Blogs > Cooking from Scratch

Chef Stacy believes that cooking from scratch and using the best ingredients are the secrets to preparing delicious and memorable meals. She has created dozens of classes for the home chef and teaches students how to master culinary techniques and recipes in just one session. Read on to see what she's dishing up for The Oakland Press today....

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Celebrate Summer with a Blue Ribbon Pie

With the 4th just around the corner, you may be considering the perfect dessert for your holiday picnic. Everyone loves a homemade cherry, apple or banana cream pie. If you think that perfect pastry is out of your reach, it's not! Follow the tips below and you'll be wondering why you haven't tried making your own pie crust before!

Pie Crust – A Crash Course
There are several things to keep in mind when you set out to create a flakey, delicious, and simple pie. One of the most intimidating undertakings for even a very accomplished baker, pies do not need to be so complicated. Learn a few simple tricks, develop your technique, and you will turn out perfect pies every time.

The Ingredients
Flour – Choose pastry flour when making pie dough. It has the appropriate amount of gluten to ensure the proper texture.

Fat – Lard, shortening, and butter are the best choices when making pie dough. Most bakers like to use a combination of butter and shortening/lard because butter lends a delicious flavor and texture, but shortening/lard shrinks less. If all butter is to be used, then you should add 25% more butter. For instance, if a recipe calls for 1# of shortening, use 1.25# butter.

Liquid- water is necessary to develop some of the gluten in the flour, and to give structure and flakiness to the dough. If too much water is added, the dough will become tough. If too little water is added, the dough will fall apart.

Salt – Salt has some tenderizing and conditioning properties. Dissolve salt in the water to ensure even distribution.

All ingredients should be ice cold, it is even beneficial to put the mixing bowl in the freezer until you are ready to start working.

Tools Commonly Used in Pie & Tart Production–
Inexpensive bench brush (buy at a hardware store, use only in kitchen)
Pastry brush
Bench Scraper, metal
Aluminum pie pans
Kitchen Shears, for pastry use only
Rolling pin
Saran wrap
Tart pans
Half sheet pans

Combination Pastry
1lb. 9 oz pastry flour
2 tsp. Kosher salt
1 lb. chilled unsalted butter
5 oz. shortening
2/3 c. ice water

The Pastry Method:
Scale all ingredients accurately
Sift dry ingredients into a mixing bowl
Cut in the shortening until fat is visible but in small chunks – DO NOT OVER-MIX THE FAT!
Combine liquid ingredients
Add liquid to dry, do not over-mix
Bring the dough to the bench and knead lightly and roll into a log. Wrap with saran. Chill.

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