Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Crusty Genious

How many times have you, my fellow bakers, been disappointed by soggy crust? You bake a lovely pie, and by virtue of the fact that it has fruit or pudding, and those are wet ingredients, the bottom of your pie is soggy. Of course, it doesn't affect the flavor, but still, you were striving for flaky and crispy throughout the crust. Well, I think I have a solution!

My searches on how to combat this issue, have turned up various strategies. Everything from prebaking with a brush of fruit jelly, or butter, or egg wash to create a moisture proof barrier. Also, there was a lengthy set of steps where you would prebake, then fill the crust, then bake for a set amount of time on the floor of the oven (only if your oven was flat on the bottom of course) and then moved to the center rack for the remainder of the time. Well shoot! There has to be an easier, TASTIER way to improve on this! Right?

Yes. Yes there is. How about, a toffee like crispy thin moisture barrier, that actually adds to the crispiness and gives your pie a salty sweet crunch to it? Well, I can say, "Eureka! I've FOUND it!"

Don't you want a slice?
I decided to make a Cherry Cheese Pie, which seems very classic and yet just a little bit naughty. The tartness of the cherries are the first thing you taste, then the rich creamy smooth cheese mellows out those cherries. Then, the crispy, crunchy crust, has to be a little salty and sweet to bring it all together. Because, it's like chips and guacamole. You can't eat either by themselves. You MUST have the salty crunch of the chips married with the creamy smoothness of the guacamole.... oh goodness... I need to buy avocados and chips tomorrow! Ahem! Back on track! So, here is both, Cherry Cheese Pie and Crispy Toffee Pie Crust!

(crust must come first so it is cool enough for the filling!)

Crispy Toffee Pie Crust
  • 1 1/4 C. flour
  • 1/2 C. cold butter cut into cubes
  • 1/4 tsp. sea salt
  • 1/4 C. (approx) ice water
Measure flour and salt into food processor (or bowl if you don't have one). Add butter and pulse until blended to resemble coarse meal (cut in with fork or pastry cutter if working by hand).

Next, add ice water one tablespoon at a time, just until dough starts to stick together. Seems closer to 1/8th of a cup most of the time.

Roll into a ball and wrap in plastic wrap and chill in refrigerator for 2 hours. When 2 hours is up, work quickly so you don't warm the dough up too much.

Put plastic wrap down on your counter to prevent sticking and flour your rolling pin. Roll out to a round that will fit your pie pan. I use glass, because I think it is more even than aluminum. To check the size, I always lay the pie pan on top briefly, and make sure the edge of the dough come about an inch to 1 1/2 inches past the edge of the pan.

Next, if you lay the pan in the center of your dough and hold onto the plastic and flip everything right side up, you can peel the wrap off your dough and it's centered in you pan. Fit, and trim to suit the pan. Next, the syrup to seal your pie from moisture!
finished crust next to syrup

Toffee Syrup Pie Sealer
  • 1 C. Sugar
  • 6 Tbsp butter
  • 1/8 Cup hot water
Note: this wasn't exact science. I was experimenting, so all I know, is these measurements worked for me. You may need to adjust your measurements as you play with this idea.

In sauce pan, melt butter on medium heat. When fully melted, add sugar and water. Cook until sugar dissolves stirring constantly. You may need to turn heat up slightly until it begins to bubble on the edges. Continue cooking until in starts to turn slightly golden and when tested in ice water, a drop of the syrup into the water, turns to the soft ball stage. Remove from heat.

Sprinkle the prepared pie crust with cinnamon, all over. Then, with a silicone brush, brush syrup all over the pie. Even the top edges. Next, prick the bottom of the pie with a fork a few times, to prevent bubbling.

Place in 350° F oven and bake for approx 15 min, or until golden brown. Set aside to cool while making pie filling.

Cherry Cheese Pie
  • 1 (8 ounce) pkg cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1 (14 ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1/3 C. lemon juice
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 (21-ounce) can cherry pie filling, chilled
In either a stand mixer fixed with a paddle attachment or using a hand held electric mixer, cream the cream cheese until light and fluffy, about 3 to 5 minutes. 

Slowly add the milk mixing on low speed until well combined. Stir in the lemon juice and vanilla  until smooth.

Make sure your pie crust is fully cooled. Next, pour into the crust. Place the pie into the refrigerator for at least 2 hours up to overnight, until well chilled and set.

Top the pie with the pie filling just before serving.
I am dedicating this blog post to one of my favorite fellow baking moms:  

Modern Mrs. Cleaver
This is a blog, definitely worth checking out. She has a gift with food, photography and wit. She often has recipe contests and other fun things to try. Just drop on by and while you're there, tell her I said hi!

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