Fruit pies are an all time fave, and…well, not to brag, but I can throw one together in about 15 minutes. When the grocery store is over an hour’s drive away, baking from scratch is a better option than a road trip to purchase something packaged in a box.
And, this girl makes her own crust.
If you are a first-time baker, making your own crust is considered leveling up in the pie-making game. Flaky pastry is the mark of a pastry master. And for flaky, you need cold fat globs bubbles (ok, so just go with me on this…my pie-crust/glob theory is big stuff)
In order to make flaky pastry, you need to keep the little globs of fat in the pastry in their little glob-like state. Using butter, vegetable shortening, lard…any of these fats have to retain the shape of small crumbles, the size of a green pea. The flour used in the pastry will coat the globs, which essentially become a crusty bubble. As the pastry bakes, the bubble-like flour coated globs melt, leaving bubbles of air between layers of flour, which gives you a flaky crust. Get it?
Making your pastry into a mushed-up paste is totally wrong. No bubbles, no flaky.
The critical elements for flaky pastry are:
Once you have mastered the above basic pastry techniques, then you can add other tidbits to your pastry, as I did in this recipe that includes red walnuts. You could add chopped pecans, or hazelnuts instead, just cut them into the pastry mix at the last minute.
I know there are recipes for food processor pie crust, and those are ok, as long as the fat you use is super freezing cold and you don’t overwork the pastry. A brief pulse is all it takes to cut the fat into the flour.
But I always make my pastry by hand. I’m too lazy to drag out the food processor, just like I am too lazy to drive an hour to buy a store-made pie.Print
2 cups all-purpose flour
2/3 cup vegetable shortening, cold
2 oz. red walnuts, finely chopped
2-4 tablespoons ice water
2 lbs. fresh pears, peeled and cut into chunks (I used Forelle pears)
¾ cup granulated sugar
Juice of one lemon
1 tsp. ground cardamom
2 tbsp. butter, cut into 4 pieces
Using a pastry stirrup, cut together the flour and vegetable shortening, until the mixture resembles a coarse meal with pea sized crumbles. Mix in the chopped walnuts. Using the pastry stirrup, add the water a little at a time, cutting the dough and adding just enough water to make a cohesive dough. Gather up the pastry into a ball, wrap in plastic wrap or wax paper, and chill in the fridge for one hour.
Meanwhile, you can make the pie filling. Add the pear chunks to a large mixing bowl, and stir in sugar, lemon juice, and ground cardamom.
After an hour, remove the chilled dough from the refrigerator. Heat oven to 375°F/190°C. Divide the dough into halves. On a floured surface (I prefer a pastry cloth sprinkled with flour) roll out one portion of the pastry to a ¼” (.63cm) thickness. Place the pastry sheet in a 9” pie plate or pan. Roll out the remaining pastry in a similar fashion for the top crust, or cut into strips for a lattice top.
Add the pear filling to the pastry lined pie plate, and top with the pieces of butter. Top the filling with the remaining sheet of pastry (or form the lattice top) and crimp pie edges together. Place the pie in the heated oven, and bake for 45-60 minutes. Top crust should be well browned.
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