Wednesday, June 24, 2015

The Best Sweet Pastry

I've been making pies for a while...I'm always looking for the most flavor-packed, scrumptious pastry recipe. If you thought that your pie crust is just a vessel for the filling, think again! That stuff you buy in the frozen food section is truly terrible. It's bland, crumbly and flat. Never buy it.

This recipe, adapted from Jamie Oliver, is the perfect blend of sweet and flaky; it tastes almost like shortbread. This one is actually worth its weight in butter.

-17 oz. flour
-3.5 oz. icing sugar
-9 oz. cold unsalted butter, cubed
-zest of 1 lemon or orange (or a vanilla bean)
-2 large eggs, beaten
-splash of milk
-pinch of salt

Sift together the flour and sugar in a large, wide bowl, or on a wide counter top. Next, sprinkle over the cubes of butter. Using a pastry cutter or two knives, work the butter into the flour mixture until it becomes crumbly, with pea-sized lumps. Don't spend too long on this part, because you don't want the butter to start to melt. Next, add in your eggs, milk, salt and lemon zest, mixing with a fork. When the mixture sticks together when you press two fingers into it, it is ready to wrap up. Use a bit more milk if you need it.

Lay out a few layers of plastic wrap; pour your dough into it, and then wrap the edges around it, pressing the dough into a ball. Flatten the ball slightly, and place the dough in the fridge for about 2 hours.

Once ready to make your pie, preheat the oven to 400F. Take the dough from the fridge and divide it into two sections, one slightly larger (this will be the bottom crust). Put the rest of the dough back into the fridge until you are ready for the top section. Roll out your dough for the bottom, using some flour to prevent sticking. Lay the dough in your pie dish.

Next, take a square of wax or parchment paper and crumple it up in your hands, then spread it out flat again and lay it in your pie dish. Pour in a few cups of dry rice. This will prevent the edges of the crust from sliding into the middle.

Prebake for about 10 minutes with the rice, remove it and the paper, and then bake for another 3-5 minutes.

Continue with your pie filling after that. Brush some milk or egg wash over the top of your pie before baking.