Tuesday, October 7, 2008

C is for Crust

This is Part 2 of the Apple Pie Service Project series. (Click here for Part 1.) Today I will focus on making pie crust. One person can make all the crust mix you will need for twenty-two to twenty-five pies in about half an hour (excluding cleanup) if a little bit of prep is done first.

For 22-25 9-inch pies, you will need:

25 pounds all purpose flour (plus a few extra cups)
9 pounds shortening
½ cup salt (you won’t use it all)
A food processor with the knife blade installed
Large food storage bags or a plastic bucket with lid

The little bit of prep is measuring out the shortening into 1-cup portions (8 oz.), wrapping in either waxed paper or plastic wrap, and storing in a place that will stay at about 50 degrees. This is something that can be done by a mutual class. The 9 pounds of shortening should end up in 18 portions of 1 cup each.

It’s important that you DO NOT use pre-creamed shortening, and don’t use butter or margarine. Any regular shortening will do, even shortening that contains lard.
When you’re ready to mix the crust, be sure to keep your shortening cool. You don’t want it to come up to room temperature.

To mix:

Put 3 cups of flour, 1 teaspoon salt, and one portion of shortening, cut into about 6 pieces, into the food processor bowl. ( Don’t hold the shortening In your hand to cut it. You don’t want the heat of your hand to bring up the temperature of the shortening).

Hit the pulse button about 15 times and check.

What you want to see is the flour change to a beige color, take on the texture of cornmeal and fluffily stack up on the side of the processor bowl just a little bit.

What you DON’T want is for the flour to take on a greasy appearance and stack more firmly up against the side of the bowl. This is the reason you use the pulse, because the mix can change from pie crust to shortbread in just a couple of seconds. You want the integrity of the shortening to be maintained. You want to end up with a million tiny beads of pure shortening, each covered with flour, rather than a new substance made of flour saturated with shortening. (This is a great Young Women’s lesson on integrity.)

One batch that is a little more like shortbread in a bucket of pie crust mix won’t matter. You’ll get the hang of it. If 15 pulses doesn’t get you what you want, then do 5 more. The last batch I did took 25 pulses. The temperature of your shortening makes a lot of difference.

When your crust is done, pour it into the storage container. You can put it in ziplock bags and store in a cool place until you’re ready to roll out the crusts. Or, you can use a white 5 gallon bucket with a secure lid.

Repeat the steps over and over until you’ve used all your shortening. That’s all there is to it.

In Part 3, I’ll talk about adding water, mixing the crust, and rolling out.

Return to the Neighborhood

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