Monday, December 24, 2007


Let's be honest. Dough is not for everyone. Yesterday, I sat reading Nora Ephron's I Feel Bad About My Neck: And Other Thoughts on Being a Woman, and right there in the middle of the chapter What I Wish I'd Known is: There is no point in making piecrust from scratch. Now Nora Ephron is a very rich and reasonably famous woman. She wrote When Harry Met Sally and has written and directed quite a few similar movies. Perhaps for Nora Ephron there is no point in making pie crust from scratch. I mean, if I had that kind of money, I could commission pie crusts to be made for me, regular doughs, pate brisees, pate sucres, magical shrink-proof tart shells. But I am not Nora Ephron. And for me, the alternative to making my own pie crust is some the stuff I can purchase in the refrigerated section of my grocery store. And I firmly believe that I can do better than that. And you can too. And it isn't even that hard. You can skip all those new-fangled fancy recipes that invite you to spritz the crust with vodka. All you need is your mother's oldest, most well-loved cookbook. You can borrow my mother's if you like. It doesn't have a binding anymore, and I can't say as I've ever needed to make Liver Sausage Balls or Crab Spaghetti Casserole, but the Culinary Arts Institute Encyclopedic Cookbook sure knows it's dough.

adapted from pg. 565 of the 1964 edition of the Culinary Arts Institute Encyclopedia Cookbook

2 C all-purpose flour
pinch salt
2/3 C butter - chilled and sliced
4 to 6 (or more) T of ice water

Mix together the salt and flour in the bowl part of your stand mixer. Add the slices of butter and mix together until it reaches a sandy or pebbly texture. Add the water, only a small portion at a time, mixing in between until the dough holds together well. I don't measure my water anymore, just pour small bits from the pitcher. How much water you need will depend on so many factors, including the weather, that it's impossible for anyone to give you exact information on how much you'll need. So go slow (because it's harder to add flour back in, although it can be done), and when the dough becomes a nice ball, take it out of the mixer. Cut the dough in two and shape into flattened disks. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to roll out. When rolling out the dough, flour your surface well and move the dough frequently. I use 90 degree turns every few rolls to keep it from sticking, you can also flip sides.

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