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A Perfect American Pie.

Have you ventured into making pie crust from scratch?

We know it can be intimidating but when you really think about it, making pie crust boils down to just four basic ingredients: flour, fat, liquid and salt. A delicate, melt-in-your-mouth crust is something every baker aims for when making pie crust from scratch. Once you master the proper blending techniques, there's much fun to be had turning fresh fruit into irresistible pies to serve at a holiday dinner, cookout, potlucks or anytime your sweet tooth needs catering to.

THE SECRETS OF THE PERFECT PIE

 • If you can, mix the pastry using a food processor. It is necessary to mix rapidly and energetically so if you do not own a food processor, resort to your own strong hands. So, no wooden spoons or whisks are allowed!

• Another piece of advice is to ensure that all the ingredients are very cold, the butter especially and the water above all, better still if you have just melted some ice cubes in it. In this way, the fats will be well distributed between the grains of flour (technically, the opposite occurs, but it is all the same for our purpose) and once the pastry is baked, it will have the typical pie crust consistency. Don’t worry either if the pieces of butter do not melt completely in the pastry dough. Better still, in fact!

• As far as the filling is concerned, take care to use fruit that is not too watery: water contributes to the formation of gluten which makes the pastry hard, not to mention the risk of cracking at the edges.

• Finally, the tip to end all tips from Polish girl: Instead of cold water, use iced vodka. Since vodka consists of 40% alcohol and 60% water, it will evaporate almost entirely in the oven. In this way, you will have all the liquid you need to mix the flour effectively with a smaller quantity of water during cooking, which will further reduce the formation of gluten.

If you follow these tips, yours is sure to be an award-winning American Pie Crust. So roll up your sleeves, dust off your rolling pin and get ready to have a little fun in the kitchen with these delicious pie recipes.

A PERFECT AMERICAN PIE RECIPE

by Donna Jurczak

To make the pie crust, you need:

• 500 g of flour

• 250 grams of cold Amish butter

• 50 grams of sugar

• one spoonful of cold cider vinegar

• a pinch of salt

• 120 grams of ice-cold vodka

Now start to make the pastry dough by rapidly blending the flour, salt, and sugar with the cold butter chopped into pieces. Then add the vinegar and water or vodka, continuing to mix the ingredients. Cut the dough into two parts, pop them into a cellophane or polythene bag and leave to rest in the fridge.

Now for the filling.

You can choose between a traditional apple filling or another fruit of your choice (fresh cherries are excellent, but the frozen variety will also work well). I decided to use fresh fruits sprinkled with sugar and flour for my American Flag Pie. Here is a traditional apple pie filling recipe.

• half a kilo (500 g) of apples is required

• 100 g of brown sugar

• cinnamon vanilla extract

• 80 grams of butter

• two spoonfuls of corn flour

• two spoonfuls of lemon juice.

Now proceed to melt the butter in a pan and add the fruit previously chopped into smallish pieces, together with the sugar, cinnamon, and vanilla. Simmer over low heat, stirring all the time until the fruit starts to caramelize. Then add the cornflour previously combined with the lemon juice. Continue to stir over the heat for a couple of minutes. Now your filling is ready to use.

Time to assemble the pie!

Pre-heat the oven to 180° C. Grease a pie dish with butter. Take your pastry dough and roll out the two pieces on the worktop. Lay the first pastry sheet on the pie dish and prick it with a fork. Now cover the base with a bit of greaseproof paper and some raw beans. Bake in the oven for 15 minutes. Take the pie dish out of the oven and remove the greaseproof paper and beans, before pouring in the filling. Then carefully cover the pie with the second pastry sheet and seal the two edges well. Make a few small cuts in the top layer of pastry before brushing the entire surface with egg yolk followed by a dusting of brown sugar. I use a small star cookie cutter and a small sharp knife to cut out the decorations for my 4th Of July pie version. This can be a fun activity your kids can help you with. I also cover the top decorations with egg yolk wash and sugar. Return the pie to the oven for another 40 minutes approximately.

Have fun mastering your American Pie and happy 4th of July!

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