Sunday, November 13, 2011

Mark's Famous Pie Crust Recipe--How to make it! And a Strawberry-Rhubarb Pie (Jahoda-Rebarbora koláč)

This spring we were making pies and tarts like mad chefs due to all of the fresh fruit we were picking throughout the Czech Republic. Many of you asked, even begged, to have our pie crust recipe. Kindly obliging, here it is!

Through the years we have perfected the easiest way to make a flaky, non-tough pie crust for all of your uses...quiche (cheese pie), fruit pies, pasties and so forth.  The KEY with all pie crust-making is to not work the dough as it will toughen immensely! Remember this is not bread dough with a leavening agent.

Mark's Pie Crust & A Strawberry-Rhubarb (Jahoda-Rebarbora) Pie
The secret to this fool-proof recipe is to use a food processor, rather than to mix it by hand (where it is more likely to become tough)...

2 cups or 180 g flour (mouka--use the fine, green label type)
2 tablespoons crystal sugar (cukr)
0.5 pounds (2 sticks) or 500 g unsalted butter (maslo)
1/2 teaspoon salt (sul)
1/2 cup or 118 ml ice cold water (voda)

In a food processor, place the grater blade in place, put the cover on. Grate the butter into the container. Remove grater blade.
Next, add in the chopped blade that sits in the bottom of the food processor container. Sift in the flour, adding in the sugar and salt. Cover the machine. As look down into the machine, here's what you'll see:

 Gently pulse the dry ingredients a few times into the grated butter. Then, keep the blade running while you gently start pouring the ice cold water into the food processor. Do this until the dough forms a ball which turns around inside of the container. Stop adding water (you will not use all of the ice cold water)! Turn the food processor off and take the ball of dough out and put into plastic wrap or wax paper until you are ready to roll it out. Keep refrigerated unless you're ready to roll out the dough immediately. NOTE: you can also freeze the dough this way and pull it out of the freezer to thaw when you're ready to make your next recipe requiring dough!

Now you're ready to roll the dough out. Use a clean, flat surface such as a stone countertop or on a wooden board or pastry cloth. We prefer using the latter in case the dough sticks a bit.
Lightly flour the surface and roll your favorite wooden rolling pin (ours is a hand-made Czech rolling pin!) into the flour to get the rolling pin covered with a fine layer.
Take half of the dough and place it onto the floured surface. Gently press it down with your hand to flatten it a bit. Then start rolling it out with the rolling pin, gently rolling outwards in all directions to make a circle. Once it is ~6-10 cm larger in diameter than your pie tin, stop rolling.
Fold it over itself in half so it is easy to pick up and place into the pie plate or tin. We always prefer using glass or ceramic pie plates, rather than aluminum (due to health concerns with using aluminum!).
Unfold it over the entire pie tin (above). Let the extra pieces hang over the edge of the pan until you have put the fruit inside (see below)!
Now you're ready to place the prepared fruit inside of the bottom pie shell!

Strawberry-Rhubarb Pie, Jahoda-Rebarbora Koláč
For our example today, we'll use the spring mixture of strawberries and rhubarb! We just happen to have  (this May day, 2011), some freshly harvested and chopped rhubarb (rebarbora), fresh strawberries (Jahoda) which we picked near Eggensberg, Austria (our friend Nancy and Carl were visiting at the time!). Also shown below are fresh sour cherries (already pitted) that we picked down the street (Lesni, Trebon) at our friends house, as well as fresh apricots from southern Italy (just came to the Farmer's Market..we bought these at the market in Brno). The cherries and apricots will be for another pie (not discussed here...).

 Mix 1 pound (~900 g) freshly chopped rhubarb with 0.75 pounds (340 g) strawberries in a bowl. Add in 1/2 cup (45 g) flour, 1 cup sugar (190 g), the zest from one lemon (citron), and shave in 1/2 of a nutmeg seed (or 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg):
 Of course, taste it to see if it has the right proportion of spice, sugar, and lemon.  If you need more of one item, add in a bit more....

 Now, pour the mixture into your prepared pie shell (from above):
Trim off the excess pie crust at the top of the pie tin with a knife or pastry cutter.
Roll out the top crust (using the other half of the pie crust (from above). Again, make sure that the diameter of the crust is 6-10 cm larger than the pie dish. You will need to cut in vent holes so the pie crust doesn't steam too much inside. Here we've made an R and a J for "rebarbora" and "jahoda" (rhubarb and strawberry)!
 Again, fold the dough over itself in half. Life carefully and place on top of the fruit-filled bottom crust. Cut off any extra crust, leaving ~2 cm of extra crust around the outer edge of the pie dish. this will now be turned underneath the bottom crust at the edge of the pan and crimped or pressed together to seal it. Then, you can add fancy designs to the edging, if you like!
 Maybe you'll want to sprinkle a bit of sugar (cukr) on top for a crusty, sugary delight!
 Into the oven it goes! Place it into a preheated oven set at ~160C or 325F. Place a drip pan underneath to catch any juice that will run out later!  Bake for 1-1.5 hours until the pie is bubbly and running over a bit.
Remove from oven and cool.
Happy eating!  Dobro hjut!

Disclaimer: This blog is not an official University of Minnesota or Fulbright Program blog. The views expressed are my own and not those of the Fulbright Program, the U.S. Department of State or any of its partner organizations, or the University of Minnesota.

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