It is hard to imagine a traditional cherry pie or apple pie without a delicate, flaky crust with lightly browned edges. When you take a bit of pie the crust has excellent texture and melts in your mouth. The same holds true
for pecan pie. The best tasting pecan pie starts with a great crust. The key to great dough creation is in the ingredients and their treatment. Fresh, high quality ingredients that have been refrigerated so they are ice cold, and quick handling
are key. Creating perfect pie dough that delivers a delicious crust takes a little practice but can be mastered.
Whenever or whatever you are baking, fresh ingredients will always reward you with a superior finished baked good. Pie crust is no exception. Flour, butter or shortening, sugar, etc all benefit from being brand new right out of a freshly
opened package. Choosing high quality, superior brand name ingredients will also make a definite difference. Pay attention to the ingredient list and use the best ingredients.
It is very important to use cold ingredients when preparing traditional pie crust dough. For best results, that includes all the ingredients that will be going into your pie crust. Place them in the refrigerator for a few hours prior to
mixing dough and they will be ideally prepared for making dough. The cold ingredients keep the butter or shortening in the proper consistency as you are combining ingredients. The fat will tend to dissolve in the flour if the ingredients
are room temperature, and that is not desirable. Later when baked, the butter or shortening melts creating pockets between the layers of dough, resulting in a flaky pie crust.
The proper mixing of ingredients is another key to mastering the art of the perfect pie crust. The amount of flour, water and other ingredients that go into a pie crust can vary slightly depending on the age of your flour, the humidity,
the temperature of your work area, and other factors in and out of your control. When you add moisture to dry ingredients you run the risk of the dough being too moist and you may need to add additional flour to compensate and produce dough
with just the right consistency and moistness. When you pinch a piece of your freshly made dough, it should hold together with only a small amount of dry cracking. When your fresh dough is too crumbly, you will need to add more moisture.
Very small amounts of additional ingredients are usually required to tip the balance and achieve the perfect mixture.
Many experienced pie bakers will prepare their dough ball, and then wrap and refrigerate the dough for a period of an hour or so before rolling the dough out and making a pie. When you prepare the dough and place in the refrigerator, it
gives the moisture in the dough the chance to disperse throughout the dough better. As you want to avoid over-mixing any dough you create, any over dry or over moist areas in your dough will become more consistent with the rest of the dough.
This process refrigeration step after dough creation allows the gluten strands in the dough extra time to relax. Chilling also re-firms up the butter or shortening in your dough. The result is pastry that is easier to roll, limited shrinkage
of the crust while baking, and a flakier crust.