I’ve been getting a lot of letters from my readers asking why I didn’t include Aunt Polly’s secret pie-crust recipe in the book, PIE. The truth is… I was afraid to! People are VERY particular about the kind of piecrust they like. I didn’t want to disappoint anyone by including a recipe that wouldn’t live up to their expectations. So I decided to let my readers imagine Polly’s piecrust exactly the way they would want it to taste. I must also gently point out that PIE is a work of fiction, which means that Aunt Polly and her piecrust are also fictional. But the letters keep pouring in so I’ve decided to start collecting non-fiction pie-crust recipes, and posting them here. If you have a favorite recipe you’d like to share with the world, please send it to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 tsp salt
¾ plus 2 TBS Crisco, cold
5 TBS ice-cold water
½ cup heavy cream*
In a medium bowl, mix together the flour and salt. Add the Crisco to the flour mixture. Either with a pastry blender or with your fingertips, mix the ingredients together with an up-and-down chopping motion until the dough forms course, pea-size crumbs. Note: I prefer the old-fashioned finger option, but take care not to overhandle the dough, because it will become difficult to work with –when dough is overhandled, the Crisco becomes too incorporated. In the perfect pie, the Crisco will have a marbleized look, and you will actually be able to see Crisco swirls within the uncooked dough.
Add the ice cold water, 1 tablespoon at a time, delicately incorporating each tablespoon into the flour mixture before you add the next. You may have to use 1 more or 1 less tablespoon of water than the amount recommended, depending upon the humidity in your kitchen at the time of baking. You will know you have added just the right amount of water when the dough forms a ball that easily holds together.
Wrap the ball of dough with plastic and place it in the refrigerator to chill for at least 30 minutes.
*( If you are using a top crust and want it to be nice and golden brown, Michele suggests that you brush it with heavy cream before baking.)
(**I had the pleasure of doing a presentation with Michele at the Westport Library recently. She really knows her pie! Check out her website: http://www.michelespies.com and for more great recipes and a detailed description of how to roll out a piecrust look for her book: PERFECT PIES published by Ballantine Books.)