Friday, October 29, 2004

piece of pie...errr...cake

That was a great line from 2010, the sequel to Kubrick's 2001:A Space Odessey. By some random occurrence, I actually saw a scene from 2010 being filmed at Leo Carrillo State Beach north of Malibu. It was the scene when Roy Scheider is biking down the asphalt hill in the tricycle-bike. I was camping at the beach with my mom & brother when I saw that scene being filmed.
Anyway, saw an episode of "Good Eats" with Alton Brown (episode entitled "I Pie") that got me thinking about baking pie, which I haven't done in years. I used to really enjoy baking pies, and I have made peach, cherry, apple and lemon meringue. I liked making pies mostly because my mom never really baked sweets, much less pies, and I love pie! I remember reading recipes from an old Better Homes and Gardens cookbook from the 1960's. The crusts always turned out mealy and never flaky, but now I think I know why (I was using butter!) So here are some "crusty" notes I scribbled while watching the episode earlier this week.

  • "Blind baking" a crust means to bake it without filling, then add filling later. This is typically done for meringue pies.
  • Alton recommends all-purpose flour, and not bread flour, unless you want a chewy dough, because bread flours typically have a higher gluten content.
  • Using butter as the "fat" in pastry dough will make your crust more "crumby", not flakey, but will aid in browning
  • Using lard will yield flaky crust because of its high melting point.
  • Using a combination of butter & lard, you get the best of both worlds
  • Before starting, put butter and lard in the freezer for 15 minutes. You need to work with cold fats.

Here's the entire recipe:

  • 3 ounces (6 tablespoons) butter, chilled
  • 1 ounce (2 tablespoons) lard, chilled
  • 6 ounces (approximately 1 cup) all-purpose flour, plus extra for rolling dough
  • 1/2 teaspoon table salt
  • 1/4 cup ice water, in spritz bottle
  • Approximately 32 ounces of dried beans, for blind baking

Place butter and lard in freezer for 15 minutes. When ready to use, remove and cut both into small pieces.

In the bowl of a food processor, combine flour and salt by pulsing 3 to 4 times. Add butter and pulse 5 to 6 times until texture looks mealy. Add lard and pulse another 3 to 4 times. Remove lid of food processor and spritz surface of mixture thoroughly with water. Replace lid and pulse 5 times. Add more water and pulse again until mixture holds together when squeezed. Place mixture in large zip-top bag, squeeze together until it forms a ball, and then press into a rounded disk and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.

Place 2 metal pie pans in the refrigerator to chill.

Remove dough from refrigerator. Cut along 2 sides of the plastic bag, open bag to expose dough, and sprinkle both sides with flour. Cover again with plastic and roll out with a rolling pin to a 10 to 11-inch circle. Open plastic again and sprinkle top of dough with flour. Remove pie pans from refrigerator and set first pan on top of dough. Turn everything upside down and peel plastic from bottom of dough. Place second pan upside down on top of dough and flip again. Remove first pan from atop dough. Trim edges if necessary, leaving an edge for meringue to adhere to. Poke holes in dough and place in refrigerator for 15 minutes.

Place a large piece of parchment paper on top of dough and fill with dry beans. Press beans into edges of dough and bake in the oven for 10 minutes. Remove parchment and beans and continue baking until golden in color, approximately 10 to 15 minutes longer. Remove from oven and place on cooling rack. Let cool completely before filling.

Enough for tonight, pie-pie! :)

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