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Easy As Pie…Times Five

August 9, 2011

Granny Emma was a small batch microprocessor before that term was even conceived. She and my Grandfather ran a small farm and hired several farmhands to raise tobacco. Part of Granny’s daily duties (on top of raising her three young children, several nieces and nephews, and a gigantic garden) was to feed all of the farmhands. Soup beans, cornbread, pies, cakes…I can’t even imagine how much food passed through her little country kitchen (or the amount of dirty dishes washed). I have hosted family in my home, and it was exausting just to feed them one homecooked meal.

The recipe I am featuring today was of great help to my Granny, because it is a pie crust recipe to make a batch of five pies. Now there are many pie crust recipes out there. Some use only shortening. Some use only butter. Some use both. I am documenting my experience making my Granny’s recipes, so if I mess up, you will see it on here. This isn’t staged baking perfection. It’s a real person cooking real vintage recipes. I am using as many authentic tools and ingredients as possible…even down to the aprons and placemats in the background. I want to share Granny’s history of love through food so that you can take these recipes and share them with your families, because as Granny always told me…”Love grows!”

Pie Crust

Makes five crusts.

Ingredients:
4 cups of all purpose flour
1 tablespoon of sugar
2 teaspoons of salt
1 and 3/4 cups COLD shortening
1/2 cup ice cold water
1 tablespoon of vinegar
1 large egg

Mix the flour, salt, and sugar in a large bowl.

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This dough bowl was given to me by my Granny Maxine. It and the wooden rolling pin and biscuit board were made by my great-great grandfather for my great-great grandmother. I can’t use the bowl anymore, but the rolling pin gets used every week!
Next, “cut in” the cold shortening using two knives, a pastry cutter, or even a food processor. I want to re-create the recipe in an authenic way, so for me, it will be knives.

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When ready, the flour mix will look like small pea-sized pieces and cornmeal.

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In another small bowl, beat the egg and vinegar together. Add this to the flour mixture. Mix slightly. Then start adding the cold water and stir gently until it comes together to form the dough. It should’t be wet or dry, but about the consistency of new playdough. Easy to envision for you moms out there!

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Divide the dough into five parts, each weighing about eight ounces. Place each ball on a piece of plastic wrap and flatten into a disc with the palm of your hand. Shape it into the most even disc you can, which will make it easier to roll out later. Wrap each disc tightly and refrigerate until well-chilled. Granny says these crusts can also be frozen for later use, but she never got to do this with the numbers of people she fed!

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Now, to roll out the crust for baking! First, take a disc of dough out of the refrigerator. Dust your board or counter lightly with flour. Too much flour will take away from your crust!

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Roll out the dough using quick, short, but firm pressure. Between rolls, turn the dough and make sure there is flour underneath.

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This prevents the many sticking and tearing episodes that I had. You can also cut off the foot of a NEW pair of panty hose, fill it with flour, and tie it off to make a dusting bag. Just use it to pat the board and rolling pin for the perfect amount of flour.

When the dough is large enough to cover the pie pan, roll it onto the rolling pin, and then unroll over the pan.

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Use your fingers to press the dough into the edges and base of the pan.

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Trim the crust with a small knife.

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Then, using your thumb on one hand and thumb and forefinger of the other hand, make indentations to decorate the edge.

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This is optional, of course. You can also use a fork to press onto the edge for a ribbed finish. Remember, a pretty, but imperfect crust lets people know that it is homemade!

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Use this pie crust with your favorite family recipe, or come back to Sugarmamma for more heirloom instructions and recipes! And when you are cleaning your kitchen, think about my Granny Emma doing this every day to feed a bunch of loud, hungry farmhands. No air conditioning, no dishwasher, except her own two hands. My modern life truly is easy as pie!

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