Jill Henderson – Show Me Oz –
Of all the holiday celebrations, Thanksgiving is by far and away my favorite. And anyone who knows me, also knows that I love me some dessert. In fact, pies are a particular weakness of mine. I mean, who doesn’t love a sweet, crunchy, savory plate of unimaginable yumminess wrapped in a simple, flaky crust and slathered with a delectable topping? Of course, if you are the one tasked with bringing the pies and aren’t feeling up to the task you might just be in stress-mode. But don’t sweat it. In this week’s Show Me Oz, I’ll show you how to make a simply delicious pie (and crust!) that you can be proud of!
The truth is that I’ve not always been the best pie maker. Indeed, I’ve made my share of tasteless cardboard crusts and sweaty centers and burnt edges. Of course, practice is a baker’s best friend, but the biggest enemy to the novice baker is extravagance. If you stick with a humble pie made with love, everyone at the table will love it.
Since the foundation of every pie is its crust (and there’s absolutely nothing more humbling to a good cook than a pie crust), here is a super easy pie crust recipe that I have used for years. It began with a similar (and very messy) recipe that called for vegetable oil instead of butter or shortening. After many years of using that recipe, I decided to search for its origins and found this recipe for Wesson Oil Pastry Crust. It’s not what I call “fakey-flakey”, but if you’re gentle with the dough, it will be plenty flakey. Plus, this crust is tender and delicious and will come through for you every single time!
Wesson Oil Pastry Crust
2 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup of vegetable oil
1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons milk
Yield: Two generous 9” pie pastries.
Carefully measure out the flour and salt in a large bowl. Into a smaller bowl, measure the oil and milk but do not stir them together. Pour the milk mixture into the flour mixture and gently turn and fold together until large clumps form.
If the dough is dry or if the dough does not pick up all the flour in the bowl, sprinkle 1 tsp. milk over the top and gently fold until the dry flour is absorbed. Repeat as needed. Gently press the clumps together just enough to form a thick disc. Wrap the disc in plastic and refrigerate it for at least one hour. Should you add too much liquid and the dough becomes sticky, simply press the dough into the bottom of the bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and chill for one to several hours to firm up. Works every time.
This dough freezes well. To use, simply remove from the freezer and thaw in the refrigerator overnight.
To determine how big your pie crust should be, wet the countertop with a clean cloth and lay down and smooth out a large sheet of waxed paper. Turn the clean pie plate you intend to use rim-side down and lay it on top of the waxed paper. If you like, use a pen to mark the circumference of the rim of the pie plate directly on to the waxed paper. You will want to roll the dough out so that it extends 1”-1 ½” inches beyond the edge of the rim. This should be enough to line the entire inside of the pie plate with about 1” left over for the edge crust.
Divide the dough in half. Place the dough in the center of the waxed paper and lay another sheet of waxed paper on top. Roll the dough between the two sheets to the desired size. Remove the top sheet of paper and dust the surface of the dough, spreading it around with your hand to cover the entire surface (this is simply to allow the crust slide a bit after you put it into the pie plate).
Now, use the bottom sheet to lift and flip the dough on to the waiting pie plate. Quickly adjust the position of the crust so that the edges hang evenly over the rim and then gently push the crust down into the plate at the center and working outward. You want the bottom and sides to be flat with no air pockets underneath. Starting on one side, very carefully peel the waxed paper away from the dough. As you expose the dough, gently roll it under itself to form the outer crust. Be sure that it covers the rim to the outer edge. Do this all the way around the pan, slowly removing the paper as you go. When finished, shape the edge of the crust with your fingers or a fork, as desired. Fill the shell with pie ingredients and bake according to pie recipe instructions.
So, now that we’re covered on the crust, head on over to my article, The Pies Have It!, and scroll down to find one more super easy pie crust and several delicious pie recipes – including pumpkin/squash and custard – that will make you look like the pastry chef you were born to be!
Many Blessings and Happy Thanksgiving!