Basic Pie Dough for two single-crust pies (see recipe below)
½ cup (1 stick) butter, softened
½ cup sugar
½ tsp cinnamon
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp ground cloves
2 cups corn syrup (Kathy uses 1 cup dark and 1 cup light; I use only light)
1 cup old-fashioned oats (I doubled this from her recipe)
1 ½ cups toasted pecan pieces
Prepare the Basic Pie Dough for two single-crust pies. (You’ll still make the double-crust recipe, but for two separate pies.)
Prepare the Filling: Cream butter and sugar together in a mediumsized bowl. Add spices and mix well. Blend in corn syrup. Add eggs, one at a time, stirring—not beating—into the mixture (see note below). Gently stir in oats.
Sprinkle bottom of pie crusts with most of the pecan pieces. Pour filling into crusts and sprinkle additional pecan pieces on top. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 to 50 minutes or until tops are browned. Do not overbake. It’s okay if center jiggles a little when pie is moved. Eat it warm!
NOTE : If too much air is beaten into the mixture after eggs are added, this will turn into a cake, so go easy on the beating.
Basic Pie Dough
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, chilled and cut into large chunks
1/2 cup vegetable shortening, chilled
2 1/2 cups flour, plus at least ½ cup extra for rolling
Dash of salt
Ice water (fill a full cup but use only enough to moisten dough)
Before You Start
★ Flour is your friend when it comes to rolling dough. It’s what I like to call your “insurance policy.” Contrary to what other cookbooks will tell you, extra flour will not make your dough tough. Adding flour to your rolling surface will keep your dough from sticking—and will keep you from running to the store in frustration to buy pre-made pie crust.
★ That said, always start from the center and roll out to the edges, rolling in one direction. You can push, you can pull, but don’t roll back and forth like a crazy person. I like to think of rolling dough as a dance; stay fluid in your motions. Also, put a little body weight into it so you can really stretch your dough. Too little pressure won’t get your dough to roll thin; too much pressure will mangle your dough. Try it out, get a feel, don’t be afraid to experiment.
★ Keep your workspace clean. Take the time to scrape the gunk off your rolling surface as well as your rolling pin. This is another one of those “insurance policies” to keep your dough from sticking.
★ When rolling dough, use your pie dish to calculate how big you’ll need it. Allow for enough extra width to account for the depth of the dish and make sure the extra inch or two of overhang from the dish has enough bulk for crimping the edge.
★ Size isn’t the only goal when rolling dough. You want to aim for a certain “thinness.” My pie teacher, Mary Spellman, taught me what her mother taught her: Roll it thin enough so you can just start to see the stripes of the tablecloth through the dough. I always think about this transparency, even if there are no stripes on my rolling surface.
1. In a deep, large bowl, work the butter and shortening into the flour and salt with your hands until you have almond- and pea-sized lumps of butter.
2. Then, drizzling in ice water a little at a time, “toss” the water around with your fingers spread, as if the flour were a salad and your hands were the salad tongs. Don’t spend a lot of time mixing the dough, just focus on getting it moistened. Translation: With each addition of water, toss about four times and then STOP, add more water, and repeat.
3. When the dough holds together on its own (and with enough water, it will), do a “squeeze test.” If it falls apart, you need to add more water. If it is soggy and sticky, you might need to sprinkle flour onto it until the wetness is balanced out. The key is to not overwork the dough! It takes very little time and you’ll be tempted to keep touching it, but don’t!
4. Now divide the dough in two balls (or three, if your pie dishes are smaller) and form each into a disk shape.
5. Sprinkle flour under and on top of your dough to keep it from sticking to your rolling surface. Roll to a thinness where the dough almost seems transparent.
6. Measure the size of the dough by holding your pie plate above it. It’s big enough if you have enough extra width to compensate for the depth and width of your dish, plus 1 to 2 inches overhang.
7. Slowly and gently—SERIOUSLY, TAKE YOUR TIME!—lift the dough off the rolling surface, nudging flour under with the scraper as you lift, and fold the dough back. When you are sure your dough is 100 percent free and clear from the surface, bring your pie dish close to it and then drag your dough over to your dish. (Holding the folded edge will give you a better grip and keep your dough from tearing.)
8. Place the folded edge halfway across your dish, allowing the dough of the covered half to drape over the side. Slowly and carefully unfold the dough until it lies fully across the pie dish.
9. Lift the edges and let gravity ease the dough down to sit snugly in the dish, using the light touch of a finger if you need to push any remaining air space out of the corners as you go.
10. Trim excess dough to about 1 inch from the dish edge (I use scissors), leaving ample dough to make crimped, fluted edges.
Excerpted from Ms. American Pie by Beth Howard. Race Point Publishing, 2014.