Wednesday, November 24, 2010

"Men may come and men may go.....but Pie goes on for ever."

The pie wars have started.  And ended.

Last night I prepared three different pie crust recipes in order to try them side by side and judge which was best.

First was the original crust recipe that my mother has been using for ages.  It's simple and easy, just flour, salt, water, and shortening.  Only problem is sometimes it's almost too dry, resulting in dough crumbling everywhere while you're trying to roll it out and press it into the pie pan.  This one I baked into a cherry pie.  My mom and I used this neat little cookie cutter things to create a bunch of leaves to cover the top instead of the traditional cover over it.  The filling didn't quite fill it as much as I anticipated, so it looked a little funny, but the leaf top turned out great.

Second was one recipe dubbed as foolproof by Cooks Illustrated.  This one has flour, sugar, salt, butter and shortening, water, and vodka.  The vodka is the secret ingredient that enables the dough to be pliable enough to be easy to roll out and prepare, but then bakes off and leaves a dry, flaky crust.  This one I baked into two pumpkin pies.  Now, this dough is really wet.  Almost too wet.  I had a lot of trouble rolling it out and putting it in the pans.  It might have made a difference if I had chosen to roll out the dough the way most people do, but I follow my mother's method.  I put the dough in a 2.5 gallon ziplock and roll it out in the bag.  With a dough that's less sticky, the bag is easy to cut off it.  This one just stuck to the bag and came all apart in a big doughy mess.  One pie I ended up pressing the dough into the pan, the other I practically froze solid.  Before putting the warm filling in them, I put the crusts in the oven for a blind bake.  When I took them out of the oven and removed the pie weights, I saw that the dough had slid down the sides of the pan and was sticking to the base of my pie.  There was no winning with this dough, so I did my best to press it back up the sides and get it in the oven.  Only one pie turned out pretty looking.


Third is the supposedly Perfect Pie Crust recipe that The Pioneer Woman raved about. This one is comprised of flour, salt, water, vinegar, and an egg.  It took a little more time than the other two and it smelled a little funny because of the vinegar, but it's apparently awesome.  I let this dough chill in the fridge over night and it's a good thing because even after about 3 hours of chilling, it was still soft.  This one ended up sticking to the ziplock bag, but not as much as the previous (this time I floured the bags lightly, so that might have been the reason.  I baked it up into a gorgeous apple pie.  On top of the crust I gave it a nice light egg wash (using the whole egg, beaten with a little water) then topped it with turbinado sugar.  This pie is a contender for the prettiest pie I've ever baked award.  The only picture I got, however, has poor lighting and has the pumpkin pie in the background.

So which pie crust was the best?  Simple, foolproof, or perfect?  The first was the best tasting with the right amount of flake.  This goes to show that if it ain't broke, don't fix it.  Mom's recipe is the best recipe.

And, as a special sign off, here's the lemon tart I made in addition to the pies.  This is a fabulous recipe.  I love tarts.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

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