Sunday, November 29, 2009

Seven Pies for Seven Brothers: Part One

You may be thinking to yourself why the heck would I be making
so many pies and how in the world do I know seven brothers,
well the answers are simple. First, I like pie. I also would like to
mention that the holidays are here and you all need to refresh
your traditional pie making habits. Seven brothers, no. I just
hijacked the name, but if I end up eating all of these on my
own I will be the size of seven brothers by New Years.

Step One: Revamp or Perfect your crust

Although its been a while since I've even tasted a store bought
pie (blasphemy!) my main complaint at the time is that the crust
either appeared to be made out of tissue paper and paper mache
or rolled out- sugary wall paper paste that absorbed the jelly
filling. Yeah, I've been making my own pies for years and a
damn good crust is something I kind of pride myself on.
Now I don't plan on divulging all my secrets of pie making to you
here and now, but I want to just state some simple things.

Be inventive and match your crust to your pie, it doesn't all
have to be the same basic pastry crust. Here I made a strawberry
pie with a chocolate crust by just adding a couple tablespoons
of sugar and cocoa powder to the mix.

Don't over mix your crust when you're preparing it.
When you add the oil (i.e. Earth Balance, vegetable shortening etc)
keep it in the form of little pea sized bits. They make pastry knife
do hickeys for exactly that purpose... Dough Blenders... I can't
recommend a specific one because I don't actually own one.
But they come in handy and are very easy to find. And if any
company wants to send me one to endorse, I'm certainly open to
that! The act of adding the oil into in the dry ingredients in the fashion
is called 'cutting'. You 'cut' the margarine into the flour. This ensures
a flakey crust, as the bits of oil will melt upon baking-- it will create
layers in your crust.

Do not knead or over mix your dough. We're not making freaking
bread here folks. If you over mix your dough, it will not be flakey.
Or worse, if you start to get into really mixing it you will activate
the gluten in your flour and it will get chewy and tough.
You can start to see this when you roll out cookies or a pie crust
multiple times.

Keep your surface floured lightly and evenly when rolling out.
The thing that pisses me off the most is when after rolling it out,
the crust sticks to the counter.
After rolling it out, trace the pie pan + an inch with a knife into
the crust. Fold it into quarters and place it that way into the pan.
This makes it easier to move and your crust won't tear.

Are you making a wet pie? If there is a lot of juice in the pie you are
making, like a fruit pie that I just did for Thanksgiving, than it is
important to prebake. Prebaking is simple, so don't look at it
as some sort of daunting task. After prepping your crust, just
throw it in the oven for about 8-10 minutes at 350F. This seals
it a little and prevents later sogginess. Another cool trick is
to brush the crust with soymilk before prebaking. Also try
that five minutes to the end of total baking time on the crust's
edge or top to add a beautiful gloss one would only expect with
egg whites!

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