Apples used to be so expensive and hard to come by in the past. However, nowadays getting 2 bags of apples from those guys selling in traffic while on your way home for a pie will not break the bank.
Granted, pastry making can be quite intimidating but how else does one learn, if not by making it again and again and again.
These are some of the mistakes I have made while learning to make pastry:
- Do not over-handle the crust (fight the chapati mentality to thoroughly knead the dough). You will get a tough crust.
- Too much water when mixing the dough also results in a tough crust.
But guess what? The pie will still be gobbled up! Your family will enjoy eating your “experiments” as you perfect your pastry making.
In addition, there is nothing like whipping out a homemade pie from the oven!
- The basic rule for pastry is to use half the weight of fat to flour, and a liquid to bind it.
- Apple cider vinegar helps break the gluten, but this is an optional step.
- The water and the butter need to be ice cold so as to leave little solid bits of butter in the dough/crust.
- Those solid bits of butter melt during baking, resulting in a flaky crust.
- All purpose flour, sugar and salt
- 250 grams of butter at Kshs 250 or
- 500 grams of kimbo/kasuku/shortening at Kshs 120 (For best results combine half butter half shortening. However, do what works for you.)
- 8 apples Kshs 240 or 8 pears Kshs 80 (pears in Kenya are a more organic option.)
- Pie dish Kshs 900 (investment piece)
Attempt this on that random chilled Saturday or Sunday afternoon, or public holiday/long weekend when you are relaxed and have enough time.
Do in advance:
Measure and cut your butter or shortening into small cubes and put them in the freezer.
Put your flour in the fridge for half an hour or freezer for 15 min.
Make sure you have cold water in the fridge.
Homemade Pie Crust I
- 2 cups flour
- 1 cup cold to frozen buttered shortening cubed
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1/2 cup ice cold water
DirectionsTune into your favourite radio station, or your favourite playlist and turn the music up. In a bowl mix the 2 cups flour, 1 teaspoon salt and 1 teaspoon sugar together.
Pour the dry ingredients the counter and make a well in the centre. Using a fork or a pastry cutter, cut in the butter – it should take about two to three minutes. You actually want to be left with visible solid bits of pea-size fat.
Make a well in the centre again, and pour in the half of the ice cold water. With the fork, mix until the mixture holds together.
Now, this is the moment your hands get in actual contact with the dough, and you want to do this as quickly as possible. One tablespoon at a time, add the remaining water. Form it into a ball.
Divide dough in half. Flatten each half into thick discs using your hands.
Wrap tightly in cling film, or a plastic/food bag and chill for at least an hour in the fridge. This allows the dough to relax, and once its chilled it is easier to roll.
Do a little dance, or have a glass of wine or some chocolate. You have made pie crust!
Now for the easy part.
Apple/Pear Pie Filling
- 8 apples or pears
- juice of half a lemon
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1/4 cup flour
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon vanilla essence
DirectionsPeel the apples or pears and thinly slice. (Use the peel and core to make your own apple or pear cider vinegar Kitchen Scraps – Apple Peels.)
Mix 1/4 cup sugar, 1/4 cup all-purpose flour, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, 1 teaspoon vanilla essence, squeeze of lemon juice and a pinch of salt in a large bowl. Stir in apples.
DirectionsRemove the dough from the fridge and cut in two, one piece slightly larger than the other.
Flour your rolling pin and roll out the larger piece of pastry on a floured surface (you should still be able to see bits of butter). Line your pie dish, leaving enough pastry over the sides. Don’t stretch the pastry. Let it fall in the dish comfortably.
Now add your apple mixture.
Roll out the second piece of dough and cover the pie. Slice some slits to serve as air vents as the apples cook. Seal the edges with your fingers or a fork. If you have pastry crust left over, and are artsy, you can shape it into leaves or something, or you could simply freeze it for another time.
Return it to the fridge for half an hour to rest. In the meantime, preheat your oven to 200ºC/400ºF.
Bake for 15 minutes and then turn the oven down to 170ºC/350ºF for a further 20 minutes. When golden remove and let it cool.