Cabin fever is running rampant through my soul, as the melting snow reveals the bleak brown mud and not-yet-green grass outside everywhere I look. Bleak. I keep turning my thoughts to the lake, and how I can’t wait for the weather to turn warm, to see green and sunshine, and to pick black raspberries. I reached for a cookbook, trying to figure out something exciting to make for dinner, and the book just opened up to the pie crust page… so I took this as a sign, an all-American as Apple Pie sign, and I followed through. I will share with you here the recipe for a foolproof, flaky, butter pie crust, that doesn’t even need those tablespoons of ice water.
I made 6 pie shells in advance today, and froze them. I know, it’s so convenient and easy to just buy those ready-made pie crust shells, and just keep them in your freezer. But the list of ingredients is horrible. To entice me, and maybe you, to make your own pie shells, this recipe here uses less fat than most pie crusts, and incorporates oats and or nuts to give the crust a nuttier flavor, while boosting the nutrition. Here’s a close-up of the crust… you can see the flakes or oats, that will taste heavenly once they undergo that baking in the oven.
Meanwhile, the boys punctured the silence that comes along with baking with their acts of wrestling and screams of “He took my lego,” when there are exactly 1,529 other pieces exactly like that one in the tub. (I’ve picked them up enough times to know.) I’d like to add something here. If you have never raised little boys, you may be under the mistaken impression that I never see them all day. You may envision them outside, braving the elements in all kinds of weather, just to quench that male-driven desire to explore and conquer. The truth is, rarely… I mean rarely, are they outside. For some reason, they prefer to stay inside, always within earshot, as they build their skyscrapers, their trains, sneak crackers out of the cupboard, all the while leaving amazingly huge messes.
They pop by just long enough for a scoop and a pour.
I love their little hands. It would be nice if they played outside, though, once in awhile.
Meanwhile, as it is President’s Day after all, I did my Patriotic duty and tried to stay focused on the task at hand.
Here’s the recipe for one low-fat, foolproof 9″ pie shell:
- 1/3 cup rolled oats (not the instant kind) or almonds or pistachios or walnuts
- 3/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut in slices.
- 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar — I learned this from Aunt Joyce. (This keeps the crust flaky and light, and no you can’t taste it. Technically, it keeps the gluten from forming in the dough, which would make the pie crust chewy.)
- 3 tablespoons sour cream (Low fat is fine.)
If you want to quadruple this recipe, which I highly recommend to save yourself some time, just multiply all the quantities times four. Today, I multiplied everything by 5, and ended up with six shells. (Might have had something to do with all the distractions I had today with the Legos?)
- Grind the oats or nuts in a food processor for about 30 seconds until they form a fine coarse grain, 30-45 seconds.
- You can continue to use the food processor here, and add the flour, baking powder and salt. Or mix these ingredients into a bowl.
- Add the butter slices. If you’re using the food processor, add the butter slices all at once. If you’re doing this by hand, add the butter into the dry ingredients a bit at a time, and work the mixture with your fingers until it is a coarse meal.
- Sprinkle in the vinegar, then add the sour cream all at once into the food processor. If you’re working by hand, only add a tablespoon of the sour cream at a time.
- Knead the dough on a floured surface, preferably on waxed paper a couple of times.
- Set the ball in the refrigerator for 15-30 minutes.
Now the fun part, the rolling:
- If you have doubled or tripled the dough, divide the dough into the appropriate quantities and pull out enough for one pie shell.
- I used two sheets of waxed paper to make the dough wide enough to fit into my 9″ pie shell. I smeared a bit of olive oil on the sheets and my rolling pin to keep the dough from sticking.
- Once I had the disc in the right shape, I laid a fresh waxed paper sheet into the pie pan, smeared on a little olive oil and carefully laid this disc on the waxed paper, letting the dough take on the shape of the pie shell.
- I continued the steps, pulling a new ball of dough out until I had the six, with waxed paper layered between each shell. The whole time I was thinking about how to make sure I had enough left-over dough to make pinwheels. Whenever my Mom baked a pie, she would cut off the leftover dough around the edges, and make pinwheels. She’d slather the dough with butter, cover in cinnamon and sugar and roll the whole pastry piece up into a roll, about 1 inch around. Then she’d slice them and bake them in a pie shell.
- Once I had rolled out each disc, and layered them in the pie shell, they are ready for the freezer. Tonight, once they are firmly frozen, I will CAREFULLY, as they are fragile, remove the pie shell from underneath, and place the entire stack into a large freezer bag. They will keep for three months.
As we still have black raspberries in the freezer, I made a black raspberry pie tonight for dinner. My favorite way to do the crust is to fold the crust over the top, so the pie is in almost its own little pouch. However, this leaves no dough leftover for pinwheels. On second thought, Mom only had two kids fighting over pinwheels, and maybe scraps of dough was all she needed. I guess I’ll have to devote an entire pie shell to pinwheels.
In honor of your country today, make yourself some pie.