After making that pie, I was mad, you guys. Making the crust made me mad. I didn’t want to be mad. I wanted to eat delicious crust wrapped around a fruity filling (that is, “pie”). So I did what I always do when some aspect of cooking kicks my ass: I went to my friends. I believe what I said was something along the lines of “FUCK PIE CRUST help me make it less enragingly.” My friends are smart and skilled and had many tips, and when I sat down to make this pie, I had all of their advice open in my browser, ready to be referenced at a moment’s notice.
My watchword was “calmly.” I decided I was going to have faith in the process. I was going to trust that this recipe would work, given that its creator is a fucking professional pie baker. And I was going to accept that pie crust is not something I can make in twenty minutes and be thrilled with the result.
So, that crust situation I had? I don’t have it anymore.
The crust for this pie was fucking impeccable. For days, it maintained a crisp texture and excellent flavor. It cut easily with only a little brittleness in the outer edge. It looked pretty. It was everything I’ve ever wanted my crust to be. Here’s how I did it.
* Everyone always says that EVERYTHING NEEDS TO BE COLD and now I believe them. I didn’t keep my dry ingredients in the freezer, but I did keep my butter in the freezer until the moment of incorporation. I took it out to chunk it, and I then wrapped it all up in a dish towel and put it back for the intervening minutes so it would be as cold as possible when I put it in the food processor. I mixed my milk and vinegar in advance and stored them in the fridge until the moment I added them to the dough. I think this definitely contributed to the level of crispness I was later able to achieve. (For those of you who don’t know, colder ingredients steam when they hit the hot oven, creating pockets of air that lead to fluffiness/flakiness. Here is an article about butter. For those of you who are facebook friends with me, you can see me learning all about this in the Note titled “serious baking questions.” from 2011.)
But I didn’t stop there. I refrigerated this bitch after I took it out the food processor and pulled it together (more about that in the next bullet). I then refrigerated the half I wasn’t rolling out (once I remembered I’d made a double crust recipe, which was ten frustrating minutes into the rolling out process. Amazing how much easier it goes when you’re not doing double work). And then once it was rolled out, I refrigerated the large rolled-out sheet. And then after it was pressed into the pie dish, I refrigerated the pie dish. Basically, I refrigerated for at least ten minutes and at most thirty minutes after every step and I am glad that I did.
* One of my biggest sources of frustration last time I made crust was that the quantity of wet ingredients called for in the recipe did not seem scientifically capable of moistening the quantity of dry ingredients. This time, I did add probably 2 tablespoons more milk than the recipe called for, but I really tried to stay minimal and stick to the recipe. I turned the dough onto the counter and, as last time, felt strongly that there was no way this was enough wet, but I forced myself to stay calm and trust the process, and I started working the dough. I didn’t full out knead it, conscious of introducing as little body temperature as possible into my COLD!!! dough. I just sort of pulled the dry bits at the edges into the middle and prodded and pressed and lo and behold it started to come together. I did this for a few minutes and then I refrigerated. Faith in the process, you guys, faith in the process.
* For rolling out, one of my friends recommended saran wrap between the crust and counter and more saran between the crust and rolling pin. I didn’t have saran, but I did have wax paper, and I foolishly assumed there would be no difference.
So, um. Wax paper is … waxed. It doesn’t have traction. And if you try to roll out a pie crust between two pieces of wax paper, it will slide all over the counter and you will become enraged.
Packing tape is your friend. It was mine. Just tape all your wax paper to the counter, get back to rolling out, and put saran on your shopping list.
* Remember you are making a double crust and do not try to roll out the entire dough ball as one crust. You will be mad.
I think that’s it. I think that’s everything. It was a long process but the resultant crust was so, so worth it.
Oh and the pie. Ha! The pie was fine. You toss peaches with fresh ginger, powdered ginger and sugar. I definitely prefer Deb’s peach pie filling, but this is my go-to crust, now and forever.
Because of the extent to which I intend to blog about this cookbook, I will not be publishing the recipes. However, if a particular pie speaks to you, let me know and I’ll be happy to send the recipe along privately.