A few weeks ago I received an email from the founder of Salted, a recently launched online cooking school designed for home cooks, comprised of videos from over 50 master chefs across the country.
Jeff Appelbaum, the founder, wondered if I or you, my Readers, might find this type of content helpful, and last week, after watching just a handful of tutorials, I emailed him back immediately: yes, absolutely, who wouldn’t want to watch Roy Choi of Kogi Truck fame make a stir-fried rice-and-beef bowl? or the pastry chef of Gramercy Tavern make apple crisp and cream biscuits? or Daniel Holzman make meatballs?
I was hooked. It was nearly impossible to ignore a few videos — how to make perfect sushi rice; how to butcher a lamb (you never know!) — but given the timing, I kept my mother’s wisdom in mind: Priorities!
If ever there were a time to perfect making pie dough, it’s now, and over the weekend, I came as close to perfection as I ever have. After watching Rose Lawrence’s pie-dough making video (embedded below), I decided to give her recipe and method a go, and for the first time ever, my pie shell emerged from the oven with a beautifully golden scalloped edge still intact. A Thanksgiving miracle! What’s more, it was the tenderest, flakiest dough I have made, melting — “shattering” in Rose Lawrence’s words — with every bite.
I never thought I would give up my food processor method — it always worked well — but I think I’m forever changed. A few other tips I picked up:
- • Once the dough has rested in the fridge for at least 30 minutes, take it out, and beat it with your rolling pin. This helps warm it up and makes it easier to roll.
• When shaping the shell for a one-crust pie, like the one pictured here or any pumpkin or squash pie, trim a little excess dough, then fold the dough back and underneath to create a thicker edge — watch the video if this isn’t making sense. The thicker edge will help the scalloped edge (or whatever shaping method you choose) hold its shape.
• Be sure not to make too many folds in the shell’s edge — when there are too many crimps, they’ll disappear when the shell is baked.
The timing of this email exchange with Jeff couldn’t have been better for me — I’m in charge of the pie making for Thanksgiving in VT this week — and I’m hoping you’ll all take advantage of the timing, too. Salted has offered alexandra’s kitchen Readers a two-month free membership: just use promo code alexandra2 at checkout. By becoming Salted members you get the full downloadable recipe and step-by-step instructions.
I’ve been focused on the pastry-making videos, but there are so many others that will come in handy immediately: How to Carve a Turkey, How to Make a No-nonsense Brown Gravy, etc. And so many others I’m looking forward to watching as soon as the Thanksgiving leftovers are cleared, namely Warm Brussels Sprout Salad with Poached egg. Yum.
Wishing you all the Happiest Thanksgiving! Talk soon.
You can’t tell from the photo, but I’m beating the dough with my rolling pin, which helps warm up the dough and makes it easier to roll:
Loved this tip: folding the dough back and under, which creates a thicker edge, one that will hold its shape better.
Once the shell is shaped and docked, stick it in the freezer for 15 to 20 minutes:
Then blind bake it weighted with dried beans or pie weights for 15 to 20 minutes:
Foolproof All-Butter Pie Dough
Dough recipe and method from Rose Lawrence of Red Bread in Los Angeles
Maple Chess Pie recipe over on Food52 — loved it.
- 5 cups (638 g) flour
- 2 teaspoons sugar
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 32 ounces butter, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
- 3/4 cup water, chilled
- Combine the flour, sugar, and salt in a large mixing bowl. Add half of the cold butter to the dry ingredients. Toss the butter in the flour mixture until all of the pieces are coated. Using your fingers, lift the pieces of butter over the bowl and begin to break them apart. Work as quickly as possible to prevent the butter from melting. The pieces of butter should eventually resemble the size of large peas. Once incorporated, add the rest of the butter and repeat the crumbling process.
- Make a well in the middle of the flour-butter mixture. Pour about half of the cold water into the center. Using your hand like a spatula, scrape the sides of the bowl and gently fold the flour into the center well. Rotate the bowl slightly and repeat the folding process until a shaggy dough forms. Continue adding water one tablespoon at a time until the dough becomes a cohesive mass.
- Pour the dough onto a clean surface. Be sure to scrape any remnants from the bottom of the bowl to reincorporate them. Press down on the dough with your palms and work it into a large disk. Store the dough as is or cut it into four equal-sized portions. If separating the dough into portions, work each piece into a disk and wrap it loosely with plastic wrap. Refrigerate the dough for at least 30 minutes before rolling or freeze it for future use.
- Lightly dust a clean, non-porous surface with flour. Remove the pie dough from the refrigerator and discard the wrapping. Dust a small amount of flour on top of the dough and the rolling pin. With the rolling pin, hit the dough repeatedly, warming and flattening it as much as possible prior to rolling it. Starting from the center of the flattened disk, push down on the rolling pin, press the dough away from your body and then pull it back toward you. Gently lift and rotate the dough and repeat the rolling process. Add flour any time the dough becomes sticky. Continue rolling until the dough is flat, even, and to your desired thickness.
- To make a pie crust, place a pie dish upside down on the rolled-out dough. Using scissors or a knife, cut around the circumference of the dish, leaving about an inch of dough between the the rim of the dish and your cut. Gently place the trimmed dough over the inside of the dish. Lift the edges up slightly and allow the dough to sink into the dish. Remove excess dough from the sides but leave approximately one inch hanging over. For this pie, the edge should be rolled under and crimped. (watch video.) Puncture the bottom of the raw crust with a fork to prevent the bottom from puffing up during the baking process. Place shell in freezer for 20 minutes.
- Preheat oven to 425ºF. Remove shell from freezer. Lay a sheet of parchment paper over the dough and fill it with dried beans or pie weights. Bake for 20 minutes. Remove pan from oven, carefully remove parchment and beans and let shell cool completely before proceeding with the recipe.
- To make the maple chess pie, head over to food52.