It's book launch day for The Luck of the Buttons and I know Anne Ylvisaker is headed to her local library with a treat to celebrate the book and Librarian Day for National Library Week (How are you celebrating?). In the meantime, we can celebrate with her post here.-AA
My mother, the youngest in her family, tells of being left home one afternoon when she was about 9 or 10 and told to make a pie before her sisters returned. Not knowing that piecrust is supposed to be difficult to make, she simply followed the recipe and rolled out a crust. Her pie was a flaky success.
In my family, pie is all about the crust. It doesn’t matter how spectacular the filling, if it’s plopped it in tough crust, it isn’t worth eating. The operative word is flaky. A proper piecrust should be made with shortening (read: Crisco) never butter or oil. Never, gasp, purchased. A crust must have just the right touch of salt, enough to flavor, not so much as to overpower the filling.
While my first novel, Dear Papa, is fiction, many of the stories from my mother’s family came back to me while I wrote. There are four sisters in my fictional family and you can bet every one of them can roll out a proper piecrust.
Despite the pressure for flaky perfection, piecrust really isn’t difficult (chant my mother and my aunties). I’ve achieved flaky, but not pretty. The ingredients and process, at least, are basic.
From Betty Crocker:
8- or 9-inch One-Crust Pie
1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon shortening or 1/3 cup lard
1 cup all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon salt
2 to 3 tablespoons cold water
Cut shortening into flour and salt until particles are size of small peas. Sprinkle in water, 1 tablespoon at a time, tossing with fork until all four is moistened and pastry almost cleans side of bowl (1 to 2 teaspoons water can be added if necessary).
Gather pastry into a ball; shape into flattened round on lightly floured cloth-covered board. Roll pastry 2 inches larger than inverted pie plate with floured stockinet-covered rolling pin. Fold pastry into quarters; unfold and ease into plate, pressing firmly against bottom and side.
Trim overhanging edge of pastry 1 inch from rim of plate. Fold and roll pastry under, even with plate; flute. Fill and bake as directed in recipe.