Saturday, November 29, 2008

A Pie Crust Epiphany

I'm not an animist but I used to feel that a pie- crust-in-process could sense my trepidation and uncertainty, deliberately cracking around the edges or ripping when I transfered it to the pan, its rebellious behavior being directly proportional to my fear. Thankfully, I made my peace with pie crusts many years ago to the extent that I was able to teach Oldest Daughter to make beautiful pie crusts a couple Thanksgivings ago. This year, Tayta was eager to learn how to mix and roll a pie-crust; helpful soul that she is, she knew that I'd need her baking help this Thanksgiving as Older Daughter would not be home.

I'd used the same flour/shortening/water recipe for years, but this year in an effort to strike all hydrogenated fats from our diet, I decided to try a canola oil based recipe. I didn't think it would be nearly as good as a crust made from shortening, but for the health benefits I was willing to sacrifice a little flakiness. The canola oil crust turned out to be successful beyond my expectations. Not only is it a healthier crust (though I would not go so far as to call anything made from oil and flour healthy) it was delicious, and so easy to make--with the added bonus that rolling it out between waxed paper left no flour mess on my counter. None! I experimented with the first crust, then gave Tayta a short tutorial. With minimal input from me, she produced five more beautiful crusts. Together we fit them to the pie plates then wrapped and froze them. How nice it was, on Thanksgiving Eve to pull the finished crusts out of the freezer all ready for filling!

Canola Oil Pie Crust
(makes two crusts)

3 cups flour
3/4 tsp salt
3/4 cup canola oil
1/2 cup + 2 Tbsp. milk

Mix all ingredients together and form the dough into a ball. Divide dough into two pieces. Place dough between two pieces of waxed paper and flatten, evenly. Roll out dough. (You may have extra dough or you may trim an amount of dough from your crust, depending on how thin you roll your crust. I like to have plenty of dough and hate to skimp when forming the decorative edge of the crust so I begin with a generous recipe.) Peel off one piece of waxed paper and transfer the crust to a pie plate, removing the second piece of waxed paper. Fill and bake.


macmahon7 said...

Well done, you two! Beautiful crusts...I shall have to try your recipe and have my own daughter perfect crusts. We tried a crust with vodka in it and it turned out quite nicely!

desert mom said...

Vodka in the crust? That sounds exotic. Does it give it a particular taste that goes well with a particular filling?

Patti Hobbs said...

That's great, Melissa! I have exactly those same problems and fears. Once when I talked to my grandma about the problems I had she said I just didn't put in enough water. But the recipes are very clear about the dangers of too much water.:-) The last two years, I've bought the pre-made pie crusts that you roll out. I have felt like I was cheating, so I will give your recipes a whirl at Christmas.