When I read that Paula Haney, owner of the celebrated artisanal bakery/restaurant Hoosier Mama Pie Company, was going to be at the Morton Grove Library to speak about making a great pie crust, I had to be there.
Haney is also the author of the darling, retro-looking, extremely helpful and complete The Hoosier Mama Book of Pie. If you want to know more about baking pies, get your mitts on this book.
Like many of you, I was scared to death to make my own pie crust so I figured I'd learn something. I also figured it would also involve free, fabulous tasting pie. I was right on both counts.
Between my husband and I, we got to try Hoosier Mama's Apple Pie and the Chocolate Chess Pie.
Haney says she really understand "pie anxiety." She had made many, many pies over the years before she came up with a recipe she was really happy with. Here are some of her tips for making a great pie crust:
1. A great pie crust starts with simple, basic ingredients, including: unbleached all-purpose flour, sugar, butter and salt.
2. You might use whole wheat flour normally when you bake, but Haney does not recommend it for pie crusts.
3. Haney uses unsalted butter (not shortening) to make her pie crusts. For best results, always make sure the butter is chilled. In her recipe, which you can find in her book, she adds the butter twice.The first time the butter is chilled--from the refrigerator. The second time, the butter is frozen.
4. For a flaky crust, she uses a food processor to make the dough.
5. Haney uses kosher salt, which doesn't have the bitterness of iodized table salt. Because a teaspoon of kosher salt is not the same as a teaspoon of table salt--with it's finer grains, she suggests weighing the salt in her recipe.
6. She adds vinegar to the water to her recipe, which limits the growth of long gluten chains in the dough, which can make it tough and hard to work with. In the pie shop, they use red wine vinegar, but you can use apple cider vinegar or distilled white vinegar. Do not use balsamic vinegar.
7. One of the biggest problems in making a pie crust is overworking the dough. Don't do it.
8. After you knead the dough, let it rest in the refrigerator for a period of time--from 20 minutes to as long as overnight. Be sure to wrap the dough in plastic wrap or a zip lock bag so it doesn't dry out.
9. Spray your pie tin with cooking oil spray and then flour it so the dough doesn't stick to it.
10.The more crimps you put in your pie dough, the rounder your pie will be.
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