Pie crusts do not come naturally to me. Long before I can remember, my mother reached the conclusion that her pie crusts turned out badly, and from then on she was resolute in avoiding them. Our Thanksgiving pumpkin pies always had store bought crusts (or even better, we asked that our holiday guests come with dessert in tow). When I was a teenager, a family friend famous for her pastry tried to teach me her method, which I believe involved warm water, but I wasn’t interested enough to attempt it later on my own.
Once I started really cooking in my mid-20s, I made a few pie crusts. Some turned out well; many others stuck to my counter when I rolled them out. Of course I made numerous pies and tarts in culinary school, and once I bought a food processor and KitchenAid mixer for my home kitchen my pastry comfort level moved up a few notches.
This weekend, inspired by an online video at Gourmet.com, I went back to basics and made a crust using only my hands. It was the best I ever made – rich and flaky, yet strong and easy to handle.
I really credit the video. It featured Julie Richardson, co-author of Rustic Fruit Desserts. In six minutes she walks viewers through the pie crust process, from mixing the dry ingredients to working in the butter to laying the pastry in the dish. Best of all, the accompanying recipe yields four crusts! This weekend I made a double-crusted ginger-peach pie (my mouth is watering as I type those words). The filling was sweet and succulent, and the pastry tender and toothsome. On the second night we ate the pie Rosa was so excited she literally got up and did a dance. And I have two crusts waiting in my freezer for an upcoming pie or pies.
Click here to watch the video. I think you have to sign in to the site, but it’s a small inconvenience next to the pie crust wisdom you will receive.