There is a cooking school in our area that recently offered a pie-making class with what I considered to be a pretty hefty price tag. I mentioned it to my sister-in-law one day, and she said, “Oh, if you want to learn to make the best pie crust in the world, you should ask Bonnie to teach you. She would really enjoy it, too.”
Last weekend, I met Bonnie, and she was kind enough to walk me through the process of making pie crust. I could see right away that there were two things she did differently.
1. She used all-vegetable shortening instead of oil
2. She added ice water after mixing the shortening into the flour and salt.
Here’s the recipe:
2 cups flour
3/4 cups shortening
1 tsp salt
7 Tbsp ice water (put a few ice cubes in a cup of water before you get started and it’ll be ready to add when you get to that step.)
Directions: Put the flour, shortening and salt in a bowl. You can use a pastry blender or just mix it all together with your hands. After the shortening is mixed in, it will look all crumbly. (Is that really a word?) Next, add the water.
I couldn’t wait to try it myself. One of the hardest parts about pie crust, for me, is always getting it rolled out, and not using so much flour that it is dry and tough! This was not a problem with Bonnie’s recipe. Here’s what I did:
1. Took the ball of dough and separated it into two pieces. This makes 2 pie crusts, so you now have two bottoms, or a top and a bottom!
2. Used my glass pie pan to smash the ball into a flat circle.
3. I did NOT use any flour on the countertop. I did spread a little shortening on the countertop so that it wouldn’t stick. It worked for my cinnamon roll recipe, so I figured it would work for pie crust, too, and it did.
4. I turned the oven to 425 degrees to preheat while I rolled out the dough. It rolled out just great and I didn’t have any trouble pulling it off the countertop. I placed it in the glass pie pan, trimmed it and crimped the edges, poked holes with a fork so it wouldn’t puff up, and put it in the oven. About 10 minutes later, I had two beautiful pie crusts.
While the crusts were cooling, I made the filling for our family favorite, banana cream pie. I got this recipe from my SIL, Pam, years ago, and it’s our favorite. I also found it at cooks.com and have pasted it below:
|OLD FASHIONED BANANA CREAM PIE|
1 pie crust (9 inch), baked
3 tablespoons cornstarch
1 2/3 cups water
14 ounces sweetened condensed milk
3 egg yolks, beaten
2 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 medium bananas
In heavy saucepan, dissolve cornstarch in water; stir in sweetened condensed milk and egg yolks. Cook and stir until thickened and bubbly.
Remove from heat; add butter and vanilla. Cool slightly. Slice 2 bananas; dip in lemon juice and drain. Arrange on bottom of prepared crust. Pour filling over bananas; cover. Chill 4 hours or until set.
Spread top with whipped cream. Slice remaining banana; dip in lemon juice, drain and garnish top of pie. Refrigerate leftovers.
Serving Size: 6
After Bonnie and I said our goodbyes, I couldn’t help but think about what a treasure we have in learning from our friends. Bonnie and her sister had been taught by their mother how to make a pie. They’ve made it this way their whole lives and have perfected it. There’s nothing difficult about the recipe or the process. It’s just something you do again and again until you get it just right.
The price of that cooking class was $95, but the price of learning from Bonnie just can’t be measured. She felt joy at being asked to share her skill, and I am delighted to have learned something that I will definitely use and pass on to others.
I’ll never buy pie crust again and these ingredients are all shelf-stable. The cost of making two pie crusts is probably not more than a nickel, and yet even if you buy an off brand of prepared crusts, it’ll cost you at least $1.50. I guarantee the one you buy at the store will never be as fresh and flaky as this one! Give it a try and share your experience with us.