Monday, March 15, 2010
My husband's sister and brother in law will be stopping through town in a few weeks on their way to a cabin in Tennessee. I asked them if there was anything they wanted me to make for them. I love trying out all these new techniques, but don't want to have them all at the house all the time! So I figure this is a win-win situation for everyone. They asked for a pecan pie. I haven't made a pie yet, especially not one with my own crust, but I was excited to give it a shot. They aren't coming through town for a few weeks, but I figured this was something I needed to have a trial run of before the real deal.
I went to the trusty King Arthur Flour website and decided on their 'guaranteed' pecan pie. I started out fairly well, trying to be very careful not to mix the butter in too much so that it melts. I've read over and over again that the butter needs to be in tact to aid in the flakiness of a pie dough. I cut in the shortening (which adds to a tender crust and also makes a butter crust easier to work with), then went about adding the butter. I think I did that part well. Then it was time to add the ice water. This is where I lost things a little bit. I've read that you want to add just enough so that the dough barely comes together. So I added just a little, tried to form it into a disk as well as I could, then put it in the fridge so that the butter can get cold again and the gluten can relax. When it came time to roll out the dough, it was just too dry. So I ended up adding more water and working the dough more than I would like and putting it in the fridge again.
When I rolled out the dough this time, it still cracked a tiny bit, but not a whole lot. I transferred the dough to the pie pan and proceeded with the recipe. I placed the cooled pie in the fridge overnight. I was very hesitant to try the pie the next day for fear that I completely messed up the crust. I figured it can't taste bad if I don't taste it!
But I gave in and gave it a try. My husband and I both got a piece and warmed it in the microwave. The crust around the edges was a little bit thick, but I think overall it turned out pretty well. I am much less nervous about pie crusts now.
I was very anxious throughout the process, but I learned a lot. I need to add just a little more water to start with next time. I have a much better idea on how the dough feels and looks, so that will help tremendously in not overworking the dough. I will also need to roll the dough just a little bit thinner before transferring it to the pie plate.
I am hoping that I will have a chance to make another pie in the next few days or at the very least make some dough to freeze it. I think repeating the process sooner rather than later will help me retain all the little tricks and hints that will make all my future pies that much better.