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Perfect Pie Dough 101 – lattice top

With very few ingredients you can make one of America’s most beloved desserts, the pie. We start with the crust, the frame which holds the filling, in this case white peach and raspberry. It should be tender and flaky, buttery and a lovely compliment to whatever you have put inside. I am forever hunting for what I consider the perfect pie crust. There are as many recipes as their are households. Every family seems to have their own prized recipe. If you are having a tough time recreating your grandmother’s crust, it may not be the fault of the recipe, but the technique you are using. Try following my instructions on how to make this dough, I got the recipe from Dorie Greenspan’s latest tome Baking: From My Home to Yours [1].

Hint before you get started, everything should be as cold as possible. On a really hot summer day I will even freeze my flour before I get started so that it doesn’t melt the butter as I’m mixing. At any point in the process if your butter seems too soft just throw the whole thing in the freezer for a few minutes.

“Good for almost everything pie dough” from Baking: From My Home to Yours [1] by Dorie Greenspan

For a 9-inch double crust:

3 cups all-purpose flour

1/4 cup sugar

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

2 1/2 sticks (10 ounces) very cold (frozen is good) unsalted butter, cut into tablespoon sized pieces

1/3 cup frozen vegetable shortening cut into tablespoon sized pieces

About 1/2 cup ice water – have more on the ready just in case

egg wash (1 egg mixed with 1 tablespoon water)

sugar for sprinkling

Equipment (see bottom of post for my recommendations):

Cuisinart 7-Cup Food Processor [2]

Heavy Gauge Clear Vinyl [3] (This is the clear sheet that I roll out the pie dough. Nothing sticks to it and you can lift it up easily and move it around. you can also use a Roll’Pat Pastry Mat [4], but it is much more expensive.)

Marble Rolling Pin [5]

Pastry Wheel [6] used to trim the lattice strips

Pastry Brush [7]

The following directions are mine and Dorie may or may not agree with me! 😉

There are many ways to cut the butter and shortening into the flour, but I prefer to use a combination of my Cuisinart and my hands. The Cuisinart breaks up the fat quickly, so there is less time for it to get warm.

Put the butter in the machine in 3 parts and pulse 2-3 times. By the time you’ve added all of the butter, some of it will completely blended into the flour and some will be in large pea sized pieces.

Add the ice water to the dough 3 table spoons at a time and pulse just once to combine. If you pulse too much at this point you will continue to break down the butter too much.

Once you’ve added all of the water pour the dough out onto the counter, or into a large flat bowl (pasta serving bowl works well). It may still need some water, so I like to do the rest by hand so that I don’t end up breaking down the butter too much.

First try pressing the dough together to determine if it is too dry. If it isn’t holding together, or there is still powdery flour then add a couple more tablespoons of water and try pressing together again.

The dough should come together without falling apart, but not be too mushy with water.

Press into a log and cut into 2 pieces.

Form the dough into disks and wrap well with plastic. See the whole pieces of butter in the dough, this is what you want to create the flakiness. Chill for at least 2 hours.

Once the dough is chilled sprinkle flour onto your counter, a rollpat or a piece of heavy gauge vinyl (which I am using here).

Roll the dough out from the center, adding a little flour and turning the dough a 1/4 turn to make sure it isn’t sticking too much to the surface. If you use a rollpat or vinyl you will end up using less flour.

Make sure the dough will fit the pan you are using. There should be about 2 extra inches around the pie plate.

Use your rolling pin to transfer the dough to the pie plate. Put the rolling pin in the middle of the dough and fold the dough over the pin to lift it.

Place the dough in the pie plate, don’t force or stretch it or it will shrink away from the sides as it bakes. Put the pie plate with dough into the refrigerator to rest while you make the lattice.

Roll the next disk of dough out just as you did the first one, but this time you need to build it on a sheet of vinyl or a rollpat so it can be lifted. Now you will use a pastry wheel to cut strips in the dough. Depending on your personality you can measure the strips or eyeball them. When you are finished cutting the strips remove every other one and set aside.

Fold up every other one of the remaining strips to the middle point. Lay one of the pieces that you had set aside over the strips that are laying flat. Unfold the strips and repeat with the next set.

Continue until you get to the end of this side and then start this on the other side.

Once the lattice is prepared slide the vinyl or rollpat onto a cutting board or baking sheet so that you can easily transfer to the refrigerator. You need to let this chill so that it is easier to slide onto the filled pie.

Once the lattice is chilled it will slide easily onto the pie shell filled with fruit. Then you will need to trim the excess length off of the lattice strips.

They should fit just over the filling.

Fold up the sides of the pie shell and then crimp them in whatever design you choose.

Brush the surface of the lattice, but not the edge of the pie shell, with egg wash.

Sprinkle with sugar, I then stick the pie into the freezer for about 15 minutes while the oven is preheating to 425. Freezing the dough will help to set the dough so that it won’t blow out your design when it goes in the oven. The length of time to bake your pie will be determined by the filling. My peach-raspberry pie took about an hour.