Piecrust Disaster A la Mode!


The only aspect of the baking world that I find more intimidating than bread is piecrust. Pies aren’t my favorite dessert but I feel a strange need to master this skill. Perfectionism at it’s worst. I was planning to make a beautiful apple pie from the original Joy of Cooking and I wanted to try a piecrust recipe from a heritage cookbook but I needed one that came with step-by-step instructions for the piecrust inept.

So, I chose a recipe from the Buerrista Blog found via Tracey’s Culinary Adventures (a favorite blog of mine!) because Tracey’s pies looked to be perfection incarnate. I placed all my ingredients in the refrigerator including the flour and hoped for the best. Hope is not a strategy.

Flaky Pie Dough

  • 2 ¾ cups all-purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 5 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into ½-inch pieces
  • ½ cup plus 2 tablespoons cold vegetable shortening
  • 6 to 8 tablespoons of ice water

The recipe should have been simple. Sift flour and mix with salt. Drop small chunks of butter into flour and mix with a pastry blender (the special fork-like apparatus). Then add shortening in small scoops. Mix until the pieces of shortening and butter are pea-sized. Make a little well in the center of the dough and add half the water (3T).

Blend with fork by bringing the sides into the well. Added half of the remaining water (2T) and blend with fork. The dough is apparently done when it holds together when squeezed into a ball. I thought mine was done, so I dumped it out onto my lightly floured work surface. Not so! Back into the bowl for more water. I added an additional 2 T of water and mixed as above. Back onto the (re)floured work surface. It held together well so I divided the dough into two balls, flattened them, wrapped them in plastic wrap and refrigerated them for an hour.

My tragic attempt to roll out the first crust per the Beurrista’s instructions ended in a misshapen piece of flattened dough that resembled Africa. I am not even going to show you a picture – it is that embarrassing. But, ever the optimist, I thought to myself, “No worries! You can make a pumpkin pie because that only requires one crust and this strange shape of dough can be used to make adorable cutouts for the top! “

Reinvigorated I retrieved the second disk from the refrigerator. Alas, last night was not the night for success. It rolled out more or less in the shape of a circle but the edges cracked beyond repair. The dough looked perfectly marbled and I was curious to see how it would bake (and I desperately needed dessert after this disaster), so I improvised and made a cinnamon-sugar pizza!

  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 1/8 t (rounded) Saigon cinnamon
  • 2 T butter (melted)
  • 1 tragic piecrust
  • Vanilla ice cream for serving

Preheat the oven to 375° (convection). Transfer the failed piecrust to parchment-covered baking sheet. Brush melted butter on crust like you would put sauce on a pizza. Sprinkle cinnamon-sugar mixture generously onto piecrust. Bake for 15-18 minutes until the edges are golden brown and the crust is firm to the touch.

It tasted amazing, and, while this certainly will never be the goal of my future piecrust attempts, it was nice that the crust didn’t go to waste. Soon I will bring you another attempt at a beautiful apple pie!


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