Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Recipe: Martha's Crusty Crust

It's the holiday season, which means it's also Pie Makin' Season! For Thanksgiving, we are responsible for the pies. I have to make a pumpkin (or 2), because you can't have Thanksgiving without pumpkin pie! And we usually make a 2nd flavor - either pecan or some kind of fruit. Well, this passed Thanksgiving, it was time to mix it up.

First change up was the crust. I always buy Marie Callender's frozen crusts or the refrigerated Pillsbury crusts. I've always been a good baker, and now that I can add everyday cook to my resumé, it was time give it a whirl. Who else do you turn to when you're going to try a new recipe (or DIY project, or paint color, or anything that you want to turn out fabulous), but Martha Stewart! Queue the ray of sunlight shining through the clouds and the angel music... ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh....

Here is the recipe I used for the crust that turned out absolutely amazing!

Martha's Pie Crust

Ingredients - Makes enough for one 9-inch pie (both the crust and a top for the pie)

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) plus 2 tablespoons cold, unsalted butter
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup ice water, plus more if needed


  1. To make dough by hand: Sift flour and salt onto work surface. Using your fingertips, mix butter very quickly into flour mixture until crumbly. Form a well in the center and add water. Using a bench scraper, quickly incorporate water into dough, taking care not to overwork the dough. Add more water if dough seems too dry.
  2. To make dough using a food processor: In the bowl of a food processor, pulse together flour and salt. Add butter and mix until it resembles a coarse meal. With the machine running, slowly add water and process until a dough comes together. Add more water if dough seems too dry.
  3. Break dough into walnut-sized pieces and, one at a time, flatten each piece against your work surface with the heel of your hand (this creates flaky layers of butter inside the crust). Reincorporate dough into two equal size balls and flatten into disks. Wrap each disk in plastic wrap and chill at least 1 hour before rolling out.
I was fancy and made it by hand. I don't have a food processor (It's on my Christmas List, though!). I felt like I was channeling my grandmas and their do-it-by-hand-living-on-the-farm ways. For my next trick, I'll churn my own butter...

Making the crusts by hand was, a little more time consuming, but it wasn't too bad. I ran through this recipe twice, because I was going to make one old fashioned basic pumpkin pie (with no top), and a new twist (at least for our family) for the 2nd pumpkin pie (with a top), which I'll tell you about later in the week.
Sifting the flour
My work station
Starting to come together. When mixing in the butter, I found it easiest to cut the butter into small little cubes. It's easier & faster to incorporate into the flour. Also, the recipe says to add 1/4 cup of ice water. This is a good starting point, but it was hardly wet enough to make the dough come together. I added more water little by little until the dough barely came together. Be sure to do Step #3 and flatten little pieces of dough against your work surface to create buttery, flaky, tasty layers in the crust. This makes sense, but I never would've thought of doing it, had I not read it! Genius, Martha!
Ready to go into the fridge!

Let me preface my next statement with this: I am not a pie crust eating person. I eat just enough to go with the filling, but the crunchy part around the rim of the pie is always left on my plate, uneaten. This crust was buttery and flaky and delicious! I ate all of it, including the extra bits! So long store bought pie crust! This is cheaper and adds that extra touch of love in your pie to make it that much tastier!

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