Any day of the year, but especially during the lazy, carefree days of summer, there’s nothing nearly as wonderful as a gorgeously made pie. Give us your apple, your chocolate, your blackberry, and key lime. We’ll take all of the peach and lemon meringue, too. But our personal favorite is good old-fashioned cherry, complete with a flakey, buttery crisp crust. The only problem? That perfect crust can be awfully tricky to master, and a lackluster pie crust can all but ruin this favorite summertime dessert. So we’ve turned to ChefSteps’ YouTube page to help us create the perfect pie crust.
The video opens with ChefSteps’ Grant Crilly discussing the differences between “regular” cherry pie and ChefSteps’ Ultimate cherry pie. He goes on to list the all-too-often gripes one can have with cherry pie, including an underbaked, soggy crust and overcooked, cloyingly sweet-tasting filling. He then describes the regular pie’s crust as having a soft, doughy texture, which is never appetizing. But then he digs into the Ultimate pie, the obvious superior, describing its flakiness, dark golden brown color, and perfect texture and flavor.
While the video is an incredible tutorial on making the Ultimate Cherry Pie as a whole, we’d like to draw attention to the making of the pie crust specifically, as that seems to be where most home cooks (and even professional Chefs) can run into issues.
Not all crusts are created equal
Chef Matthew Woolen begins the lesson by explaining the texture of the pie dough should depend on the kind of pie you’re making. A mealy crust is preferred for this cherry pie as it will stand up to the heavily liquid cherry filling better than a lighter, more delicate crust. This texture is achieved by processing the bits of butter into small pieces instead of larger pieces of butter which would provide more flaking.
Keep it cold
The key to a good pie crust is to keep all of the ingredients chilled throughout the entire process, from mixing to baking. When incorporating butter into your dough, be sure it’s chilled. The water that’s used should be ice water. And once the dough has come together, don’t skip the refrigeration process. The dough always needs to remain cool to achieve a light texture.
Mix, don’t knead
Another key to a good pie crust is to avoid over-mixing. Once your mixture is combined, press it together on a clean surface, working quickly so that the warmth of your hands doesn’t warm the dough. Carefully layer and mix the dough, forming it into a log before dividing it into two pieces.
Pans are important
Chef Woolen recommends always using a metal pan as heat will not transfer as well in glass or ceramic.
Roll with it
Once the disks are removed from the fridge and unwrapped, start by pressing the dough down around the outer edge to form a circle. Repeat this step on both sides. This helps to both shape and soften the dough before rolling it out.
To form a circle shape, always roll in an up-and-down motion, rotating with 45-degree turns, flouring your surface as needed to prevent sticking.
Shaping the dough
Once the dough is rolled out, you can achieve a perfect circle for the top crust by placing a bowl atop the dough and cutting around the edge with a sharp knife or pizza cutter.
Place the bottom crust into the pan, pressing gently and evenly to get the dough into the bottom edge of the pan.
Once the dough has been chilled again and the filling is ready, trim away the excess dough, keeping it flush with the pie pan’s rim. Lightly brush the outer edge with egg wash, taking care not to over-wash as the dough can become slippery.
Pour in the filling, then top with the upper layer of dough. Working carefully, lift both edges of the dough together, then tuck the top layer underneath the bottom layer all around the outer edge. Double-check that the pie is completely sealed before forming the dough into a peak.
To crimp the outer edge, pinch the dough into shape by pushing the dough inward with your thumb while simultaneously pushing back with the thumb and forefinger of your other hand.
Be sure to score the top layer of dough by cutting slits in the top. This provides an escape for steam and, if not done properly, may cause a pie explosion.
Garnish with sugar, taking care to get into all of the nooks and crannies of your pie dough.
To prevent burning the outer rim of your pie crust, it’s best to cover it by making a foil shield that wraps around the outer edge of the pie. This should be removed about a third of the way through the baking process.
- 14.1 ounces of bread flour
- 8.8 ounces cold, unsalted butter, cut into cubes
- 0.35 ounces Kosher salt
- 5.6 ounces of ice water
Mix flour, butter, and salt in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse until butter is broken up into small pieces and the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.
- Add water to the food processor, pouring around the edges of the bowl. Pulse until water is absorbed.
- Transfer the mixture to a clean work surface, pressing together to form a dough. Use a bench scraper to fold the dough over itself three times. Shape the dough into a rough 4-inch by 8-inch log.
- Divide the dough into two equal portions, then shape each portion into a disk.
- Wrap each disk tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 4 hours and up to 4 days.
- When ready to use, roll disks into two 14-inch circles, then refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before filling and baking.
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