Spiker's Pie Pastry (makes 2 1-crust, or 1 2-crust pie--9")
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3-3/4 c. flour
1 T sugar
1 t salt*
1-1/2 c. fats**
Mix together with pastry cutter, fork, or fingers until crumbly.
1/2 c. cold water***
1 egg white
Pour gradually into crust, mixing as you go. Use only enough to make dough stick together.
On floured surface, roll the crust out to about 1/8 in. thick and transfer to pie pan.
If you need to prebake the crust, poke holes in bottom and sides with a fork, line with foil, and pour in pie weights, making sure they cover bottom all the way to the sides. Bake at 425 for 15 min., then remove foil and weights and bake for another 10 minutes (or until crust has color you prefer). Note: some sources recommend refrigerating the dough in the pan for 20-30 minutes before baking in order to prevent shrinking. I have yet to determine the effectiveness of this.
If making a top crust, cut venting holes (decorative, if you like) before transferring over the filling. Use egg wash (1 egg yolk and 1 T heavy cream whisked together) along edge of bottom crust to help top crust to stick to bottom. For a particularly shiny golden crust, use this same egg wash all over top crust and sprinkle with sanding sugar.
* Re: salt--if you are using this crust for a savory pie or a pie that has any salty ingredients (i.e., using gruyere in the crust), don't use any additional salt.**Re: fats--for a particularly flaky crust (and if you're not vegetarian), use lard for 1/4 c. of your fats. The other 1-1/4 c. of fats can be a combination of salted and unsalted butter. For fruit pies that have no salty ingredients, I use 1 c. salted butter and 1/4 c. unsalted. For savory pies, I use 3/4 c. unsalted butter and 1/2 c. salted. The fats should be somewhere between refrigerator temperature and room temperature. Straight out of the refrigerator and I find it's too difficult to cut them in completely. Too warm and the dough comes together too quickly, but will never get past crumbly. A lot of pastry recipes specify using cold fats and chilling the dough before rolling it out. I find this to be counter-productive to maintaining the flexibility of the dough.
***For an even more flaky crust, substitute ½ of the water with vodka. The alcohol evaporates during baking and doesn’t leave an aftertaste. Unlike water, the vodka will not combine with flour to produce gluten, which can make the crust tough.