Friday, November 5, 2010

Vegan MoFo Day 5: Pie Crust!

There are two truths in life:
1. There is nothing better than a homemade pie crust.
2. Pillsbury pie crusts contain lard.

I didn't realize that second one until recently. Someone told me and I was like "No way!" and they were like "Way!" and I looked the next time I was in the supermarket, and damn if they didn't contain lard! Didn't matter much anyway since I've been making my own pie crusts for years. The recipe is ridiculously simple. It yields two 9-10 inch pie crusts. "But I have an eight inch pie pan!" you say. Aha, yes, but how often do you roll out a PERFECT pie crust? I'm good, and I still like a little extra dough to work with. Plus, extra dough is great for making little jam tarts (roll out the dough, cut it with a cookie cutter, put a dollop of jam in the middle, put another piece on top, seal it, bake!). The margarine and shortening combination makes it rich and tasty, but also light and flaky. The vodka also helps with the flaky layers, because alcohol doesn't activate gluten like water does, and we all know from seitan making what a brainy ball of goo gluten is! Not flaky at all! You can also add a pinch of salt to this, but I find the EB tends to be salty enough. Sometimes I do replace out some flour for powdered sugar, and add some cinnamon, and swap out some vanilla extract for some vodka... so it is a bit flexible!

Pie Crust (2 crusts! half the recipe if you only need a bottom crust)
1/2 cup (one stick) Non-Hydrogenated Margarine (Earth Balance!), Cold
1/2 cup (one stick) Non-Hydrogenated Shortening (Earth Balance!), Cold
2 cups all purpose flour (I've tried half and all whole wheat, white whole wheat, whole wheat pastry, it doesn't work as well)
Up to 1/2 cup vodka*, from the freezer

1. Cut the margarine and shortening into small cubes.

2. Put the flour in a medium bowl. Toss the cubes to coat them in the flour, then cut them into the flour using a pastry blade until it sort of resembles coarse cornmeal (or there aren't huge lumps of shortening/margarine. a few smaller ones are fine)

3. Add the vodka, a few tbsp at a time, until the dough forms together into a ball. I use my hands for this.

4. Roll the dough into a ball, split it into two balls, wrap each in plastic wrap, flatten into a disc, and refrigerate for a bit (this helps the flour rehydrate and the dough become more elastic. I don't have an exact time. I've made it the night before, and then it usually needs to sit on the counter for a bit. I usually just have it chilling until my filling is ready).

5. Roll out, put in pie pan, do what you're doin' with it!

Peach Pie with Lattice Crust

Ube (purple sweet potato) pie from last Thanksgiving

Blueberry-Cherry-Sugar Plum Pie from this summer's Pie Potluck. Complete with Pie Bird!!

* Most of the alcohol cooks off in the oven. Whatever's left isn't enough to get anyone even slightly buzzed. If you're still not comfortable with it, just use ice cold water! It still works, its just less flaky.


Jacklyn said...

How did you get the edges of your pie crust so puffy and twisted? I do agree though that homemade pie crusts are best. Actually, homemade anything is best! I am still learning how to perfect my pie crust but the one thing I am still totally lost with is graham cracker crusts. Practice, practice, practice!

celyn said...

Oh, beautiful pies!

Monique a.k.a. Mo said...

Beautiful! I always use Marie Callender's frozen crusts because they use vegetable shortening.