On Tuesday, my brother came over. Our original plans were to toast our mom on the anniversary of her passing. I’d picked up a fantastic French bottle of champagne and I was going to prepare some local quail I’d procured.
In reality, we watched a hilarious hillbilly slasher flick and ate junk food. It was awesome. At one point in the evening, my brother looked at me, and said, “I’m craving apple pie. We should go get some.” I asked, “Will pear do?”
Now, I’ve been told my kitchen is a little like an apothecary. Its walls are lined with jars filled with powders and potions. I’ve been known to emerge from it bearing mysterious creations with curative powers. Tuesday night, when I walked out of that kitchen, with a steamy, golden, pear gallette, I felt less like a woman of science, and much more like a magician.
There is nothing like the look on a person’s face when they catch sight and smell of something baked just for them- especially on the spur of the moment. And this, is why I love to always have a bit of pastry crust chilling in my fridge.
You may have seen my photo tutorial for butter and lard pastry crust. That crust is still amazing, but a month ago, something earth-shattering happened. My friend Kimmie of Full Circle Foodie came to me & said, “You know I love you, but I had pie crust better than yours”
I stopped dead in my tracks. Although I was sure she was saying it out of love, it stung like hell!
I gathered myself and pried her for information. The recipe is a standard 3-2-1 pie crust, but the methodology is key! The idea comes from pastry chef, Rachel Caygill of Banker’s Hill Bar & Restaurant in San Diego. I’ve done research (oh boy have I done research) trying everything from leaf lard to duck fat in addition to butter.
I still adore leaf lard, and if you like, you can do 3 oz of leaf lard for the second fat addition, but this crust is so flaky that you needn’t reach for the lard. Honest to goodness. This is my favorite crust yet- a truly beautiful and handmade crust.
A few notes on process.
1. Slice your butter very thinly, this will make it easy to work with.
2. Be sure to freeze your butter and flour for at least 15 minutes. It works great if you do it overnight! I just store some pre-sliced butter in the freezer- never know when the mood will strike!
3. Don’t be afraid to work the dough BEFORE adding the water. Once you’ve added the water; however, handle the dough as little as possible. When you are rolling the butter into the flour, you’ll see sheets of butter coated in flour- just imagine how flaky it is. The second fat addition makes for those big chunks of fat.
INGREDIENTS FLAKY ALL BUTTER PIE CRUST
- 7.5 oz unbleached cake flour
- 7.5 oz unbleached pastry flour
- 10 oz butter very thinly sliced (divided, 7 oz, 3 oz)
- 5 oz ice water water
- 1 tablespoon cider vinegar
- 1 teaspoon fine ground sea salt
INSTRUCTIONS FLAKY ALL BUTTER PIE CRUST
- Freeze butter and flour for at least 15 minutes
- Place rolling pin and bench scraper in the freezer
- Combine water, sea salt, and vinegar and place in freezer
- Sift flours out onto rolling surface (through a medium sieve works fine)
- Scatter 7 oz of the butter over the top of the flour (put the rest back in the freezer) and begin rolling the flour into the butter with your rolling pin.
- Use your entire body to do this, and don’t be afraid to put your back into it. You’ll see sheets of butter coated in flour.
- Keep moving the flour into a one-foot squared working area with your bench-scraper, and rolling the butter in until there is no flour that seems completely uncoated.
- At this point, gather the flour back to a small mound again, and scatter the remaining butter. Cut it in with your bench scraper until there are no uncoated chunks of butter. Pea to hazelnut sized chunks of flour-coated butter are fine.
- Use your rolling pin, again, to incorporate this butter.
- Form your flour into a small mound in the center of your rolling surface and create a well in the middle.
- Pour your water into the well, and using your bench scraper, scoop the sides of the flour into the center. You’ll need to work quickly, as the water will want to escape, but you’ll get the hang of it; it’s actually fun!
- Keep turning the dough to work in the scraggly bunches of flour. The dough will come together, but it’s not pretty. It’s shaggy and super messy. You may question whether this can ever make a decent pie crust, it will.
- Fold it into a rectangle, and then make a business letter type fold. This is forming layers that will give you something that is almost like puff pastry!
- Cut into two pieces, gently form into discs, wrap tightly with plastic wrap and place in the fridge to chill for at least one hour and then proceed to roll it out for your favorite pie, tart, or gallette recipes.
Next time, I’ll be back with instructions on how to make the rich and creamy beet tart you see at the top of this post!