Jackie Conway, a self-proclaimed "Pie Girl" and a winner in this year's Best of the Springs, was serving up a pie buffet at the June Inspiration Saturday event held at Coutura Design Inspirations.
The basis for a prize-winning pie is the crust. Conway spent most of the class telling us how to perfect the recipe. Be forewarned: You must have a kitchen scale to weigh ingredients accurately. Conway said there were conversions available, but I wouldn't recommend going that route. Baking is an exact science. Stick with her recipe and you can roll out blue ribbon-worthy dough with practice.
Her two other main tips were to not overwork the dough and to keep everything cold. She also recommends making the pie crusts a day ahead.
To make dough for two double crust pies, weigh 8 ounces of real butter. "Keep butter in the freezer," Conway said.
Cut butter into small cubes about the size of dice and put them back in the freezer.
"If butter, shortening and water are not ice cold when you make the dough, you will not get a flaky crust," she said.
She weighed 6+ ounces of Crisco.
"You use butter for flavor and Crisco for flakiness," she said. "Some people use lard, and that's fine, too."
Next, she weighed 21 ounces of pastry flour, which she whisked with two teaspoons of salt in a large mixing bowl. The shortening was cut into the flour, first followed by the butter.
"For first-time pie bakers, it's important to remember not to overwork the dough," she stressed. "It will make the crust tough. That's why I don't use a food processor. It can overwork the dough."
Cut the shortening and butter into the dough until it looks like large grain cornmeal. Then it's time to start adding ice cold water, two tablespoons at a time. Conway likes to wear rubber gloves for this step as she gently folds the water and flour together until it clumps up. In all, she used about a cup of water.
Conway then weighed out four 10-ounce balls of dough and formed each into a flat disk about 6 inches in diameter. She covered them in plastic wrap and put them in the refrigerator.
Conway lightly floured a chilled piece of marble (I have a granite counter top in my kitchen and that was cool enough to get the job done) and placed the cold disk of dough in the center. She used the plastic wrap from the cold dough to cover it before she started rolling the pie crust.
"Gently roll from the center to the edges of the disk," she said. "This will make it the same thickness all around. Ease the circle into the plate. Don't push it. The circle should hang about 2 inches over the pie plate."
Trim the edge with scissors so you have about an inch to fold together with the top crust to finish the pie. Cut steam vents into the top crust and brush with cream for a crispy texture to the finished crust. Place the pie on the bottom oven shelf and cover the edges with foil for the first 30 minutes of baking to prevent the edges from getting too brown.
Conway filled her pie with a mixture of 2+ cups fresh strawberries, 2 cups rhubarb, ? cup sugar and 3+ tablespoons cornstarch. Before covering the fruit with the second pie crust (that was rolled out like the bottom crust) she dotted the filling with 2 tablespoons cold butter. The pie was baked at 425 degrees for 45 minutes.
Contact Teresa J. Farney at 636-0271