I must apologize for the lateness of this post, but as many of you know by now, yesterday was my last day at my old job and today was my first day at the new one. That means that things have been hectic. But work craziness aside, it is time to report on our most recent blog tasting party (click here if you don’t know what a blog tasting party (BTP) is.) during which we sought to determine the perfect pie crust recipe. We invited a small group (hard to make pie for 40+) of friends over to help us figure it out. We also decided that with the holidays upon us, it would be fun to combine the tasting with a cookie exchange, so we invited our friends to bring along cookies and treats to share. They brought some amazing creations! I have asked them to let me know if I can share those recipes in upcoming posts, so be on the lookout for them.
For the pie crust tasting, I started with Mom’s recipe that has always worked great. She has received many compliments on her pies over the years. Her crust is easy to make and is tender and flaky. The ingredients include flour, vegetable shortening (yes, shortening rather than butter), salt, and ice cold water. But I have always known that butter adds a ton of flavor to pie crusts, so I wanted to experiment with using butter. Before the party, I made three experimental pie crusts. The first was Mom’s recipe, which used 3/4 cup of shortening. Then I made a crust with all butter and another crust with 1/2 cup of butter and 1/4 cup of shortening. I rolled out the dough and cut it into small strips. After sprinkling the strips with sugar, I baked them until lightly golden brown. Then it was time to taste. After I tasted them and picked my favorite, I had Jeff do a blind tasting and pick the one he liked best. It turned out that we both preferred the texture of the crust with the 1/2 cup of butter and 1/4 cup of shortening, so I knew that would be one of the crusts for tasting at the blog tasting party.
Then it was time to pick two crust recipes for the blind tasting at the BTP. Given that an all-butter crust is so traditional, I decided to include it. Then I also decided to try a crust with 1/2 cup of butter and 1/4 cup of cream cheese. I had heard that crusts with cream cheese were more forgiving to work with, so I decided to give it a try. But I ran out of time to test the cream cheese recipe before the party. That meant I would be tasting it for the first time along with our friends! (I know that goes against all traditional advice about not serving something new at a party, but I never followed that advice in the past, so why start now.)
Pie needs filling, right?! I didn’t think we could just invite people to taste strips of pie dough. Jeff was happy to weigh in on that decision—he wanted chocolate pie (you may remember, he always wants chocolate pie). Given my theory that chocolate makes everything better, I was happy to go along with that choice. Then I had to figure out how to make enough pie for the 15-20 people that were coming. Solution: Miniature Pies.
I rolled out each pie dough disk and cut out small circles with a round cookie cutter. Then I lightly pressed them in mini-muffin tins to create miniature pie crusts. That way everyone could each have three miniature pies (one made with each of the three crusts).
However, Jeff and I were worried that the pie filling might make it hard to taste differences in the different pie crust recipes, so I also baked sugar-coated strips of each pie crust recipe like I had done in the first taste test. That turned out to really help our friends figure out their favorite crust.
The good news is that all the crusts were flaky and tasty. The all-butter crust (shown in the green dish below)had a great flavor with a slightly crispy texture to the layers, but it did not seem to have as many layers as the other crusts and surprisingly only garnered three votes. Surprisingly, the cream cheese crust (shown in the red dish below) did not have a tangy flavor, so no one figured out the secret ingredient in it. It was the heaviest of the three crusts, but it was still flaky and had a good flavor. It was also very easy to work with. It rolled our smoothly and did not crack when I was rolling it out. The majority of the votes were split between it and the butter and shortening crust (shown in the yellow dish below), but by a few votes the butter and shortening crust won! The combination of the butter and shortening resulted in a tender crust with nice flacky layers that still had a buttery flavor.
For the Perfect Pie Crust Recipe (along with the other two recipes) click here.
For the chocolate pie filling recipe click here.
I hope you will try one or more of these pie crusts and let me know what you think! Now we just have to come up with the idea for the next blog tasting party. Perhaps, we should taste something for a SuperBowl party or a special Valentine’s dinner. Feel free to weigh in with your thoughts. Regardless, fun food tastings are a great way to share time with good friends. See you soon.
© 2014 FoodieOasis