It was Warren Brown’s love of apple pie as a child that sparked his interest in baking—and now, as the founder of CakeLove bakeries, he’s delighted countless customers with his pie creations. In this book, he answers baker’s questions about making the perfect pie and includes recipes that range from sweet to savory.
Mixing recipes for traditional fillings with fun, unique takes—blueberry maple pie, mango and strawberry tart, apple lasagna, shroom-ikopita, chicken potpie, Jamaican beef patties, and much more—PieLove also covers piecrusts and cream pies, for a wide range of delicious meal and dessert options.
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About the Author
Read an Excerpt
For a lot of people, a pie is all about the crust. Baking a pie usually begins with making dough, which ultimately, of course, becomes the crust. But that makes me wonder: When does dough become crust? Once it's no longer soft, but instead crusty? If that makes sense, then why don't we describe piecrust as "crusty" instead of "flaky"? After all, we don't call it pieflake. I like crusty edges on a lot of foods, such as pizzas, pound cakes, and scones, but I especially like crusty piecrust. Please read this tutorial on making dough all the way through for my hints on how to make it crusty!
MAKING PIE DOUGH
Making pie dough is not nearly as difficult as I once thought. Even after I opened CakeLove, I was intimidated by the process, and as a result, we didn't carry pies for years. But, as with most fears in life, eventually you have to face them. So I did, and here are a few of the lessons I learned.
Making crust by hand is entirely possible, but difficult and tiring. I highly recommend investing in a food processor or standing mixer to achieve results that you can enjoy without cramping forearms. My instructions are not based on mixing by hand.
Piecrust comes together very quickly. The ratios of the ingredients are, of course, critical, but effectively blending them depends on proper prep. One thing I realized is that it's not just about the weight of the flour, it's also about the size of the butter chunks. A ¼- to ½ inch dice will incorporate faster and much better than a tablespoon-size or larger hunk of butter. So cut the butter smaller — even if you're scaling up the recipe for multiple crusts. Unlike with cakes, I don't bother to sift the flour. A crust should be dense, and the processor will break the flour up enough for that. Stir to blend the flour, sugar, spices, and salt in a bowl or blend them with the steel blade in a processor or flat paddle in a mixer. Add the butter to the work bowl all at once. Dropping it in a little at a time just allows some of the butter to work too far into the flour. With the processor, pulse for brief bursts, 3 to 5 seconds at a time. With the mixer, lock down the tilt head and mix on low speed. Mixers will take longer — up to 1 minute — to crumble the butter sufficiently and change the flour mix into a coarse-looking meal. Don't fully blend in the butter; keep some large chunks, as this will create pockets of crunch and crispiness during baking.
Don't get distracted during this next, important step: Slowly drizzle ice water in a thin, steady stream into the work bowl while pulsing the processor or turning the mixer off and on. Get the water into the dough quickly, but without rushing. Try to keep to the specified amounts, adding 1 extra tablespoon if you're using a mixer. The water takes time to expand into the flour's starch, transforming the crumbly looking meal into dough.
The dough will come to life. It will come off the sides of the work bowl and ride on top of the steel blade or stick to the flat paddle. It will be lightly tacky and stick to itself but, thankfully, not much else. Divide the dough — generally I use two thirds for the bottom and one third for the top crust.
I normally bake with pans that are about 1 ½ inches deep. If you're working with a deep dish pan, which will measure about 2 inches in depth, you will need to increase the amount of filling by half; the dough recipe need not be changed, although the crusts will need to be rolled thinner. You can wrap each piece in plastic film and hold them in the fridge for up to 7 days, or in the freezer for several months, or roll them out right away.
The crust demonstrated here is the Flaky Butter Crust. It's a very clean crust that is easy to use. It's a bit wet, but not sticky, and is ideal for handling. I like to use parchment paper in my kitchen and roll out the dough between two sheets. A very light dusting of flour helps prevent sticking, but go light. Dumping flour on the counter makes for messy cleanup.
Unless the dough is losing shape and sticking to surfaces, it's not necessary to chill it before rolling it out. Plus, when it's cold, it's very difficult to crimp without breaking. I move right from making the dough to rolling it out and crimping. When I do chill it, I wait until after crimping so the egg wash won't break the crimped edges. One benefit to chilling the rolled-out crust is that cold butter bakes off better when introduced into a hot oven.
If you're making a standard-size pie, begin with two sheets of parchment large enough to allow for a 10- to 11-inch circle of dough. Firmly shape the dough ball for the bottom crust into a 1-inch-thick disk. Smooth out the edges and any cracks by gently pressing the dough together.
Handle the dough as little as possible to prevent unnecessary development of the gluten and to avoid warming the butter with your hands. Lightly dry brush or dust the disk with flour and place it in the middle of one sheet of parchment. Cover it with the other sheet and begin rolling with the pin.
Rolling out the dough to form a perfect circle takes practice, but a few things help. Imagine that the disk is the face of a clock and your rolling pin is at rest in the center. Roll away from your body toward twelve o'clock, all the way off the edge of the dough. Turn the entire sandwich of parchment and dough about 5 minutes in either direction and do the same thing again. Always roll directly away from your body, toward twelve o'clock. The small turns between each roll help ensure a uniform spread of the dough. Eliminating the cracks in the disk's edge before rolling it out helps reduce the chances you'll end up with a jagged edge, too.
After one full rotation of the dough round, flip it and lift it off the bottom paper to release any creases in the parchment, which interfere with spreading. Lightly dust with flour and repeat. Size up the dough with the pan: The crust should extend 1 to 2 inches beyond the rim.
Remove both pieces of parchment and gently transfer the dough to the pan. The dough is sturdy and won't tear easily, as long as it's not too thin. You can also consider transferring it with the parchment still attached on the top. This makes the transfer easier, but removing the paper can be a little tricky once the dough begins to droop into the pan. Trim the edges, if necessary.
Forming the edge of a piecrust is a matter of style and taste. I like to keep it rustic and simple with a finger roll or simply mash it with a fork.
If you're blind baking the crust: Dock the dough — prick the dough on the bottom of the pan all over with a fork — before placing the parchment paper and disposable pie pan on top.
To blind bake the crust, line the bottom with a round of parchment paper cut to size and a disposable pie pan placed on top.
If you'll be filling and baking the whole pie later, partially bake the crust in a 375°F oven for 5 to 7 minutes or until the pastry toasts to a light brown color. If you'll be using a filling that doesn't require baking, you will fully bake the crust now; this generally takes 10 to 12 minutes. Set the crust aside to cool, then remove the disposable pie pan and parchment paper.
Once the pie is filled with your choice of an exciting filling, it's time to proceed with the top crust.
TOP CRUST STYLES
Crumb topping: There's nothing wrong with a simple crumble sprinkled across the top (see the Dutch Crumb Topping). You'll pulse together a mixture of ingredients — nearly always some combination of butter, sugar, flour, and spices. Then just sprinkle the mixture liberally across the top to a depth of about ½ inch, or more if you like.
Traditional top crust with steam vents: Simply roll out the dough reserved for a top crust to a depth of about 1/8 to ¼ inch to make a round that matches the size of the pie pan and lay it across the top. Be sure the crust doesn't get too thin, or it will break when you brush it with the egg wash or during baking. Using your fingers, gently press the perimeter of the top crust into the crimped edge of the bottom crust. Some gaps are fine, but try to keep them to a minimum and no larger than 1/8 inch. Gently cut three to five steam vents in the center of the pie in a decorative manner.
Traditional top crust with decorations: Adding decorative accent pieces with leftover crust is a nice way to jazz up the presentation of your work of art! Just cover the pie with the top crust. Then use a cookie cutter or paring knife and press out fun complete or partial shapes from rerolled scraps. Apply the same egg wash, but then dredge or sprinkle the shapes heavily with sugar or spices to create a contrasting color with the rest of the dough.
Lattice top: Making a lattice top for a pie is not as difficult as it appears, but it does take practice.
FORMING A LATTICE CRUST
1. Roll out the top crust.
2. Using the rolling pin as a straight edge, cut the dough into strips, keeping the width consistent.
3. Transfer every other strip to the pie, placing them equal distances apart.
4. Fold back every other strip and place a new strip perpendicular to the folded ones.
5. Return all the folded strips to their original position and then fold back the alternate strips.
6. Repeat step 4.
7. Continue in this way until the lattice is complete.
MAKING THE CRUST CRUSTY: THE EGG WASH
After you've completed all the work of putting your pie together, the last stop is dressing it up so it'll get nice and golden on the outside and crisp and crusty to the bite. Blend an egg with a splash (less than ¼ teaspoon) of vanilla extract or any liqueur that you prefer and dab the mixture onto the edges and top using a pastry brush.
Sprinkle on a dusting of granulated sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, or any other aromatic spice for color.
#1 RECOMMENDED CRUST FOR THIS BOOK
flaky BUTTER CRUST
This crust is reliable, easy to work with, and delicious. The ratio of butter to flour and water makes it a dense but very flaky crust. I also like it because there's nothing particularly tricky about making this dough. It's my default crust and can be used for any recipe in this book.
Unbleached all-purpose flour 2 cups (10 ounces)
Superfine granulated sugar 1 teaspoon Sea salt ½ teaspoon Unsalted butter, very cold ¾ cup (1 ½ sticks), cut into small pieces Ice water 3 tablespoons Egg wash of choice or as specified in recipe
MAKES 18 OUNCES, ENOUGH FOR ONE 9- TO 10-INCH DOUBLE-CRUST PIE
1. Preheat the oven to 375°F.
2. Add the flour, sugar, and salt to the work bowl of a food processor and run it for at least 30 seconds.
3. Stop the processor and add the butter all at once.
4. Pulse in the butter until the mixture resembles fine crumbs; pulse in the water, 1 tablespoon at a time, until the dough comes together and rides on top of the S blade.
5. Turn the dough out onto lightly floured parchment, remove one third of it, and wrap it in plastic film to keep it from drying out. If you're not making a double-crust pie, hold this dough in the fridge or freezer for another use.
6. Shape the remaining dough into a disk, place a second sheet of parchment on top, and roll it out into a large round, approximately 12 inches in diameter and ? inch thick.
7. Gently fit the dough into a 9- to 10-inch pie pan, fold the excess to form the edge, and crimp. Chill the crust for 15 to 30 minutes. Meanwhile, if you are making a double crust pie, roll out the reserved dough between two sheets of parchment to a round approximately 10 inches across. Set it aside, keeping it between the parchment sheets to prevent it from drying out.
8. Brush the bottom crust edges with egg wash.
9. Dock the crust and weight it with a circle of parchment paper cut to size and a disposable pie pan resting gently above the pastry to prevent it from puffing up while toasting. If your pie filling will be baked, blind bake the crust for 5 to 7 minutes. If you'll be using the crust for a custard pie where baking isn't required, blind bake for 10 to 12 minutes — checking often after 10 minutes.
10. Set the blind-baked crust aside to cool while you prepare the filling of your choice. Top and finish the pie as desired or as directed in your recipe.
The traditional ratios for flour to butter to water for pie crusts is 3:2:1. This will result in a very buttery crust, which is usually wonderful, but can get a little soggy if mixed incorrectly. Be sure the butter is very cold. The ratios are always easy to remember and the dough is a cinch to mix.
Unbleached all-purpose flour 2 ½ cups (12 ounces)
Sea salt ½ teaspoon Unsalted butter, very cold 8 ounces, cut into small pieces Water 4 tablespoons, very cold Follow the same method as the Flaky Butter Crust.
A hint of cinnamon makes this a nice option for apple pie, but this crust is versatile enough for any sweet pie. The spice has a very subtle presence — in fact, some say they don't even notice it. That's probably true, but I like the idea of added cinnamon, and it gives a bit of color while the flour is mixing, which helps you to know that the dry mix is well blended before you add the butter.
This is a sturdy crust that is very easy to roll out and crimp, but it's a bit wet and will feel a tad odd to experienced bakers. The full amount of water called for will usually be necessary. Start by adding 1 tablespoon at a time, up to 5 tablespoons; dry days or climates may call for the sixth.
Unbleached all-purpose flour 2 cups (10 ounces)
Superfine granulated sugar 3 tablespoons Cinnamon ½ teaspoon Sea salt 1 teaspoon Unsalted butter, very cold 10 tablespoons (1 ¼ sticks), cut into small pieces Ice water 5 to 6 tablespoons
MAKES 18 OUNCES, ENOUGH FOR ONE 9- TO 10-INCH DOUBLE-CRUST PIE
1. Preheat the oven to 375°F. Lightly grease a 9- to 10-inch pie pan with butter and lightly sprinkle it with sugar.
2. Add the flour, sugar, cinnamon, and salt to the work bowl of a food processor and mix for at least 30 seconds.
3. Stop the processor and add the butter all at once.
4. Pulse in the butter until the mixture resembles fine crumbs; pulse in the water, 1 tablespoon at a time, until the dough forms into a ball and rides on top of the S blade.
5. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured piece of parchment. Set aside one third of the dough. If you're not making a double-crust pie, wrap it in plastic film and freeze or refrigerate it for another use.
6. Form the remaining dough into a disk, place a second piece of parchment on top, and roll it into a large round about 12 inches in diameter and ? inch thick.
7. Gently fit the rolled dough into the pie pan, fold the excess underneath, crimp the edge, and chill the crust for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, if you are making a double-crust pie, roll out the reserved dough between two sheets of parchment to a round approximately 10 inches across. Set it aside, keeping it between the parchment sheets to prevent it from drying out.
8. Dock the bottom crust and cover it with a circle of parchment paper cut to size and a disposable pie pan resting gently above the crust to prevent it from puffing up while toasting. If your pie filling will be baked, blind bake the crust for 5 to 7 minutes. If you'll be using the crust for a custard pie where baking isn't required, blind bake it for 12 to 15 minutes — checking often after 10 minutes.
9. Set the blind-baked crust aside to cool while you prepare the filling of your choice. Top it as desired and bake it as directed in your recipe.
It takes 1 ½ to 2 ounces of dough to make a 1-cup mini pie; a typical large ramekin is the perfect size for this. Mini pies make a great presentation — and it's a windfall for anyone who loves crust! You can use any dough, but Flaky Butter Crust works particularly well.
Roll out the dough on very lightly floured parchment to make a round large enough to line the ramekin. Place the ramekin on the dough, slide your hand under the parchment, and invert the round so that it falls into the ramekin. Gently tuck the dough into place with your fingers. Scoop in the filling to the brim and decoratively crimp the edges, adding a top crust if you wish. Brush on egg wash, sprinkle the little pie with sugar, and place it on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake at 375°F for 15 to 20 minutes until the juices bubble and the top is golden brown. Allow the mini pies to rest for 15 to 20 minutes before serving.
über BUTTER CRUST
Much more butter relative to the flour and water make this a heavier crust with much more flakiness. It's more difficult to handle and roll out due to the overall dryness of the dough, but it performs well when baked and has an undeniable buttery flavor. Be prepared to use a fair amount of flour when rolling out and move gingerly when transferring to the pie pan or the dough will easily tear.
In order to get even greater flakiness from the crust, I rolled it out, then folded it back onto itself and rolled it out again — in the spirit of croissants. The result was nice large, flaky sheets of crust in each slice.
Unbleached all-purpose flour 1 2/3 cups (8 ounces)
Superfine granulated sugar 4 tablespoons (2 ounces)
Sea salt 1 pinch Unsalted butter, very cold ¾ cup (1 ½ sticks), cut into small pieces Ice water 1 ½ tablespoons
MAKES 16 OUNCES, ENOUGH FOR ONE 9- TO 10-INCH DOUBLE-CRUST PIE
In a food processor, pulse the flour, sugar, salt, and butter to blend, then drizzle in the water and pulse until it comes together. Wrap in plastic film and let rest in the fridge for 30 minutes, or store in the freezer for up to 2 weeks. Roll out and blind bake as with the Cinnamon-Butter Piecrust, using care not to roll too thin.(Continues…)
Excerpted from "Pie Love"
Copyright © 2013 Warren Brown.
Excerpted by permission of Abrams Books.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
Introduction: Enter the Pie,
The Basics of Pie: Ingredients and Equipment,
What Goes on in a Pie?,
CHAPTER ONE PIECRUSTS,
CHAPTER TWO SWEET PIE FILINGS,
CHAPTER THREE TART CRUSTS,
CHAPTER FOUR SWEET TARTS,
CHAPTER FIVE SAVORY PIES,
Index of Searchable Terms,
About the Author,