To prove to our small fire tragedy that it was not getting the best of me, I spent a LOT of time cooking and baking last week. Nothing like some good fire angst to bring out the need for distraction, right? And what better distraction than PIE?
I prefer to make my own crust, and though I am always on the hunt for the next best recipe, there must be a million bazillion pie crust recipes to thumb through out there!
All-lard…Lard and butter…All-butter…All-shortening…Butter and shortening…Butter and cream cheese–
Wait a minute. Did you say butter AND cream cheese? That sounds promising! Could it be that I’ve discovered the Holy Grail of pie crusts? THE ONE to really knock my socks off?
Miraculously, I happened to be in possession of cream cheese and butter, so I decided to devote an afternoon experimenting with this type of dough.
And my results?
Let’s just say that it’s time to ditch those store-bought pastry shells and start making your own cream cheese pie crusts from now on because they are every bit as flexible, flaky, flavorful and fabulous as they are rumored to be!
Cream Cheese Pie Crust
The easiest way to prepare pie crust? In your food processor!
Toss 1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1 stick of cold butter and 4 ounces cold cream cheese into a food processor.
Pulse until the mixture is coarse with pea-sized bits of fat throughout.
Pour in 1 teaspoon of cold apple cider vinegar and 1/4 cup cold water. Pulse to distribute the water and then process until the dough forms a ball.
If the dough is still too crumbly and won’t form a ball, add 1-2 tablespoons of cold water and try again. Dump dough onto the counter and knead it a couple times, working in any crumbs. Wrap in plastic and chill 15 minutes.
Cook’s Note: Try not to over-process or your results will be a tough crust instead of flaky crust.
Time to Roll!
Rolling pie crust. I’ve had good experiences and bad experiences. Take heart, my friends. This pie crust will give you a GOOD experience because the cream cheese gives the dough more flexibility. READ: less tearing (if any)!
Step 1: Lightly flour your work surface and rolling pin.
Step 2: Using steady pressure, start at the bottom end of the dough and roll up.
Step 3: Flip the dough over, giving it a clockwise quarter-turn. Roll again from bottom to top.
Step 4: Continue rolling and flipping, flouring your surface as needed until you have a 12-inch round, 1/4-inch thick circle.
Now…to get it in the dish.
Part of what makes a pie-crust-rolling experience a bad experience is the breakage that can occur while transferring the dough to a pie plate. So if the thought of swinging a floppy circle of dough into a calculated area makes you nervous, follow this method:
- Carefully fold your dough circle in half.
- Fold the dough in half again.
- Transfer the dough to a 9-inch pie plate with the corner of the dough fold placed in the very center of the pie plate.
- Unfold dough and carefully fit it into the plate.
Ok, folks, you’re almost home free!
Forming the Edge
Here’s where things get fun…and pretty!
Step 1: Cut off excess dough leaving a 1/2-inch overhang.
Step 2: Fold the overhang under making sure that the edge of the dough is even with the edge of the pie plate.
Step 3: Crimp edges any way you like. Place the pie shell in the freezer for 15 minutes to “set” the crust and prevent shrinkage during baking.
(For ideas and how-to on this and other decorative pie crust edges, click here for a helpful tutorial from Taste of Home!)
Step 4: Fill and bake. Pecan, pumpkin, sweet potato, peach–whatever you’d like!
OR, prepare a double batch of dough and make a lattice-topped pie! I followed good ol’ Libby’s recipe for pumpkin pie, making sure to cover the crust with a shield during the last 15 minutes of baking.
Need a crust for, say, a chocolate pie? You will need to fully “blind bake” the crust. Form the dough and chill as shown in Step 3. Before baking, line the inside of the shell with a sheet of foil, fill shell with beans or pie weights and bake at 425 degrees about 20 minutes or until the sides begin to brown. Remove pie and carefully scoop out pie weights. Finish baking at 375 degrees another 5 minutes until golden. Chill before filling.
(THANK YOU TO ALL OUR VETERANS! YOU DESERVE ALL THE PIE IN THE WORLD!)
- 1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 stick butter (I actually use salted), chilled and cubed
- 4 ounces cream cheese (half a box), chilled and cubed
- 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar, chilled
- 1/4 cup chilled water
- In a food processor, pulse flour, salt, butter and cream cheese until a coarse mixture forms with pea-sized bits of fat throughout.
- Add vinegar and water and pulse until liquid is mixed through and then process until a ball forms. If the dough is still too crumbly, add 1 tablespoon of water and pulse again. (Do not over-process.)
- Turn dough onto a work surface and knead a couple times to work in excess crumbs. Wrap in plastic and chill for 15 minutes.
- Roll into a 12-inch round, 1/4-inch thick circle. Place in a 9-inch pie plate and form. Freeze crust for 15 minutes before baking to prevent the crust from shrinking.
- Fill and bake.
- To fully blind bake for an icebox pie, line shell with foil, fill with beans or pie weights and bake at 425 degrees about 20 minutes or until the sides begin to brown. Remove pie and carefully scoop out pie weights. Finish baking at 375 degrees another 5 minutes until golden. Chill before filling.
For more ideas check out this week’s link party!