Aida shares her technique for making a perfectly flaky pie crust.
Aida Mollenkamp: Hi! I am Aida Mollenkamp and I am here to answer your cooking questions. So here is our deal, this is my buddy Noah Starr, he serves through all those questions and I hook him up with some really good eats. So we have sorted through the videos and emails and it's abundantly clear that you like making pies from scratch but have a lot of issues with it too.
Noah Starr: We have got a ton of videos on this question.
Aida Mollenkamp: I am sure.
Noah Starr: Our first one is from three lovely ladies in Portland, Oregon. And they want to learn about making pies for a specific party.
Aida Mollenkamp: Let's check it out.
Noah Starr: Here we go.
Lucy: Hi Aida! I am Lucy, and these are my friends Kaila and Dana.
Lucy: Once a month we get together and do a girl's night in. I know it sounds really, really weird but we just love pies. So if you have got a few easy recipes we can pull off in our tiny, tiny kitchen, that would be really awesome.
Aida Mollenkamp: Ladies, pie night sounds like a really good time. I wish I could be there with you. As far as making it from scratch, it's really not that hard. And of course the foundation to any great pie is the crust. Let me show you my crust, it's called perfectly flaky pie crust.
So it's about one and three quarters cup of flour.
Noah Starr: So you are using these -- scooping three parts in there?
Aida Mollenkamp: Yeah, I am. There's a lot of different methods. But it turns out most home cook use this method. We just scoop, and then sweep off the top. So that's what I use. And then two teaspoons of just granulated sugar. And then three quarters teaspoon of table salt. So just go ahead and mix it up, just kind of rake your hands on through here.
Now pie crust always seems daunting to people but it's really not. So you should try making your own because it's kind of the mark of a good baker. If you know how to have your -- you can pull pie crust out of your back pocket.
Noah Starr: We actually have a video all about flour. This is from Diana in New Jersey, and she is asking about types of flour for pies.
Aida Mollenkamp: Right, okay.
Noah Starr: So here we go.
Diana: Hi Aida! I am Diana from New Jersey. I have a question about flours. During the holidays I am trying to make fresh pies. There's so many different flours, I have no idea what type of flour I should actually be using. So Aida, can you please help me, I really want to make it fresh.
Aida Mollenkamp: A very good question. And there are all sorts of flours out there. The most common is what I am using here, all-purpose. Because it's all-purpose. What a clever name! The other more common ones are bread flour which has real nice ability to get some structure and gluten in breads. Pastry flour which is good for delicate things where you want a very tender crust. So you could be using that here. But I kind of want some structure in my pie crust, so I just use all-purpose. So that's what we are doing here.
And then we are going to add some butter to this at this point, this is actually cold, cold, cold butter.
Noah Starr: Aida, isn't there a lot of butter to add?
Aida Mollenkamp: No, it's not a lot of butter to add. I am doing about six tablespoons at this point and then I am going to do a quarter cup of shortening. A good pie crust is flaky, and the way you make a good pie crust flaky is that you keep it fat cold. That way when it gets into the oven, it gets hot, it melts, it steams, and you got all these layer upon layer of fabulousness in that pie.
So, you want to get your butter in here cold and work it as much as you need to in order to incorporate it but not anymore than that. And the reason I am starting with the butter is it takes a little bit longer and then clumps are kind of almost grape or quarter sized. We can add our shortening in now.
So shortening is also nice and cold. I actually keep my shortening in the freezer if I am going to be baking with it. And that way I know, because shortening melts a lot faster than butter, so it can go in the freezer. I am just going to work that in there. I have a few bigger pieces, I kind of like having a variety of textures in my pie. So I keep some of the pieces of fat pretty big and some really small. You mix it up, you get all kinds of different levels of flakiness. So now it's coming together in fist-sized clumps and then I am going to add my water to it.
Now be careful, once you add the water, you start working that gluten and gluten gives it a structure. But if you work it too much, you are going to get a tough dough. So this is where you just want to do only what you absolutely have to. You need about 7-8 tablespoons of ice cold water. And the reason is, of course you want to keep everything nice and cold. And the reason there might be 7-8 tablespoons, it depends on what kind of climate you live in or what the weather is like.
So now I have got visible clumps coming together. I am going to add a couple more of tablespoons. So just going to drizzle this over just until the point it's going to start coming together.
Now we are just going to shape it to a disc and then get it into the fridge. So fold this in, do a little burrito style, all my years in the Taqueria are coming out now. So we are actually going to put it in there to firm up these fats, make sure the fold is possible.
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