Pie Dough for the Less Inclined

Since pies are what’s buzzin right now, it being the holidays and all, I’ve been thinking much about them, particularly their dough/crust. Not much of a pie aficionado myself, I just buy pie crust on the occasion when I bake one, usually for Adam Linder, singer/songwriter/guitarist for the indie-punk band, Sister City.

The general consensus is obviously that homemade trumps store-bought pretty hard though, so heck, this time I went for it.

When my gorgeous test pie came out of the oven, I broke off a piece of the crust and WOW, it was just WOW. Pictured below is leftover dough I baked (though rolled about twice as thick as for a pie) with its PLENTIFUL layers, at once crispy and soft. The “light” and “flaky” raves people have about pie crust finally came true. I no longer had to pretend I understood like when you pretend that you think Mozart’s a genius too, even though in your head you’re like “???”

HOWEVER…

…halfway through my slice of pie I found myself forgetting the crust was special altogether, and my brain was just like “oh, apple pie, whatever…”

Because really, when is butter going to shine as a flavor when there’s almost ANY other flavor going on? That’s just what I feel. Indifferent to pies, even more indifferent to their crusts. Sad, I know… With these results in mind, I felt I should advise others who are also not yet on the tippity top of their pie game:

Pie AND baking aficionados: You probably have several disks of homemade dough sitting in your freezer right now and have an opinion on the shortening vs. butter debate, depicted in an easy-to-follow fashion here by The Pioneer Woman.

Pie aficionados who usually buy their pie but want to bake it this time**: If you make your own dough, you will be amazed at how good the whole picture of your pie comes out. If not, odds are, you’ll still be pretty satisfied and feel accomplished because you thought you couldn’t bake anything, but actually you could!

Occasional bakers who don’t care that much about pie: This is probably not worth your effort as you will make additional mess and dishes and, like me, not notice after awhile that your crust is special.

Baking aficionados who don’t care that much about pie**: Your call. Depends on how much time you have and what occasion the pie is for. Try it once, see how wowed or un-wowed you are and take it from there.

People who don’t care about pie or baking: I hope you still have some concern for your fellow man and at least bring Cape Cod chips to food occasions and not freakin Lays.

**Don’t let the seeming difficulty of making pie dough scare you off. 

Instead of going through the process with you and telling you “oh, it’s so easy!,” I give you this video from Big Girls, Small Kitchen where you can witness its ease with your own two eyes. They use a food processor for the classic crust, which is basically instant, but without one it’s not more difficult, just slightly more time-consuming. Until recently, I too felt that pie dough was some sort of mystical step above cookie or cake baking for some reason. Silly fears always slowing us down!!

My one additional helpful hint, you should be able to see the little flecks of butter in the dough, which will melt in the OVEN, not on your hands, to make it flaky and what not. So as I learned on The Kitchn, if you’re mixing with your hands and they start to get shiny/oily, the dough is too warm. Put it back in the refrigerator or freezer for a few minutes before continuing.  What an easy way to tell!

Buttery, flaky pie dough recipe from The Kitchn inspired by Magnolia Bakery.

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About Jen Cantin

Follow Jen Cantin on Twitter if you have nothing better to do! Wouldn’t want to impose… Two cats and three times more ‘tude than the leading car insurance provider.
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