Monday, November 26, 2012

Pie Dough & Donkey-Booses

Holiday Pies.
One of my favorite family traditions during the holidays is having the annual "Pie Pantry" at my parent's house during the Thanksgiving break. There are 6 children in my family and we all bring our favorite pie (or two), my parents make their favorites and we put them all together and so that there is a plentiful selection to choose from. Since we have so many pies, we get to enjoy them on Thanksgiving and during the break when we all get together to play board games as a family. It's one of my favorite traditions. And it's so yummy to have such tasty pies to enjoy together.

I'll be honest. Making a homemade pie crust was super intimidating to me. I usually chose to make a pie that had a graham cracker crust because making homemade pastry dough never really worked out for me. My mom makes fantastic pies and her crust is amazing. It's always super flaky and buttery. I went on a quest to make a pie like hers.

This summer I had a bunch of cherries and peaches that I wanted to make something with and my mom suggested making freezer pie filling. She came over and helped me prepare all of my pie fillings and she taught me how to make her pie crust. (As a side note: if any of you have family members that you enjoy learning how to bake or cook from, take the time to do it. Life is too short and you will treasure the time spent together.) It was so fun to be in the kitchen together and having her teach me. She is one talented lady. I hope my skills are that honed when I'm older.

So I'm going to share her amazing pie crust recipe with you. It's a pretty easy to make, but give yourself a batch to learn on. My biggest challenge making it for the first time was getting the liquid right because each brand of flour seems to have different moisture contents, so you have to learn how the dough is suppose to look and feel. Don't worry though, it's pretty basic. You can use this for pies or even for homemade chicken pot pie. Once you make your own, you won't want to go back to store-bought dough. This is super delish!

This recipe makes (5) double-crust pie shells as well as (2) single shells. I usually don't bake that many pies at a time, so I usually make 1/3 of the recipe which makes (1) double crust pie, (1) single shell and some leftovers. Here's what you need:
-6 C unbleached flour
-3 C butter-flavored Crisco
-3 tsp. salt
-1 1/2 C cold water

A little note about measuring flour: scoop the flour with a spoon and lightly put it into your measuring cup. When it is full, take the back of a butter knife and slide it on top of your measuring cup to make it even and flat. This will ensure a proper measure.

Put flour, shortening and salt into a large mixing bowl. Mix together with your fingers (or a pastry cutter if you prefer) until it resembles a crumb mixture. 

You want pea-sized crumbs or smaller

Add cold water a little at a time until your mixture is moist and can be formed into a ball. Try not to work the dough too much. Mix just enough to form into a ball.

Formed Dough

Roll out a portion of dough into a large circle on a floured surface. Roll dough to be about 1/8" thick. Place dough over your pie dish. Press dough into pie dish, get out any air bubbles and cut off any excess dough with a butter knife.

You can leave the edge as-is, but I think it looks pretty to scallop the edge. I did this edge by pinching by thumb and pointer finger of my right hand while pushing the dough with my left pointer finger. If I make a double-crust pie, I make my decorative edge and then wisk an egg and apply to top crust with a pastry brush and then sprinkle with sugar. This makes a very beautiful golden and crispy crust.

Decorative Edge

I also used some of the extra dough to make a mini-pie for my daughter. She had lots of fun helping and I think she felt very proud to have her very own pie that she helped make. I love it too because all of the little mini pans we use in the kitchen were mine that I used when I helped my mom. It was fun to see them go full circle. 

My little helper. She was enthralled with the flour.

Bake filled pies at 375 degrees on lowest or second lowest oven rack for about an hour or per recipe. Keep an eye on your pie edges to ensure they don't brown too much before your pie is done. You can place some foil around your edges and remove them about half-way through baking time, but I usually don't have a problem with them over-browning. 

Pre-baked pie shells: Make sure to poke holes with a fork in the bottom of your pie dish before baking. Bake at 375 degrees for about 8-10 minutes. Cool completely and fill.

Enjoy and Happy Baking. Imagine bringing homemade pies to Thanksgiving or Christmas parties. You will look like such a Domestic Goddess (or Domestic God for all of my male followers). :)

What is a Donkey-Boose, you say? Well, when I was little and I'd help my mom make pies any extra dough was rolled out into a circle, cut into strips and sprinkled with cinnamon sugar and baked. It was one of my favorite things to look forward to after all that hard work in the kitchen. I don't know why they are Donkey-Booses, but they are. My mom called them that and her mother and her mother's mother. I guess it's just a generational made-up name that stuck.

So take remaining pie crust dough, roll into a circle and cut with a pizza roller. Put parchment paper on a cookie sheet and place pie crust on top of parchment paper. 

Poke holes with the back of a fork.

Donkey Booses

Sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar. For these I used cinnamon and vanilla sugar

Yummy vanilla sugar

Bake at 375 degrees for about 8-10 or until golden brown. Enjoy them warm with some milk. They are yummy and remind me of being a kid. Enjoy and happy baking!

Can you see those awesome specks of vanilla bean? Yum.

Pie Dough
Makes (5) double-crusts and (2) single crusts

6 C unbleached flour
3 C butter-flavored Crisco
3 tsp. salt
1 1/2 C cold water

Place flour, shortening and salt into a large mixing bowl. Mix with your hands until it resembles a crumb mixture. Slowly add cold water and mix until a ball is formed. Take a portion of dough and roll into a large circle about 1/8" thick. Place into pie dish and form. If making a double-crust pie, fill and repeat with top crust. Cut off any excess dough and  make any decorative edge that you prefer. Wisk an egg until well-beaten and use a pastry brush to apply to your top crust. Sprinkle with sugar. Bake filled pies at 375 degrees  on lowest oven rack for about 1 hour or per recipe. Pre-baked crusts: Poke holes with a fork in crust prior to baking. Bake at 375 degrees for about 8-10 minutes.

To make Donkey-Booses, roll out dough and cut into strips with a pizza roller. Place on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar (or vanilla sugar) and bake at 375 degrees for 8-10 minutes or until golden brown.

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