What are some hints for home bakers feeling demoralized by trying to perfect pie crust?
Good flour, a pinch of salt, cold butter, ice water. Cut the butter in quickly leaving pea sized chunks, add a little water, and press the dough into a ball and flatten it. Here's the best hint: wrap the flattened ball in plastic film and let it REST in the refrigerator for at least an hour, or overnight. I always make my pie dough the night before. It rolls out better after resting, and saves time when making pie the day of the feast.
When you are at the step where you need to add a tablespoon or so of cold water - use VODKA instead. It moistens the dough, but does not interact with the flour in the same way, so you crust stays flaky and does not get tough. If your pie is STILL a disaster- well, you know where you put the rest of the vodka bottle, right?
Just a tiny amount of vinegar (under 2 tsp) helps make the dough more workable and gives great flavor. Sounds weird, but it really works well.
There are two things that you must do if you want to achieve a great crust. One is to add just enough ice water to you butter/flour mixture and the other is to make sure the butter doesn't get warm and you end up with a dough like chewing gum. By the way, this is where lard is superior to butter; it doesn't melt as quickly and gives you a flakier crust. I've found if you use a pastry blender to cut in your butter, keep everything cold, and put your flour/ shortening mixture in a food processor, and then, with the processor running, SLOWLY add ice water until the dough just starts to clump together, you're half way there. Remove the dough from your processor and place it on your work space and gently shape it into a ball. Flatten the ball into a disk ~ 6 inches in diameter, wrap it in plastic- wrap and place it in your fridge for ~ an hour. This fridge bit is to insure that the butter or lard doesn't melt and combine with the flour to make what I referred to as chewing gum. Okay, place your rolling pin in the freezer and when your dough is cold, roll it out to the proper diameter to overhang your pie dish ~ an inch. This is tough. One trick is to use flour as a lubricant. Keep your work surface lightly floured and when it's ready to place in the dish, flour the top surface, using a broad flat metal spatula, flip half of the circle of dough onto the other half to form a half moon shape. Place some flour on your work surface and, again with your spatula, slide it under the half moon so you can lift the dough off of the work surface and place it in your pie dish. Unfold the half moon and complete the shell. If you screw up, as I still do sometimes, you can take the chewing gum and turn it into brioche. Depending on how much crust you're making, I add two eggs and some yeast to the chewing gum which makes it really moist and very difficult to work with. Using your hands or a wooden spatula you can mix the mass of dough to incorporate the yeast and eggs and then place the mess in the fridge to firm up so you can kneed it and form a brioche loaf. Place it in a loaf pan and let it rise to twice its volume and bake at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes. It really makes delicious brioche. Anyway, don't give up! You can do it. It just takes practice. Just don't let your shortening melt or handle the dough too much (which also makes the shortening melt).
let me taste if and when possible. lol
give up and stick to cobblers?
Don't torcher yourself and others try box cake baking instead.
I learned that I CANNOT make a roll-out pie crust as I play with it too much~~I keep rolling and rolling with the pin, making it dry and cracky before I even get it into the pie plate. I've even tried oil crusts, with the same results. What I do is simply mix the ingredients and press the crust into the plate. It doesn't look as good as Ma's~~no fluted edges~~but it does the trick. I also like DOUBLE pie crust on all my crusty recipes. Crust on top and bottom. Also, I like a pre-baked crust. I put my bottom crust in for like 5 minutes before putting the filling in and, basically, sprinkling the top crust on.
Demoralize yourself. Then demoralize another by making him SERVE the pie to you. That should help you fell much better. (Or just be patient and start over with your kitchen counter perfectly set up with all your tools and ingredients as on a cooking show. If you still feel defeated then take a long bath and relax before you do anything else.)
Pie crusts are too much work. The refrigerated pie crusts near the tubes of raw dinner rolls in the super market are very good and very easy. Not the frozen pie crusts. BTW, in my experience the off brand ones are just as good as the brand names.
I have always found that the key to making a fancy pie crust is to take your time. Follow the directions, fold the pie up carefully once it's rolled out, and gently place your pie crust into your baking dish. If it breaks don't beat yourself up over it. Just repair the crust. All of it will be hidden once you place your pie-filling. Another option is to buy your own pie crust. There are many choices, though I tend to buy Pillsbury's unfoldable crusts since they allow you to put the crust in your own bakeware to give that personal touch. They aren't as tasty as a good homemade pie crust, but they are a good starting point.
A few shots of Jack Daniels and you won't feel demoralized anymore.
Avoid butter in the dough. Pie dough must be kept cold but cold butter is hard and unmalleable. Use lard or oil.