Acrophobia, claustrophobia, doughaphobia. I have successfully faced the demons of the first two phobias but am embarrassed to admit that leading into my
47th Thanksgiving, I was still doughaphobic. I’ve alluded to this debilitating anxiety in previous posts (How Did Bubbe Bake It – Part 1) and now feel that if you are all to take me seriously as a food blogger, I must face this phobia head on. But not alone. No, Cheryl Sternman Rule of the beautiful, witty, and wonderful blog 5 second rule and my very own dormant chef (aka hubby) have been right by my side either literally or figuratively. I am happy to share with you today that while I am not cured, I have faced the pie crust and did not let it crumble me.
So for all of you who dialed the emergency Marie Callender’s 911PIE number for Thanksgiving instead of creating your own pie at home, here are the top tips for pie dough novices and those suffering from an acute case of doughaphobia. If you have been asked to bake pies for Christmas and haven’t slept since the request came in, read this post. You can do it. For those of you reading this who are pie crust experts already, please just head straight to the comments section and leave us your favorite tip or words of encouragement. It’s part of our 10-step plan to beat this lingering fear.
Pie Dough for Dummies Recovery Plan:
Step One in the recovery process is to get advice from an expert so here are Cheryl Sternman Rule’s invaluable answers to my questions and top tips she shared with me:
1. Can I make the dough a day before and refrigerate it?
Cheryl says: Absolutely! You can even do what I’m going to do this year, which is make it the weekend before, roll it out, line the 9-inch glass pie plate with it (do not deviate here — make sure it’s 9-inches*, and shallow, and glass. The cheap Pyrex ones from the supermarket are fine!), then wrap it in a double layer of plastic/foil and freeze the whole crust/plate combo. I might put a piece of parchment on the dough so the foil doesn’t stick. Take it out of the freezer the night before and put the whole thing in the fridge to temper the glass so you’re not putting a rock-solid frozen pie crust and plate directly into a hot oven.
OR, just make the dough a day or two before, refrigerate it, and roll out and bake it the day you need the pies.
2. Is there a trick to getting the pie dough to cook appropriately for pumpkin pie or will it cook up fine as the filling cooks. i.e. is there any need to pre-cook the dough?
Cheryl says: Many pie crusts do have to be “blind-baked” – in other words, par-baked with nothing but heavy beans or pie weights before you add the filling. This pumpkin pie does not. To ensure a properly baked crust, bake it on the bottom rack of the oven. The lowest one! The glass pie plate ensures thorough baking, too. Do not deviate, or you will be punished. (I deviated – read on). Check the pie about 15 minutes before it’s scheduled to come out, and cover the edges with a little foil if they’re getting too dark.
3. If refrigerated overnight, how long should the dough sit out of the fridge before you roll out and how will you know if it’s too cold?
Cheryl says: If the dough is too hard to roll, it’s too hard to roll. That sounds stupid but it’s true. If I’m in a hurry, I whack it with my rolling pin to make it malleable enough to roll out, but the smarter thing to do is probably to leave it at room temp for just a few minutes. I’m guessing the whacking compresses the layers in a way that’s not optimal, but I figure, hey, I’m rolling it out anyway, how much additional harm could I really inflict?
4. Roll out your dough on a very well-floured countertop or board, then use a pastry brush to lightly brush off excess flour.
5. Invest in a bench scraper if you don’t have one. They’re cheap.
6. COURAGE! (repeat this to yourself as you make the dough)
To buy the book, click here .
Step Two in the recovery process is to give it a try yourself (repeating the word COURAGE the whole time). Here are some useful tips I learned when I made the first two batches of dough.
A doughaphobic’s top tips:
1. Cut up butter ahead of time and put in fridge so it’s ready to go. Using chopsticks to put the butter in the mixer works great if you know how to use them.
2. Have ice water ready before you start the mixer.
3. Do not take eyes off mixer once you put butter in – the transformation into pea-sized pieces happens all of a sudden – you can hear a change in the sound of the mixer as the transformation is about to happen. So stand by the mixer and watch and listen!
4. The 10 seconds in the recipe to mix in the water is very precise.
5. When you form the dough into a 5-inch disk to refrigerate, don’t work dough, just roughly form it and get it in the fridge.
I hope baring my baking sole and revealing my phobia will give more of you courage to try this yourself at home. And when you do, let me know of your success because really, if I can do it, you can too!
*Note about the the 9” cheap glass pie dish:
Turns out that it was not easy to buy the 9″ cheap Pyrex pie pans around Thanksgiving. I went to 5 stores – 2 Targets, Nob Hill, Safeway, and WalMart. All the individual glass pie plates were 9.5″. But what’s worse, is that they don’t give you the dimension for depth and there is, of course, a big difference between a 9.5 inch pie plate that is shallow or deep. So my first attempt at purchasing at Target when I was in a rush resulted in a 2-pack of 9.5″ pie dishes that are deeper than normal. So the first time we made the pumpkin pie filling to test one out, it only went halfway up the sides (and I guess we were lucky the dough fit up the sides!). Quickly, we made another half recipe of filling but obviously the cooking time totally changed.
Then I bought two more pie plates that were still 9.5 but shallower. I made another batch of dough and filled the shallower 9.5 inch pie plates – they work fine. Since Thanksgiving, I’ve seen Anchor Hocking 9” pie plates in the grocery store. So perhaps the supply is replenished but be careful what you pay for . Depth and diameter matter!