Monday, October 24, 2011

Bride’s Pastry

The late, great advice columnist Ann Landers once published a reader's tip about pastry-making: Do it in the nude, using your entire body to roll it out. No, Dollinks, I did not write that letter and do not use that method - but it certainly is memorable, wot?

Here, at last, is the pastry recipe I promised you Oct. 23, 2011 when I blogged my delicious Macadamia Nut Cream Pie. I normally make pastry using all-vegetable shortening (the healthiest choice). I occasionally and reluctantly use lard, which without a doubt makes the flakiest and best pie crusts. All-butter crusts burn too easily and usually need combining with shortening, so I rarely make them. 

Pie crusts can be fiddly and failure is not uncommon: If you’re new at it, don’t give up! 
Unlike so many other pie crust recipes, this one’s reasonably foolproof. I’ve been making a slightly different version of the recipe below since I was 24 years old, and that’s a long, long time. My former sister-in-law, Katie, passed it to me from her own recipe collection. Although Katie died many years ago, I think of her each time I work this pastry, keeping my memories of her alive. When you share your recipes, you share part of yourselves, Dollinks! 
This particular recipe (slightly superior to Katie’s, I think) comes from the people who make Tenderflake lard. I’ve used the ingredients Tenderflake recommends, but have reduced the amount of water for which their recipe calls and slightly modified their instructions to reflect the method I use. Certain commercial products such as lard (or ketchup, or butter, for example) are made to a basic standard. For that reason, I suspect it doesn’t make much difference which brand of lard you use:
Bride’s Pastry:
5-½ c. all-purpose flour
2 tsp. salt (do not reduce this amount)
1 lb. lard
1 egg
1 tbsp. white vinegar
Cold water, as required
In large bowl, combine flour with salt. Cut lard into ¼-inch cubes, scattering throughout flour. Using a pastry blender (that multi-bladed cutter taking up space in the kitchen drawer), cut in the lard until flour and lard are combined as pea-size pieces (see Note). Break egg into glass measuring cup, combining white and yolk with a fork. Add vinegar and just enough cold water to make ¾ cup of liquid. Stir liquid into flour mixture, quickly combining with hands until mixture clings together to form a ball. Over-mixing toughens pastry, so be quick! 

Divide dough into six portions, wrapping each portion in cello wrap. Chill pastry at least 1 hr. before use, leaving at room temperature 15 min. before rolling out. Roll out crust as photos direct, paying close attention to directions about pricking pie crust and using parchment paper and pie weights. Freeze formed, pricked, weighted crust at least 20 min. before baking. Transfer frozen single-crust pie to preheated oven, proceeding as instructions below direct. 

This pastry freezes well for up to three months. Makes six single-crust or three double-crust 9-inch pies. To make any single or double-crust pie, follow the baking temperature, time, and instructions for the recipe you're preparing. Double- and single-shell pies that are filled before baking do not requires pricking or pie weights. 
Note: It’s important not to work the pastry too much with your fingers. Pie pastry is at its flaky best when it's cold; you don’t want it to absorb too much warmth from your hands.
To Prepare the Pastry for Baked Shell (as used in yesterday's recipe for Macadamia Nut Cream Pie):

Place chilled lump of dough on floured pastry mat
or counter, using lightly floured rolling pin
I roll pastry dough onto a silicone pie mat made by
Tupperware. Roll pastry to the size of the circles
to approximate the size of your pie pan. The circles
also approximate the size of your expanding tummy after
 you've sampled my Macadamia Nut Cream Pie!

Working from the center out,
 roll dough thinly for pies and
slightly thicker for tarts. Take  

care to avoid stretching pastry

When dough is sufficiently thin, pick up one edge and loosely
fold and roll over rolling pin, unfurling to drape over pie pan

Slice overhang of pastry evenly all around

Fold pastry edge over 
itself to strengthen 
and reinforce it

Using thumb of one hand and first two fingers of the second,
crimp reinforced edge of pastry to form high, decorative ridge
Prick pie shell to prevent air bubbles in crust

Trim parchment paper to
fit inside shell 

Pour dried beans or clay pie weights into parchment paper in pie shell - another means of preventing air bubbles in crust. Freeze raw pie shell at least 20 min. Preheat oven to 425 deg. F. Take shell directly from freezer and bake 10 - 12 min. until lightly browned. Remove weights and paper. Cool crust before filling.

Place pie weights on top of parchment circle

Freeze pie shell 20 min.; bake 10 min. at 425 deg. F.
Remove from oven, cooling thoroughly

Fill pie shell

Chill finished pie until ready to serve
Because this pie is so rich, I opted not to pipe the surface with whipping cream rosettes, slightly reducing the calorie count. This is my very favorite pie! I avoid temptation by serving it just once every five years - seriously!

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