Fibonacci spiral illustrating the "Golden Ratio"
Anyone who has studied mathematics or art has undoubtedly come across the "Golden Ratio". In our house, it refers to the ratio of pie to pie crust. LOL My dad swears by it. For years I didn't believe him until I made a strawberry rhubarb pie that called for eight cups of fruit. Go big or go home I thought but I have to admit, I didn't really like it. Too much fruit to crust, just like Dad always said, who knew?
I have several pie crust recipes but this one is my "go to" one and the one I believe most of my relatives use. It is copied directly from the Tenderflake lard box years ago and has never failed me yet. It is simple to make, makes a lot and freezes well, all good in my book.
1 pound cold shortening, lard or vegetable, cut into pieces, about 1” -2”cubes
5 1/2 -6 cups of flour
1 tablespoon of vinegar
In a small bowl, whisk together egg and vinegar. Pour into 1 cup measuring cup and add water to make 1 cup of liquid. This is your binder for the dough.
In the bowl of your food processor, combine flour and pieces of shortening. Pulse until it reaches the consistency of coarse corn meal, you should still see little pieces of shortening.
Gradually add egg mixture while continuing to pulse, until the dough gathers up into a ball.
Chill about half an hour to make it easier to work with.
That's it, you have enough pie dough for three double crusts or six singles with a little left over to decorate with. Any left over you can freeze for up to six months or more, mine never lasts that long. This is my go to recipe because I can use it for sweet and savoury fillings, no fussing around with the million and one other specialty crusts. I do have them, I just don't make them very often.
If you don't have a food processor you can always use a pastry cutter or a fork and do it by hand in a large bowl. I did it that way for years but like the convenience of the food processor.
The secret to good pie crust is all in the handling. The more you work with it the tougher the gluten becomes. This is what makes a tough, impossible to cut through crust. There are two areas where people over work the dough, in the initial mixing and rolling it out.
Mix until it is combined and stop. That's why you use the pulse setting. It literally takes only a minute or two. Don't worry about a few larger pieces of shortening, they will be worked out in the rolling. The same thing goes when you are adding the binder. When it gathers into a ball, stop.
When you are rolling out the dough, start from the middle and work out. Don't roll back and forth across the whole surface of the dough. If your crust starts to pull back a lot while you are rolling it out, you have over worked it. The gluten has toughened making the dough elastic. There is no fix, just adjust your technique next time.
I roll my crust out on a floured pasrty board, with a floured rolling pin. I have read about doing it between sheets of waxed paper or plastic wrap to prevent sticking but it has never been a problem for me so...
The other methods seem like too much fuss. An empty wine bottle works as a substitute rolling pin if you find yourself short. Believe it or not I did somehow manage to lose my rolling pin.
After all the caution about over working the dough, I find when using vegetable shortening I have to work the dough a little longer to toughen it up a bit so I can work with it. D**m vegetarians and no animal products. LOL
For the butterscotch pie you need a pre baked or blind baked crust. I usually just poke a million holes in the raw crust with a fork and put it in the oven at 350 degrees until it turns a golden brown, anywhere from 15 minutes to half an hour. I go by the colour of the crust not the cooking time and for whatever reason it can vary a lot. You can also line the inside of the shell with tin foil and add beans or pie weights and cook it that way. Again too much fuss for me and I don't find it makes a lot of difference but use which ever method you like.
You can always opt for the pre made pie crusts and skip all this, I won't judge. Of course I'll judge, that's cheating. LMAO Seriously, making good pie crust is a bit of an art but once you've mastered it................