Standard Pie Dough
Makes enough for one 9-inch double-crusted pie or two 9-inch pie shells
Good pie dough is an exercise in balance. You want it to be flaky yet buttery, crisp yet substantial, salty yet sweet. That's a lot of requirements for one lump of dough, and this is the recipe that will deliver just what you are seeking. This dough is especially friendly to beginners.
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, chilled, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
6 tablespoons vegetable shortening, chilled, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
6 to 10 tablespoons ice water
In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, and salt until well blended and free of lumps. Add the butter and the shortening and toss gently to coat. With your fingertips, work the fats into the flour, rubbing the larger pieces of butter and shortening between your fingers until the mixture resembles gravel.
Sprinkle on the water, 1 tablespoon at a time, starting with a total of 3 tablespoons and then gradually adding more water if needed. As you add the water, blend it in with your fingertips, as quickly as possible, pulling the mixture together and creating a dough. The dough will become less sticky and more of a mass when enough water has been added. Finally, knead the dough minimally in the bowl to make sure it has just enough moisture.
Divide the dough in half. (One mound of dough should weigh approximately 10 1/2 ounces.) Place each half on a sheet of plastic wrap and seal it. Gently form each one into a disk roughly 3/4-inch thick. Place the wrapped dough in the refrigerator and leave it for at least 1 hour, or up to 2 days, before rolling it out. The dough can be frozen for up to 1 month and defrosted in the refrigerator before using.
Rhubarb, which is technically a vegetable, is so tart that without the addition of sugar, many people find it inedible. In fact, its leaves actually are toxic. Since its first cultivation in the United States in the early 1800s (though apocryphal history has it that Benjamin Franklin introduced the native Chinese plant by bringing the seeds to the East Coast in 1772), just what to do besides make a pie with this vegetable-cum-fruit has so puzzled cooks that rhubarb came to be known colloquially as "pie plant."
Rhubarb is a hardy plant that grows well even in extremely cold climates. Because of this, it is grown in abundance throughout the Midwest, where many of the best "pie plant" pie recipes hail from. Because rhubarb is so astringent, many of the recipes are laden with sugar. But I've always found rhubarb's tartness pleasing — like taking a bite from a crisp-tart apple. My recipe for this traditional double-crusted pie is still sweet, but not cloyingly so — the perfect entrance to spring.
1 recipe Standard Pie Dough
1 pound rhubarb, cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices (4 cups)
1 1/4 cups sugar
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon grated orange zest
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg, preferably freshly grated
Pinch of kosher salt 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 1/4-inch cubes
1 tablespoon heavy cream
1 tablespoon turbinado or sanding sugar
Preheat the oven to 425F.
In a large mixing bowl, combine the rhubarb, sugar, flour, orange zest, nutmeg, and salt, and toss well to coat.
On a well-floured surface, roll out one portion of the dough until it is about 1/8-inch thick and will fit a 9-inch pie plate. Gently pick up the dough, center it over the pie plate, and ease it into the plate. Let the excess dough hang over the rim. Pour in the rhubarb filling, and shake the pie plate gently to spread it out evenly. Dot the surface of the filling with the butter.
Roll out the second portion of dough to the same size. Lay the dough over the filling. Trim the edges of both layers of dough to leave a 1-inch overhang. Pressing the edges together, fold them under, and then decoratively crimp the perimeter. With a sharp knife, cut 5 vents in the top crust.
Bake the pie for 15 minutes. Then reduce the heat to 375F and continue baking for another 40 to 45 minutes, until the crust is golden brown. Allow the pie to cool to room temperature before enjoying.
Optional: For a lovely sheen on the baked pie, use a pastry brush to paint the surface with the cream. If you like, sprinkle the sugar over the cream. As the pie bakes, the sugar will caramelize, and it will crackle when you slice a wedge of the freshly baked pie.
From United States of Pie: Regional Favorites from East to West and North to South by Adrienne Kane. Copyright 2012 by Adrienne Kane. Excerpted by permission of Ecco.