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Jul 25, 2013 04:58 PM

Piecrust redux

I was boasting of my piecrust in another thread. Pride goeth before a fall. The latest apple pie (the first pie I had baked in months) flirted with disaster. I used the Bittman piecrust recipe rather than the Joy of Cooking. I thought it was too much butter, but was willing to give it a try. The pie crust came together almost instantly, after perhaps two tablespoons of liquid (a tablespoon of tequila and perhaps a tablespoon from a dripping kitchen faucet), and was too soft to roll out easily. It disintegrated when I tried to transfer it to the pie plate. I ended up patting the bottom crust into place and dropping slabs of crust on top of the apple filling.

The Bittman recipe calls for making the pie crust in a food processor, which I do not have. I did my usual slow crumbling of the butter by hand, until I had a cornmeal-textured blend. I think that must have softened the butter more than it would have softened when cut up by processor blades. The Joy of Cooking recipe, which has a higher flour to butter ratio, works better for hand processing. It's not as buttery, but it is, as I remember, flakier.

The actual pie, while not photogenic, was delicious, The crust was crisp and buttery. Next time, however, I'm going to use the old tried-and-true Joy of Cooking recipe, which works for the tools that I have. Less difficult to roll out and assemble.

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  1. Did you refrigerated the dough before rolling it out? What were the proportions of butter to flour?

    2 Replies
    1. re: roxlet

      When I used the JoC recipe, I never refrigerated the pie crust. It was just put it together fast, roll it out, pie!

      Of course, I was starting with cold butter and flour that had been stored in the freezer.

      1. re: roxlet

        Oh, butter to flour. Bittman, 2 cups, 4 tablespoons flour to 1 cup butter. JoC, 2 cups flour to 2/3 cup butter. A lot less butter.

      2. Melted Butter & Oil Pie Crust

        Here's a recipe that was mentioned on the King Arthur Flour forum as being easy and good tasting. I want to try this one soon.

        1. Don't use your hands, you can get a pastry cutter for $5 or so. Or you can use two butter knives. Your hands will warm up the butter too much. If the kitchen is too warm, I will stick the bowl into the fridge before the dough is pea sized just to firm it back up. Keeping the butter cold in summer can be tricky.

          1 Reply
          1. re: Pookipichu

            I probably should get a pastry cutter. Hands have worked in the past, but it's HOT here in Honolulu of late.

          2. Freeze the butter. Using the large holes of a box grater, grate it into the flour and toss with a fork or a pastry cutter until well-coated before adding liquid.

            1 Reply
            1. Anyway, it takes a grandiose helping of hubris to claim that you can instruct (anyone) on "How To Cook Everything"; maybe it's just a screwed-up recipe.

              1 Reply
              1. re: pmarie1

                There are a great many Bittman recipes that I find just MEH. I have always chalked that up to differing tastes. The one cookbook author who always pleases me is Madhur Jaffrey.