|1942 Crisco Ad with an overcomplicated pie crust recipe|
Homemade apple pie, what can bring out colors in any patriotic American more than that? "American as Apple Pie" has been a part of the American vernacular for many years now because we have the mistaken impression that apples are an American fruit. In fact most varieties were imports from Europe that were then hybridized into new varieties by people like Thomas Jefferson.
I digress though, we're not here for the apple pie recipe (although I'll get around to one eventually). We're here for a discourse on pie crust. It's time to take those hard, insipid, gummy Pillsbury Pie crusts and tell the dough boy to shove them where the sun don't shine. Pie crust should be flaky and light not gummy and nasty. We have been led to believe that making pie crust from scratch is some kind of black magic, the practitioners thereof never releasing their secrets to a mere neophyte baker. It's kind of pathetic really, when you look at it. Ok, here's the recipe:
1 1/4C All Purpose Flour (King Arthur)
1/3 C Crisco (divided)
3T or so of COLD water
Ok first thing is first, this is the Vintage Recipe Blog not the health Nazi blog so go buy a can of Crisco shortening, 3lbs will last for awhile since were just baking with it and not deep frying. Ok you're back? Good, on with the show... Take a measuring cup and add about 6 ice cubes and 1 1/2C cold water, set aside. Sift flour and salt together into bowl, add 1/2 of Crisco and work into the flour until it feels like cornmeal. Add other half of Crisco and cut in with a knife or pastry blender whatever you have handy until you have pieces the size of beans, STOP. We want it to remain like this as much as possible because the larger clumps of shortening are what give us the flakiness. Ok, take a fork and carefully work in cold water 1T at a time until you get a shaggy ball. It will still look slightly dry but you should be able to take your hands and work it into a ball. Transfer ball to floured work surface and press down slightly. Dust top of dough with flour and start rolling it out, switch directions to get it as round as possible. Dust with more flour as necessary but don't use too much. You want the dough to be 3" wider than the pie/tart pan and around 1/8" thick. Prick the dough with a fork all over and lightly flour the pan. Transfer crust to pan and drop pan against counter a couple times to expel air from under the crust. Let sit a couple minutes to allow for shrinkage then fold edge of crust over and press with tines of fork. From this point you can pre-bake the crust for use with a cream pie or just add filling and bake per recipe. Tomorrow I'll share my quiche recipe.
Now ask yourself, was that hard? The first time you do this you'll be a little shaky. It took me 3 times to get it right but after doing it a few times and tasting the result you'll ask yourself why you ever bought that nasty pie crust in a box in the first place. As for time involved, it took me longer to write this article than it does to whip out a crust like this.
(Source the 1934 Spry cookbook "What Shall I Cook Today?" I did not use the recipe above in the Crisco ad because it was over complicating what is and should be a very simple process)