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BASICS OF COOKING LESSON #5

MAKING PIE CRUST

There are some rules to pastry making - and some I break constantly. For instance, most pie crust recipes use the cold water method. But in an old cookbook I found a recipe for a hot water pastry that is very easy and really foolproof. And I have a recipe for a pie crust that uses oil instead of solid shortening, and another that uses cream cheese.

Here's the recipe for the famous Hot Water Pastry with very detailed instructions.

HOT WATER PASTRY

1 cup minus 2 Tbsp. shortening
1/4 cup hot water
1 Tbsp. milk
2-1/4 cups all purpose flour
1/2 tsp. salt

Place shortening in large bowl. Pour hot water and milk over the shortening. With a dinner fork, break up the shortening into smaller pieces. Tilt bowl and beat quickly until the mixture looks like whipped cream. This will take 3-5 minutes of constant beating. Mix together flour and salt, add to the shortening mixture and mix well with the fork until the dough forms a ball that cleans the bowl. Divide into two parts.

Tear off two square sheets of waxed paper. Lightly moisten the countertop and place on sheet of paper on it. Place one dough ball on the waxed paper and cover it with the other sheet. Using a rolling pin, press on the dough, rolling it from the center out to the edges. Keep rolling until the pastry is larger than an upside down pie pan. Be careful to keep the dough as even as you can. Then peel off the top paper. Use the bottom sheet of paper to flip the dough into the pie pan. Carefully peel off the second sheet of waxed paper, holding the paper close to the pastry so you don't tear it. Then ease the pastry into the pan, pushing down to the bottom and sides of the pan. Fill the crust, then repeat the procedure with the top crust. Seal the edges by folding the top crust under the bottom one at the edge, then press to seal and flute.

For a single crust pie, use 1/2 cup minus 1 Tbsp. shortening, 2 Tbsp. hot water, 1-1/2 tsp. milk, 1-1/8 cups flour and 1/4 tsp. salt.

Here's a traditional recipe with very detailed instructions.

All ingredients should really be ice cold. It doesn't matter if you use lard, solid vegetable shortening, or butter - just follow your taste. (Incidentally, did you know scientists have discovered that lard isn't as bad for you as once thought?) Keep a few ice cubes in the water you sprinkle over the pastry. Have patience while you cut the shortening in to the dry ingredients. It will all come together. And don't handle it too much. Working the dough causes gluten to form - that flour protein that is so desirable in bread, but makes pastries tough.

Follow the recipe carefully. Spoon the flour lightly into the measuring cup - don't scoop it out with the measuring cup, and don't pack it. Cut in means to work the shortening into the dry ingredients by pulling two knives or a pastry blender across the shortening in different directions, breaking it up into smaller and smaller pieces. As you sprinkle the cold water over the shortening-flour mixture, toss quickly and lightly with a fork, until the particles stick together when gently pressed. Then gather up the pieces of dough and form into a ball, wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate. After about an hour, roll out using the waxed paper method described in the Hot Water Pastry recipe, or the traditional flour and stockinette rolling method described in the Traditional Pie Crust recipe on the next page.

NEXT PAGE: Traditional Recipe

Linda

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Busy Cooks Basics of Cooking Lesson Series

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