• No-Fear pie crust shopping list
  • When it comes to frustration, few kitchen tasks can rival that of making pie dough. The rules are both precise (for optimal flakiness the fat must be very cold and cut into the flour just so) and maddeningly vague (recipes typically call for 4 to 6 tablespoons of ice water, or more as needed). And moving the pastry into the waiting pie plate is easier said than done. But buying a prebaked pie shell isn't the answer; these all-shortening doughs lack buttery flavor. We set out to find a pie dough that we could make without fear. Here's what we learned. shopping list
  • Test Kitchen Discoveries shopping list
  • A pat-in-the-pan pie dough is a no-fear dough because there's no need to roll it out or to transfer it to the pie plate after it's been rolled out. Conventional doughs are either too sticky or too stiff to be pressed directly into a pie plate. shopping list
  • Adding cream cheese makes pie dough easy to manipulate. In addition, both the acidity of the cream cheese and its fat promote tenderness. shopping list
  • The moisture in cream cheese replaces the traditional ice water, eliminating the guesswork about the amount to add. shopping list
  • As long as the dough is chilled when it goes into the oven, it won't shrink, so there's no need to use the pie weights usually required when baking an empty pie shell. shopping list

How to make it

  • Makes one 9-inch Pie Shell
  • The pastry can be pressed into the pie plate and refrigerated for up to 2 days or double-wrapped in plastic and frozen for up to 1 month. Once baked and cooled, the shell can be wrapped tightly in plastic and stored at room temperature for up to 1 day.
  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon table salt
  • 8 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 stick), softened but still cool
  • 2 ounces cream cheese , softened but still cool
  • 1. Lightly coat 9-inch Pyrex pie plate with cooking spray. Whisk flour, sugar, and salt together in bowl.
  • 2. With electric mixer at medium-high speed, beat butter and cream cheese in large bowl, stopping once or twice to scrape down beater and sides of bowl, until completely homogenous, about 2 minutes. Add flour mixture and combine on medium-low until mixture resembles coarse cornmeal, about 20 seconds. Scrape down sides of bowl. Increase mixer speed to medium-high and beat until dough begins to form large clumps, about 30 seconds. Reserve 3 tablespoons of dough. Turn remaining dough onto lightly floured surface, gather into ball, and flatten into 6-inch disk. Transfer disk to greased pie plate.
  • 3. Press dough evenly over bottom of pie plate toward sides, using heel of your hand. Hold plate up to light to ensure that dough is evenly distributed (see photo 1 at left). With your fingertips, continue to work dough over bottom of plate and up sides until evenly distributed.
  • 4. On floured surface, roll reserved dough into 12-inch rope. Divide into three pieces, roll each piece into 8-inch rope, and form fluted edge (photos 2 through 4). Wrap in plastic and refrigerate at least 1 hour.
  • 5. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 325 degrees. Lightly prick bottom of crust with fork. Bake until golden brown, 35 to 40 minutes. Cool on wire rack. (If large bubbles form, wait until crust is fully baked, then gently press on bubbles with kitchen towel. Bubbles will settle as crust cools.)

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