There is something to be said for the purity of making a traditional dish using only your own pluck and some elbow grease. To some, trusting delicate and temperamental pastry crust to the vagaries of an electronic appliance is tantamount to sorcery. But for those of us with slightly less patience than the purists, things like food processors can take all the guesswork out of a fluffy, flaky pie crust. Today we’re making two different pies in the food processor. The amounts for the crust below will make one pie, top and bottom (so I did this twice).
Before you go nuts with my new favourite appliance, however, there are two very important things you need to know (which I learned from The Joy of Cooking, which is where I got these recipes). The first is that your ingredients MUST be cold. Not just regular pie-making calibre cold, but ice cold. So while you’re thinking about it, cut 1 cup butter into small cubes and chuck that in the freezer.
Then sift 2 1/2 cups flour into another bowl and freeze that as well. I’m serious. Grab a pitcher of cold water as well, and huck some ice cubes into it. You’re going to need it to be super cold later on.
The second thing you need to know about making pastry in your food processor is that the PULSE button is your best friend. It may be tempting to turn the machine simply to ON and let ‘er rip, but that will give you tough, over-mixed dough. So pay attention to your ingredients and have some patience.
Oh, and another thing you should know: The Joy says that using regular granulated sugar makes the pastry sticky and hard to handle, so it’s recommended that instead you use powdered sugar (also known as castor, or superfine sugar). Rather than buy it, you can make it super easy by chucking some granulated sugar in your food processor and giving it a few turns, and you’re good to go.
So, you got all your ingredients in the freezer and your sugar is blitzed and ready to go? Let’s get started, shall we?
In the bowl of your food processor, distribute your cold flour around the blade. Add in 1 tablespoon powdered sugar and pulse for a few seconds until it’s all evenly distributed.
Drop in your cubes of frozen butter. Make sure they’re dotted all around so they don’t jam up the machine.
Pulse for 1-2 second intervals until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.
Drizzle in 1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon ice water. Pulse again at 1-2 second intervals. This is the point where, if I’m cutting the water in by hand, I’m usually tempted to add more water. I just don’t believe that it will ever come together nicely. DO NOT BE FOOLED.
Just keep pulsing, and after a minute or so, the crumbs will start to coalesce.
Don’t let the mixture become one solid lump. Stop when stuff starts to clump together.
When you can compress it into one piece with your fingers then you’re golden.
Divide your new dough roughly in half, where one piece is slightly larger than the other (the bigger piece will be on the bottom of the pie). Form the pieces of dough into flat discs, wrap them tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least an hour. If you can leave them in there overnight, then that would be super.
When you’re ready to roll them out, grab yourself two 9″ pie plates, preferably ones made of clear glass (then you can see if the bottom is cooking). Sandwich your bottom dough between two pieces of waxed paper or plastic wrap and roll it out into a large enough circle to fit in the pie plate.
Peel off one side of of the paper and flip the dough into the pan. Gently press it into all the corners and peel off the other piece of paper.
Trim the dough around the edges of the pan and then throw it back in the fridge to get hard again.
Roll out the top dough between the waxed paper and leave the paper on it before you chuck it back in the fridge.
Now you can preheat your oven to 425°F and start on your fruit. You don’t want to cut and mix your fruit too early, or the juices will all come out and that apparently is not a good thing. So basically you want to get your fruit all mixed and together no more than 15 minutes before you assemble your pie.
Strawberry Rhubarb Pie
Hull and halve 2 1/2 cups strawberries and chuck those in a bowl. Good ol’ Québec strawberries.
Wash and slice into 1″ sections another 2 1/2 cups fresh rhubarb and chuck that in the same bowl. This rhubarb comes from my mother’s garden.
Add in 1 cup granulated sugar and 1/4 cup cornstarch and give it a stir.
Let that stand for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Slice up 6 cups fresh apples into 1/4″ segments. The width of the segments apparently is key. Chuck those into a bowl as well. These apples were a gift from Mrs. Nice and come from the orchard near her house.
Add in 3/4 cup granulated sugar, 3 tablespoons flour, and 2 teaspoons cinnamon.
Give that a stir and let it stand, again, stirring occasionally, for 15 minutes.
Chuck your fruit into the pie bottom and smooth it down with a spoon. Dot the top of the fruit with 2 tablespoons butter (I forgot to do this but it was okay).
Peel one side of the top dough’s waxed paper off and flip it onto the top of the pie so it’s centred. Peel off the other piece of waxed paper. Trim and tuck the top piece around the bottom piece to create a nice seal.
Use your fingers to create a fluted edge.
Slice in some steam vents so your pie doesn’t explode.
Brush the top of the pie with cream and sprinkle on a few teaspoons granulated sugar.
Bake the pies for 30 minutes at 425°F, then reduce the heat to 350°F for a further 30 minutes. If you find that the tops are getting too brown you can cover them with aluminum foil at this point.
Remove the pie to a rack to cool completely before serving. This will enable the filling to solidify (it will shrink a bit). If you want to serve your pie warm (which, if you’re serving the apple, you probably do), then you can reheat it afterwards.
Serve with warm or cold with ice cream or whatever works for you. I love summer in Ontario.