Thursday, June 2, 2011

Pie--Step-by-Step Crust and a Rhubarb Filling

We have a lot of chances to make pie.  Take one!
 As I write online articles for (St. Paul Entertainment--Food and Drink), I am often working on dishes, meals, or recipes for foods that are in season or are being featured at farmer's market.  The past couple of weeks, rhubarb has played a large role in my market shopping and I wrote up the recipe for a rhubarb pie for them this week.  As I worked on the recipe (and it was no work to eat the pie, you'll see), I kept Dinner Place readers in mind and took lots of pictures of making the crust and putting the pie together.
Rhubarb--Perfect spring vegetable, but dispose of leaves safely, they're full of oxalic acid and are poisonous.

For whatever reason, many perfectly good cooks shy away from baking  pie.  Maybe they're not bakers.  Or they tried it once and it was a mess (and so was my first pie) or they tried it twice and had to throw away a crust (so does every pie baker, no matter how experienced), etc.  I have a method (and an alternate) that I'm sold on and hope you'll try.  You will be the hit of your group of friends even if the pie crust has some lumps or pieces missing...people just love pie and will love you for making it.  Soon, you'll be a champion pie baker (maybe), but your pies will get eaten all the way up that learning curve.

As a solo cook, a pie is a challenge.  You'll either eat a piece every day or two (storing the remainder in the refrigerator) or you'll make pie when you have a reason to take something to someone's house or to a potluck.  There are individual pies and, if you have tiny pie plates (the kind children bake with) or ovensafe bowls (perfect for pie for one) or even ovensafe mugs, you can make pie just for you.

This pie crust is made in the food processor. If you'd like to make a crust by hand, watch this.
Coming home in my basket

  Here's the process in photographs.  My crust is made in the Cuisinart Food Processor.
Flour, salt, sugar, and butter mixed until combined until pea-sized and smaller pieces.

Iced water added. Processed until just coming together.

Meantime, chop the rhubarb into about 1/2" pieces.

Take dough out of bowl, divide in half.  Put half in frig and press other half between 2 sheets of waxed paper.

Roll out from center until more than big enough for pie plate. Put plate upside down on crust to measure.

Flip dough over and roll quickly-once!-with rolling pin to release dough from waxed paper.

Gently peel that side's paper off.

Turn dough over onto pie plate and carefully pull the other sheet of paper off.

Gently press dough down into pie plate as evenly as possible.   Edges should hang over.

Alternate method:  Dust counter, dough and pin well with flour and roll your dough out from the center.

Into the pan and crimp edges.

Fill with rhubarb mixture and dot with butter.  The butter and the flour in the rhubarb will create the thickener.

Take that top crust and loosely roll it around your rolling pin.

Lift it on to  the pie, being careful of placement so you don't have to do it twice.

There, it's on and covered and just needs trimming.

Trim evenly with sharp knife or scissors. (I like to make pie crust cookies out of extra dough.)

Seal or crimp edges quickly; don't over work dough.

I like to make a pretty edge. You can press it down with the tines of a fork, too.  Or leave it simply crimped--pinched together.

Make slits in top crust for steam to vent.  I like designs!

Place on a rimmed sheet in case of boil overs.

It's done when it's browned and bubbling through slits. Glass pie plates help you see if it's done.

So close and yet so far away.  This must cool nearly completely or you'll cut it and have a sea of filling all over.

I love pie.  A little ice cream wouldn't hurt.

Rhubarb Pie makes 1 9" pie   serves 6
2 2/3 c all-purpose flour
2t salt (I like sea salt)
2T sugar
3/4 c unsalted, cold butter, cut into pieces (1 1/2 sticks)
1/2 c iced water

5 c rhubarb, cleaned well and chopped into 1/2" pieces
3/4 c white sugar
1/4 c all purpose flour
Dash salt
2T cold, unsalted butter, cut into small dice

Making filling:  In a large bowl, mix together all except butter. You'll use the butter after you spoon the filling into the bottom crust in a little while.   Set bowl aside for now.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit

Making Crust, Filling it, and Baking the Pie
  1. Into food processor bowl, measure flour, salt, sugar and butter.  Pulse several times briefly until mixture appears sandy with tiny, pea-sized pebbles.  (Some will be smaller, some larger)  
  2. Through tube, with machine running,  pour the iced water slowly into flour mixture.  Continue processing for until dough begins to come together.  Remove dough from processor bowl and gently pull together into a ball with floured hands.  Divide dough in half and refrigerate one half. (Many people refrigerate all of their crust before rolling. Try it and see what you think.)
  3. Dampen a cleared counter.  Take the other half  of the dough and place between two large sheets of waxed paper.  Place on damp counter.  Using a rolling pin, roll the dough out from the center (radius) to the edge (perimeter), going around the circle of the dough clockwise until dough looks large enough to fill the pie plate.  Place the plate, upside down, on the dough to see if you have rolled it large enough.  If not, roll a bit more and remeasure. 
  4. When the dough is big enough for the pie plate, either fold it gently into fourths and carefully move it to pie plate and unfold or roll the dough loosely onto the rolling pin and unroll onto the pie plate.
  5. Fill pie with rhubarb filling and dot evenly with diced butter.
  6. Remove other pie crust from the frig, roll as above, and place on top of the pie using one of the methods described in #4.  Trim edges using either a small sharp knife or kitchen scissors so that you have about an inch hanging as evenly as possible.  Crimp edges to seal.
  7. Decorate edges, if desired, pressing index finger at an angle and twisting down gently to form grooves in the edges of the crust.  (Pressing down with fork tines works just as well.)  Here's a link to info about edges.
  8. Place pie on a rimmed baking sheet and put sheet in oven.  Bake 15 minutes.  Reduce heat to 350 and bake about 45 minutes more until browned and bubbling.  Remove from oven, and, lifting from the baking sheet, cool on rack.
  9. Cool completely before cutting.  Store at room temperature a day or two, well covered.  For longer storage, refrigerate.  If you'd like to freeze it, I recommend freezing fresh rhubarb instead.  You can just clean it, cut it, and put in freezer bags to store.
An Easier Crust, as Promised:  If you'd like to make a crust (using oil) that comes together with a fork, try an old Betty Crocker crust I used as a young pie baker. 
Don't want to make crust:  Buy a fresh, chilled crust in the dairy section of the grocery store or ask a friend who bakes pie to make you a couple  and freeze them.  Don't buy frozen crusts.  Period.

Have fun cooking and taking care of yourself,
Recipes and Photographs  by Alyce F. Morgan.  Please ask permission for use or copying; I'm generous, but like to know where my personal recipes or photos land.

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