This weekend I’m helping with a wedding shower and my contribution is a couple of spinach tarts. Actually, my mom is a hostess (one of 9, I think) and I love making these so really, I’m just helping my mom. I’ve made this pie crust for a long time; the recipe comes from a dear family friend who has “pie parties” every Christmas, making dozens of pies. She’s done those parties for longer than I’ve been alive, so really the I’ve just picked up on the tradition of this recipe rather recently, given it’s long history.
I used to work at a cafe/bakery and when they found out I knew how to make crust, it became my job every night to make at least 8 quiche crusts. I’ve learned a lot about making it along the way-what works, what doesn’t. The recipe is just small phrases like “a pinch more than a 2/3 cup of crisco,” so even though it might seem like it isn’t precise, it actually is very much so. Wondra and Crisco which you “cut” to pea size. Pie crust is like yeast bread in that it takes time. I think I used to rush through this recipe and it would turn out ok, but it wasn’t great by any means. Cutting it to pea size means mixing it until that big blob of crisco is mixed consistently throughout so that it is roughly the size of peas. Then you add in 4-6 tablespoons of really, really cold water. I put ice cubes in a bowl and add the coldest water I can to it. With crust, as with any pastry, temperature is really important to the texture and consistency of the final product-and how easy or difficult it is to work with along the way. I always add less water to start-easier to add more later than have too much and have soggy crust. Eww.Then I just gently mix it until it starts to stick together. I make discs and put them in the fridge overnight to harden. I’ll bake them off at some point tomorrow and then fill them with all sorts of wonderful things.
Baking really can be so relaxing…working with your hands and seeing the result of your hands’ work is so satisfying, especially after a day that has been so frustrating.