Pie Crust Tips
From Meta Given's Modern Encyclopedia of Cooking. A
bookbinder would probably
refuse to try to resurrect this cookbook! See also Aunt Ida's Pie crust.
(1)Two reasons for adding salt: if left out, pastry is pale, flat, and tasteless.
(2) Cut lard into flour using two knives or pastry cutter. The object is to divide the fat into particles from about the size of rice grains to split peas so that each particle of fat is coated with flour.
(3) Add water a few drops at a time. Just as purpose of fat and flour is to separate the ingredients, the purpose of the water is to bind the fat-flour particles together. It is important to add just enough water to allow dough to hold its shape and retain puffs and flakes (the goal of every good pastry maker), but not enough to make pastry tough. Using a fork to toss makes this stage easier.
(4) If too much flour is used in rolling dough, it is worked into pastry and you will lose the flakiness. Roll lightly from center to edges in all directions to stretch gluten evenly.
(5) Before trimming or fluting, let crusts rest 10 to 15 minutes. "This resting allows gluten which has been stretched in rolling to relax, and in this relaxed condition, the pastry does not shrink nearly so much in baking."
(6) Using a pastry cloth and "stockinet" for rolling pin prevents alternate stretching and shrinking. Flour can be rubbed uniformly into cloth and stockinet leaving a thin layer. Reduces amount of flour needed.
Addendums from Joy of Cooking Cookbook:
1. Chilling pastry dough, covered, for up to 12 hours after mixing tenderizes it, keeps
it from shrinking during baking, and makes it easier to handle.
2. Use a "nonshiny" pie pan for even browning.
3. "Always" use a preheated oven, because the temperature contrast helps keep crust flaky.
4. For filled pies, do not prick lower crust. If filling is "the juicy kind," first brush bottom of crust with egg white, melted butter, or light sprinkling of flour to keep it from getting soggy.