My three blueberry bushes are loaded with big, fat berries. Three bushes are plenty to keep an average sized family in pie all season long. Last year, we lost our entire harvest to birds in a single day. This year, Doc has built a cage of sorts around the plants and netted it to keep out the birds. So far, so good! We had our first blueberry pie of the season this week. Don’t forget to buy the vanilla ice cream when you’re at the store!
Fruit pie recipes can be found in any basic cookbook. The secret to baking a great pie though, is in the crust. Sure, it’s easier to buy a frozen crust. But once you’ve mastered making your own from scratch, you’ll never go back to frozen again. Well, okay, maybe once in a while when you’re in a hurry but… Try making your crust from scratch. It really is so much better!
Recipe for a 10″ crust:
There are lots of pie crust recipes out there. I have always used this one. My mother used this one. My grandmother used this one. It has served our family well so I’ve never bothered experimenting with any others.
2 cups sifted enriched flour
1 tsp. salt
2/3 cup shortening
6 to 7 Tbsp. ice water
Sift together salt and flour. Cut in shortening. Sprinkle in water and gently mix.
Here are a few tips for baking the perfect pie crust.
Tip #1: When you mix your flour and shortening for your crust, use a pastry blender and really spend some time working the dough so that you end up with bits of dough that are the size of peas.You shouldn’t have any dry flour left at the bottom of the bowl. It all needs to be worked in. The more time you are willing to spend on this step, the flakier and more tender your crust will be. Are you one of those who cuts off the edge and throws it away? Spend some extra time blending your shortening into the flour and you’ll never cut off the crust again. It will be as soft and delicious as the rest
Tip #2: Use enough ice water to hold it together. For years I skimped on the water because I’d been told that the less water you used the flakier the crust would be. But if you don’t use enough, the crust is difficult to roll and won’t hold together. My particular pastry recipe calls for ” 6 to 7 tablespoons” of ice water. I always use the higher amount. It makes the dough easy to roll with little cracking. Why ice water? I don’t know but that’s what I was taught to use and who am I to argue with the food scientists?
Tip #3: Once you have dough mixed and formed into a nice ball, walk away. Let the dough rest for at least 15 minutes to give the gluten time to relax. An hour is better, but I’m not always that patient. The longer it rests though, the easier it will be to work with.
Get yourself one of those silicone pads to roll your crust on. Believe me, you won’t regret it. It’s one of my all time favorite kitchen gadgets. It makes rolling a crust and then getting it into the pie pan, well, as easy as pie! Some of the plastic ones have circles printed on them as a size guide. Mine is just a plain silicone mat that looks like this. It could go into the oven if I needed it to. I only use it for rolling crust though, and I love the flexibility of the silicone. You can roll the thinnest of crusts and then flip the entire pad upside down on your pie pan. There’s no fighting with trying to peel the crust off your work table or kitchen counter.
Tip #5: This isn’t so much a tip as a preference of mine. Your pie will taste good in whatever pie pan you choose to bake it in. I, however, really love these large, heavy, ceramic recipe pans. They make a bigger pie (so you need a pastry recipe for a 10 inch pan). I’ve found them pretty cheap at the local flea markets. You can always find a few on Ebay as well. They’re heavy and substantial and it makes moving the pie to and from the oven much easier when you’re not using a thin foil pan. Besides, they’re pretty. Happy baking!