Pie is one of my favourite desserts. I like all kinds--fruit, custard, cream or frozen--they're all tops in my book. A tender, flaky crust forms the base of any good pie, regardless if it is a complicated baked fruit or custard pie or as simple as an instant pudding poured into a pie shell. The filling is important but if you need an axe or a chain saw to get through the crust to that great filling, the pie would be considered a failure. This Tender Pastry will melt in your mouth. It's full of butter which gives it such a lovely flavour and a little shortening to help with the tenderness.
Some people think a homemade pie crust is beyond their baking abilities but I don't think so. Keep in mind that homemade pastry is sooooo much better than the frozen pie shells you can buy. Pie crust is a matter of mixing the fat through the flour and sticking it together with a little water. There should be sufficient water to keep the dough together but not so much to make the dough sticky. A wet dough will be a tough pastry. Keeping the ingredients cold helps to produce a flaky pastry. It's also important not to overwork the dough to the point of developing the gluten. This will also make your pastry tough and it will shrink badly when baked.
Today I made tart shells from the Tender Pastry. They'll be served with a variety of jam and topped with cream. They're going to a baby shower.
Tender Pastry will give a great start to any pie or tart.
2 cups all-purpose flour*
½ teaspoon salt
⅛ teaspoon sugar, optional
½ cup cold butter
5 tablespoons cold shortening
5-6 tablespoons very cold water
Mix the flour, salt and sugar together. Cut in the cold butter and shortening until the size of peas or a little smaller. Sprinkle the cold water over and gather into a ball. Use only as much water as needed. The dough should stick together but it should not be sticky. Cut the dough into two pieces and form each into a round disk. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill about 30 minutes before rolling out.
You may roll the dough immediately but it should be chilled in the pie plate before baking.
Makes 1 9-inch double crust or 2 9-inch single crusts.
*Use 1½ cups all-purpose flour and ½ cup cake and pastry flour for a super tender crust.
Mix in the water until the dough hold together. Make two balls of dough. You can chill it or roll it out. If you roll it out before chilling, chill the rolled out crust before baking.
Roll the dough out on a well floured surface. Flour the top of the dough as well.
Start at the middle of the dough ball and work out on each side.
Roll out the dough to about one-eighth of an inch thick or a little thicker if you like a sturdier crust. Once the dough is rolled out there are several ways to use it.
The dough can be rolled out into two single pie crusts or used as a double crust for a fruit pie. One ball of dough for the bottom and the other ball of dough for the top.
If you would like a crust for a custard, lemon or cream pie, it can be prebaked or fully baked so the crust will stay nice and flat. Prebaking the crust helps keep the crust crisp when making any kind of custard pie. You can dock (prick it with a fork) the crust but if you want to bake it with a custard filling like a pumpkin pie the filling could seep through the fork holes. Blind baking insures you have a nice flat crust without any bubbling or any fork holes. Line the unbaked pie crust with foil or parchment paper and fill with dry beans or pie weights. Bake at 400 degrees for 5 or 6 minutes. Remove from the oven, remove the beans and return to oven for another 5 minutes. If you would like the pie crust fully baked, bake 10-15 minutes or until golden.
If you would prefer to make small tart shells, cut circles a little larger than your muffin or tart pans. Fit the pastry in the pans. I've docked these shells and baked them to make Newfoundland Jam Tarts. These baked about 15 minutes in a 400 degree oven.
These tart shells will be filled with a choice of jams: Blueberry, Bakeapple (Cloudberry), and Partridgeberry (Lingonberry). Topped with a little cream these tarts are little bites of deliciousness.
To serve the tarts let each of your guests fill their own tart shells with their favourite jam. Top with a little dollop of cream for a wonderful dessert.
Tender, flaky pastry makes each taste melt in your mouth.
Pick your favourite or eat all three!