Friday, February 11, 2011

Perfect Pie Dough

From the kitchen of Martha Stewart 
Husband-Tested in Alice’s Kitchen

The secret to making perfect pie dough is to make sure the ingredients and then the dough itself are very cold.  Baking the chilled pie dough in a hot oven makes the butter melt so that it creates steam inside the baking dough.  That makes the flaky crust we all want!

2 ½ cups all-purpose flour                 
½ teaspoon salt
2 sticks unsalted butter, chilled           
½ cup ice-cold water

Measure the flour and salt into a food processor with the blade.  Cut the ice-cold butter into pat-sized piece and add to the flour mixture.  Press the pulse button on the processor until you see pea-sized pieces of butter mixed in to the flour.  Don’t over mix.  Press the On button of the processor and slowly drizzle the ice-cold water into the feeding tube.  When the dough becomes a ball, stop the machine.
Divide the dough into two equal pieces.  (The dough won’t be smooth.  It’ll be sticky.  That’s okay.)  Place each piece of dough on plastic wrap and press into thick disks.  Wrap the dough in the plastic wrap and chill for at least a half hour before rolling it out.  (The dough can be frozen at this point.  Thaw in the refrigerator before rolling out.)
Lightly flour the counter.  Starting from the center of the disk, gently roll out the dough into a circle that is about 2 inches larger than the dish you plan to use.  Lightly sprinkle with flour as you roll out the dough.  Before placing it in the dish, brush the excess flour off with a pastry brush.  (Too much flour on the dough makes it tough.)  Fold the dough in half and place it in the dish.  (Do not stretch the dough because that will make it really shrink.)  Fold the extra dough under or over the edge and crimp.  Prick the dough with a fork on the bottom and sides of the dough.  Place the plastic wrap back over the dish to keep the dough from drying out.  Put the dough in the refrigerator while the oven is preheating.
Fill with a fruit or other filling and bake as your recipe directs or to make a baked pie shell, follow the directions below:
Preheat the oven to 450F degrees.  Remove the dish from the refrigerator and discard the plastic wrap.  Prick the bottom and sides of the dough with a fork.  Place a piece of foil that is larger than the dough inside the dish and then pour about 2 cups of dried beans into the dish over the foil.  Place the pie dough in the hot oven and set the timer for 12 minutes.  (The weight of the beans keeps the dough from puffing up.)
When the timer beeps, carefully remove the foil and beans from the dish.  (Keep the beans in a glass jar and reuse them as pie weights.)
Place the dough back into the oven and continue baking until it is golden brown all over.  Since ovens vary, you will need to check every two minutes or so.
Remove from the oven and allow it to cool on a baking rack.

When the pie dough is cooled, fill it with pastry cream or other cream filling and top with your favorite fresh berries or fresh peaches, whipping cream or meringue. 

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