There are two classes on our calendar that stir up a lot of emotion in students. Cake decorating is a delicious alternative to the Myers Briggs test, but pie classes take the cake. Out of 12 students, we’ll find that half the class comes in with no prior pie experience and a deep fear of failure. Another quarter of the class has tried and failed a thousand times and the last 3 or 4 have never stepped in a kitchen. Who do you think fares best? The ones who have logged exactly zero kitchen time.
Making pie dough is deceptively easy, but finding the balance between controlled chaos (flakiness) and uniformity without overworking the dough takes either naivety or letting go of all the garbage you’ve heard and in the pages and pages of cookbooks on the subject and blog posts as long as the Sunday Times. Evan, myself and the dozens of professional pie bakers in L.A. have one thing to share with you: LET IT GO. Pie doughs should be rough and not uniform, marbled as well as a good steak and as cold as you can keep it.
I’ll let Evan Kleiman, our city’s Pie Queen, leave you with her Top 5 Pie Tips.1. Do not fear the dough. You are its master!2. When butter starts to break down take a break and refrigerate the dough, even for 10 minutes.3. If you need a bit more liquid, at the beginning of your journey add up to 2 oz of vodka.4. BAKE that pie. A pallid crust is an underbaked crust.5. Practice makes Delicious. Don’t strive for perfection, just keep baking.
EVAN’S 3-2-1 PIE CRUST
Evan’s 3-2-1 Pie Crust Recipe
|12 ounces (about 2-3/4 cups)||All purpose flour|
|8 ounces||Fat (butter, lard, shortening or combo)|
|4-5 ounces ice cold water (about 1/2 to 2/3 cup)||Ice cold water|
- Mix the dry ingredients together in a large bowl. Cut the fat into tablespoon sized pieces and add them to the flour mixture. Toss the butter and lard lumps around until they are coated with flour. Use a pastry cutter or your fingers to mix the fats and flour together until you have a mixture with uneven crumbles, some as big a an almond and some as small as peas. Add the water and mix until the mass comes together. Don’t worry if it’s a little shaggy. It’s all right as long as it sticks together.
- Dump the mixture out onto your work surface. Use a bench scraper to gather the crumbs into the mass of dough. Use the heel of your hand to smear the dough away from you a third at a time. You are creating flat layers of flour and butter. After the dough is smeared out gather it back together with the bench scraper, using the scraper to layer the smears on top of each other, creating a mass of dough. Do it again. The dough should come together nicely, but you should still see pieces of butter.
- Divide the dough in half and form into flat discs. Wrap each in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least an hour and as long as two days. You may also freeze the dough.