Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Pie Crust

Pie crust, quiche crust, tart crust - you'll be done making it before you know it, no excuses. When I told Martin I was going to kind of stick the crust recipe onto the quiche post, he was scandalized, and he's probably right; it's not an afterthought, but neither is it the main event, though you'll not be happy with your dinner or desert unless it's held in place by something that does more than tick the boxes required by a card board box: a) holds its shape b) is brown c) comes with a lid - sometimes. A nice crust can make all the difference to what is filled into it, you can give an extra kick of flavor to your quiche by adding some cracked black pepper or a handful of chopped up herbs to the crust, or you can balance the sweetness of you tart or pie depending on the filling and the natural sweetness of the fruit you plan to use by adding some sugar or vanilla sugar.



Shortcrust pastry doesn't usually contain eggs or milk and never any leavening and I regularly use two versions of the classic shortcrust pastry, one savory, one sweet; and then there is the unconventional one that has buttermilk instead of water - good for lid-on fruit pies of all kinds, from pears to peaches and back again. There's really only one rule for making a successful crust: Hurry up and get the job done. Rub the fat and flour together, but don't keep rubbing, or you'll melt the butter, resulting in oily dough that is hell to roll out and don't overwork the dough after you added the liquid - you're making pie crust, not pizza dough - you don't want to develop the gluten in your dough, but rather keep them to a minimum. If you have time to chill the dough for 30 min, it will make your life easier rolling it out; if everyone is hungry and you don't, then dinner will just be half an hour earlier. Enough said, let's have some quiche!



Quiche Crust

Tart Crust

Buttermilk Pie Crust

Depending on how thin or thick you like your crust to be, there's either leftover dough or in any case enough for a round 28 cm (11 inch) pie pan 

200 g (7 oz) flour
100 g (7 tblsp) butter
1 tsp salt
1 tsp cracked black pepper
or dried herbs
cold water
200 g (7 oz) flour
140 g (10 tblsp) butter
1 tsp salt
3 tblsp sugar
1 tsp vanilla sugar
cold water
375 g (13 oz) flour
220 g (16 tbsp) butter
1 tsp salt
1 tblsp sugar
125 ml (1/2 cup) buttermilk
cold water for brushing the dough
sugar for sprinkling on top

For all recipes:

1) Mix together flour and salt. Add sugar for the sweet dough or cracked pepper or herbs for the savory dough.

2) Cube the butter and add to the flour mix. With your hands, break up the butter pieces and mix with the flour until everything is crumbly and the butter pieces are about the size of small peas.

3) Add the cold water for the quiche and tart crusts, or the buttermilk for the pie crust and mix until the dough comes together. Form into a disk, wrap in plastic and put in the fridge for 30 minutes.

4) On a lightly floured surface, roll out your dough some bigger than the pan you plan to use and line the quiche/tart/pie pan with it. When making pie, split the dough disk in two, roll out and use one half for bottom and sides and the other half as a lid. flip the overhanging dough up over the lid and crimp it shut to avoid a big mess from bubbling fruit juices. Cut a ventilation slit in the middle of the lid, brush with water, sprinkle with sugar and bake.

5) Bake at 190 C (375 F) according to the filling you're using, but about 30 to 40 minutes.

6) If you like to fill your crust with a filling that doesn't need baking you will have to bake your crust without the filling in it. For blind baking, line the crust with parchment paper and weigh it down with dried beans or use fancy pie weights, if you have them. Bake for 15 min, remove weights and parchment and dry out the bottom of the crust for another 5 minutes. Cool and fill - with chocolate ganache, perhaps, or lime custard?


Note: for a smooth edge, let the dough hang down the outside of your pie pan and roll over it with your rolling pin - magic!

Another note: for all of you with kids-who-carry-lunchboxes: if you want to feel like Super Mom or Dad, when making quiche, re-roll the scraps and line small quiche forms with it and fill and bake: instant lunch and happy kids the next day - they're in high demand at our house.

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