Once again, we are celebrating Pi Day (3.14) with a big party. Hopefully, I’ll remember to take a few pictures this year. But in the meantime, I present my pie crust recipe – flaky butter pastry from The Heritage of Southern Cooking, by Camille Glenn. I received this cookbook from a Chinese grad student in my first grad school career, and I don’t know if I’ve used any other recipe in this book (although I just noticed one for rhubarb cream pie that I plan to try this summer!). I’m not sure why not – it’s a lovely cookbook, with historic photos, illustrations, and advertising images, along with short but interesting introductions to each section.
Flaky Buttery Pastry
2 1/4 cups (11 ounces) sifted all-purpose flour
3/4 tsp salt
14 Tab (1 3/4 sticks) butter, chilled and cut into pieces
1/3 cup ice water, or as needed
1. Sift the flour and salt into a mixing bowl. Cut the butter into the flour with a pastry blender until the mixture resembles coarse meal.
2. Sprinkle on the ice water a little at a time, blending it quickly into the dough by gathering up the mixture, working it lightly with your fingers, then squeezing it together. (Work fast, as the mixture must stay cold.) The dough should be soft enough to easily form into a ball. If it is not, add a little more water.
3. Form the dough into a ball. Cut it in half, and roll each half out at once on a lightly floured surface or pastry cloth. (Or cover and refrigerate until ready to use.)
4. As soon as it has been rolled out, fit the bottom crust into the pie pan. Then it can be covered and refrigerated or frozen until ready to use. Roll out the top crust, place it on a wax-paper-lined baking sheet, cover with foil, and refrigerate or freeze until ready to use.
My experience: This recipe can also be used for 2 bottom crusts.
Variation for a 1-crust pie: Use 1 cup plus 2 Tab (5 1/2 ounces) flour, a pinch of salt, 7 Tab butter, and about 1/4 cup ice water. This will give you a little extra pastry dough, but don’t try to change the proportions. Use the extra to make turnovers or toast fingers.
I had a few trimmings left over after rolling out my 2 crusts, so I popped them in the toaster oven as I started typing this up. Warm, flaky, buttery – yum! Glenn states that the butter crust is the easiest to learn, but recommends her shortening-based standard pastry recipe for rich or sweet pies – such as the pecan pie that we will be baking on Sunday. And given how rich it is, I’m sure she also would have recommended it for chocolate chip pie. Oh well, I guess I’ll ignore her advice on that point, because I just love this pastry!
By the way, the rolling pin in that photo is heritage as well – my great-grandfather made it for my maternal grandmother, as a wedding gift. My mom gave it to me when we were visiting this past Christmas, since she doesn’t use it any more. I already had two rolling pins, but given the history, I couldn’t turn down this one!
While searching the interwebs for a cookbook link (none of them show the same cover as I have!), I found this newspaper article that came out during the book tour for the cookbook. I also discovered that Camille Glenn died in January at the age of 100. God speed, Mrs Glenn – even though I ignore your advice on which crust to use in which pies, I use your recipe every time I make pie.