I had three new experiences on Saturday. The first was going to a u-pick farm and picking apples with Chris. It was a beautiful day (a little on the warm side but that's okay) and we got to walk around the farm and get some produce. For the most part we stuck with apples (lots of apples on the blog over the next week or so), although we also got a couple of sugar pumpkins to roast and a couple of small butternut squashes for soup. The only downer at all was that google maps failed us miserably and sent us to a small access road in the middle of nowhere instead of to the farm. Luckily the farm is a pretty popular place so the kid working at 7-11 knew where we were supposed to be instead and it wasn't that far from where we ended up.
On the way home we stopped by the Victoria Gastro Pub for lunch and had one of the most delectable culinary treats of our lives -- duck fat french fries. They were quite awesome and will be repeated. Plus, as an added bonus, the Pub has an excellent beer selection on tap and in the bottle and while it probably won't replace our beloved Frisco Grille anytime soon, it will certainly offer a suitable alternative.
Third, and by far the most significant of the three new experiences -- I made pie crust without yelling, screaming, throwing things, and/or crying. It was amazing. And while the crust still has some texture issues -- the bottom is a bit too chewy and the top is a bit too crispy -- it's still my most successful crust to date.
I used the Cooks Illustrated recipe that Smitten Kitchen posted, but I don't actually attribute the success to the recipe itself, more to a technique that Smitten Kitchen recommends for her gallette dough -- I mixed the flour, baking powder, and salt together and put it in the freezer for several hours. I also cut the butter into pieces and put that in the freezer for several hours as well. Once everything was nice and cold I used the food processor to cut the butter into the flour (note for next time -- don't cut the butter too small!) and then started slowly adding the very cold water/vodka mixture by hand.
I think my texture problems came in because I had to really knead the dough to get it to come together properly. My first instinct was to add more water -- and I did add a little -- but then I stopped myself and just worked the dough until it started to come together. At one point it started to get too warm so I put the whole thing back in the freezer for 15 minutes and then started again. Once I had a respectable disc of dough I wrapped in plastic wrap and let it rest in the fridge for 30 minutes before rolling it out for the pie.
The crust recipe made enough for a 9 inch double crust, but I figured a semi-successful single crust was more than adequate for one day so I opted to make a crumb-topped apple pie from my Bubby's Pies book (recipe not included yet because I don't want to type it in right now...) and save the other part of the crust for something else.
If nothing else, progress has been made. Hopefully there won't be a pie crust disaster relapse in my future because I really would like to be able to make pies.
Makes enough for one 9-inch double-crust pie
2 1/2 cups (12 1/2 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon table salt
2 tablespoons sugar
12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/4-inch slices
1/2 cup cold vegetable shortening, cut into small bits
1/4 cup cold vodka
1/4 cup cold water
1. Process 1 1/2 cups flour, salt, and sugar in food processor until combined, about 2 one-second pulses. Add butter and shortening and process until homogeneous dough just starts to collect in uneven clumps, about 15 seconds (dough will resemble cottage cheese curds and there should be no uncoated flour). Scrape bowl with rubber spatula and redistribute dough evenly around processor blade. Add remaining cup flour and pulse until mixture is evenly distributed around bowl and mass of dough has been broken up, 4 to 6 quick pulses. Empty mixture into medium bowl.
2. Sprinkle vodka and water over mixture. With rubber spatula, use folding motion to mix, pressing down on dough until dough is slightly tacky and sticks together. Divide dough into two even balls and flatten each into 4-inch disk. Wrap each in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 45 minutes or up to 2 days.