinds, just insert your desired filling and enjoy!

Tonight feels like an apple night but instead of pie, I'm going to try one of those tart things where the apples are fanned out in those awesome designs...so fran├žais.

And so we progress to the Cook's Treat, which is simply my name for those leftover, perhaps somewhat soft and overworked scraps of pie dough. Don't throw these bits away! Remember, you've invested more than an entire stick of butter in this cause. You can't cure world hunger but hey, no need to contribute to it by throwing away those useful scraps.

Cook's Treat

Gather the bits of the pie dough together and:

Fill with the bodies of family/friends/pets/general trespassers that have gotten under foot during your delicate cooking process! Just kidding.

Fill with butter and cinnamon sugar.

Spread with your favorite jam, jelly or preserves.

Work citrus peel into the dough and fill with lemon or lime curd.

The possibilities are endless! Just use your imagination and enjoy the results.


  1. I haven't tried to pie crust receipe yet but all your writing is "Truly Scrumptious". A great playlist too......Fran