3.14= Pi. 3/14= Pi Day. This week we celebrated a lesser know holiday called Pi Day. Pi Day requires celebrating with a pie. Really, we are just looking for a way to legitimize our desire to eat pie.
I love pie, but I have a confession, I don’t like pie crust. There are two kinds of people in the world. Ones who love pie crust and those who don’t. I don’t. I have had many a person tell me that I would love their pie crust recipe. I have tried them and guess what, I didn’t. I usually eat the filling out of the pie and leave the naked pie crust behind.
However, one day, my back-door neighbor and good friend, Emily, brought a pie for us to eat. The crust was actually delicious. I actually desired to eat it. I asked her for the recipe and she gave it to me. It comes from her Grandma Lounsbery, who is 96 years-old and lives in Texas. After falling in love with Grandma Lounsbery because of her pie crust, Emily awarded me a mug with my pie-crust-idol’s picture on it. (Which is sort of a really weird gift. Here is a mug with my mug on it. Think of me as you sip your hot cocoa.) I think they had them made for each of her grandchildren and great grandchildren for her birthday (which means Emily has 6 – now 5 – of these badboys eyeballing them at their house).
I have tried lots of pie crust recipes. What sets this one apart is its use of an egg. Maybe that is common, but this is the first recipe I’ve tried that uses an egg. I think the steam from the egg helps to leaven and therefore create more flakiness. The original recipe calls for shortening, but I don’t love the flavor of shortening, because it tastes like shortening. So I like to use a combination of butter and shortening. It’s scientific how I choose. Whatever I’m feeling like or how much butter vs. shortening I have. Basically, whatever you want. It does help to use some shortening however, but you don’t have to.
It is a fairly forgiving recipe. But with all pie crusts, there are a few things that help to maintain its tenderness and flakiness. First, you don’t want the butter/shortening to melt. So you want to use very cold butter and cold water, because anytime you mix it, it will heat up and the fat can start to melt. Next, you want to mix it as little as possible. The more you mix it, the more the gluten proteins develop and gluten is a friend in french bread, but an enemy in pie crust. That is why my edge is a little ragged in the photo above. I stop kneading it when it will just barely hold some sort of shape. Now the pièce dé resistance in creating a flaky crust is the way that you combine the fat and dry ingredients. It needs its own post because it is so awesome! Use this method if you are feeling adventurous, but don’t worry if you are just too tired and frazzled to try. Just do it the old school way.
This recipe has a really high fat to flour ratio, which means it is prone to shrinkage, especially if you use more butter than shortening. This is because butter melts at a lower temperature than shortening. So when shaping it, I give it more overhang than seems reasonable. I almost hook the edge over the lip of the pie dish. If I’m blind baking it, or baking it without the filling, then I pop it in the freezer for about 15 minutes, to let the fat solidify again. This will help it hold it’s shape in the oven. You can use pie weights or dry beans to keep it from poofing up in the middle. But, most of the time, I’m just too dang lazy. If it does shrink or poof in the middle, just remember that sometimes tasty pie crusts are not the MOST beautiful ones. Just like people. Wait, I’m not sure I should have made that analogy. Please don’t go tasting people, it’s called cannibalism and it is wrong. Any even if you just give them a lick, you might get punched.
On that note, here is the recipe. Enjoy!
Recipe Source: Grandma Lounsbery