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Old 05-01-2008, 10:19 AM   #31
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Alix's recipe is a good one. I'd only change it by adding 1 tsp. of salt to the flour. As for which makes a better pie crust, lard had shearing properties that aren't matched by Crisco, or any other shortening. And butter, while it tastes great, melts too quickly to make good pie crust. Lard is the fat of choice as it helps produce very flaky and tender crusts (as long as they aren't overmixed).

I have found that you cna pretty much work flour forever and not develop the gluten, as long as you work it before adding water. Keeping the dough cold also helps the little pea/pebble sized dough pellets from blending together. Rather, the water "glues" them together through the starches, while the rolling and stretching flattens them into little flakes. It is the ratio of water to fat that creates a proper pie crust. The drier the crust, before rolling, the flakier the end product will be, and the more tender. But too little water won't allow you to transfer the dough to the pie pan as it will break too easily.

I've heard of people adding vinager to their crusts, but am unfamiliar with how that changes teh end result. I've heard good things about it though. Personally, I suspect that it changes the crust flavor more than anything else.

Also, depending on what you are using the crust for, you can add flavorings to it. Rosemary was mentioned. I've also added beef or chicken soup base to my crust mixture when making home made pot pies, or meat pies. I might add a little sugar, and some cinnamon to the crust if I'm going to make an apple pie. And there are other flavoings as well. Experiment a little. Add herbs and spices to tailor the flavor of your crust to the filling. Be creative. A great crust isn't hard to make, and it will certainly enhance any meal.

Here's an idea for you. Encase a good beef roast in a savory crust flavored with salt and pepper, and garlic. Bake with a thermometer inserted into the meat until the desired temperature is reached. For this application, I would guess an oven temp of 350, to avoid overcooking the crust.

Another idea, make a shortbread or scone recipe and press it into the pie pan to form a crust for a yummy bannana cream, or other custard filled pie.

There are a thousand ways to experiment with your crust. You can add sugar and cocoa, or vanilla, coconut, orange zest, etc. Let yourself create something wonderful, and have fun.

Seeeeeeya; Goodweed of the North
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Old 05-01-2008, 10:33 AM   #32
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I use a basic recipe much like Alix gave above for most savory pies and pasties. I use the Cook's Illustrated one with butter and sugar only for sweet/desert pies.

Experience is the teacher here. The fact that you are making many in a row means you will find the technique. The other way is to make many with an experienced pie maker. But either way the key is repetition.
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