my first pie crust

today i attempted pie crust for the first time!
i spent the first half of the morning procrastinating by making stock lunches for the week.
then, of course, i had to do the dishes, because who can cook in a dirty kitchen?
i deliberated most seriously over the pros of regular pie pastry versus pate sucre.
and finally, i could delay no longer.
the moment of truth had arrived.

i was working out of nigella lawson’s ‘how to eat’ and the first crisis came immediately. i had forgotten to defrost a stick of butter. yes, of course i realized that most recipes recommend freezing the little chunks of butter for a time before making it, but i was worried that they would be too frozen to properly incorporate with the flour! i settled for leaving the stick out while i cleaned the dishes and hoping for the best.

my second crisis was the matter of flour. nigella recommends italian 00, a flour i’ve been hearing much about of late but which is not easily obtained (and is backordered from king arthur’s besides). all i had was AP and i worried, would this be good enough? nevertheless i combined it with the chunks of butter and settled the bowl in the freezer whilst i prepared an egg/vanilla/sugar mixture, per ms. lawson’s instructions.

now was the time to fire up the trusty kitchenaid. had a bit of a scare when the butter didn’t incorporate as quickly as nigella suggested. i kept in my head the image of scone dough as i worked, thinking that the process seemed very similar. i held my breath and poured in the chilled egg mixture. surely that couldn’t be enough liquid! grasping at the pages of my book, i poured ice water in, “drop by precious drop,” and i fancied i began to saw some clumping action within the dough. now i worried, was it clumping too much?

when i could stand it no longer i poured the crumbling mixture onto a sheet of plastic film and left it in the fridge for 20 minutes while i recovered my breath and prepared a set of mini-tart pans (mini because i am just one person, after all, and the idea of keeping a few bits of pie crust at the ready, well-wrapped, blind-baked and frozen, is utterly appealing) to receive the dough. when i pulled it out, it looked a bit like pasta dough as it absorbs the egg and i hoped it would be as pliable.

at first i tried rolling it out, well-floured, between two sheets of wax paper. d’oh! too much flour on the sheet gave me little traction as i rolled. undaunted, i flipped it over and continued working until it seemed thin enough, and round enough, for a regular pie pan. at this point i quartered it and worked with individual slivers, rolling them out just a bit thinner and pressing them tenderly into the tart pan.

also, i nearly spilled the pie weights everywhere while i waited for the oven to preheat.
10 minutes and 400F later, i was well on my way. i fear i could not take the time to wrap bits of foil along the edges, and so i just waited for them to brown at a lower temperature as i attempted to whisk up a sort of orange curd for my inaugural treat (this, in comparison to the pie crusts, was a complete disaster).

another 10 minutes in the oven and voila--could it be? four neat little crusts. had i really made them all on my own? dare i hope that i can repeat it someday?

only time will tell...

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