I’ll be the first to admit that this post is totally cheating. Despite my plans to participate in December’s Twelve Loaves project (they are cooking holiday breads and I can’t wait to check out the offerings tomorrow), amidst cleaning and cooking and family and tree hunting (since we visit family during the actual Christmas holiday, I like to get my tree early so I can enjoy it for a couple weeks first), there was also a pile of grading to be done, and oh, right, lesson planning so I know what I’m doing in class this week would be good too, and there simply weren’t enough hours in any of these glorious days to include several rises, and shaping, and spicing, and glazing, and all those steps I’d intended to embark on to have something sweet and festive to share with you today (no spoilers, though, only hints, because I still want to make them…)
Instead, here’s a cheat post to tide us all over. There are no photos (besides the one from Instagram yesterday; take a peek down on the right side of the page), and only a quick little recipe, but if you, like me, struggle endlessly with pie crust, you might want to give this one a try. It is decadent but simple, since all the work is done in a food processor, it rolls out like a dream, and I even managed to keep it flaky! I’m including suggestions for both savory and sweet below, and feel free to omit or change out the herbs to your liking. I used the sweet variety for my Thanksgiving pumpkin pie on Thursday, and the savory for a turkey pot pie on Saturday.
Both recipes are adapted from Shirley O. Corriher’s wonderful book Bakewise, and make enough for 1 single-crust 9-inch pie. Including chilling time for the dough, they take a little under 90 minutes, and the procedure is exactly the same.
Cream Cheese pie crust
1 cup flour
For savory: 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh dill
For sweet: 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1 teaspoon salt
4 ounces full fat cream cheese
4 ounces cold, unsalted butter, cut into slices
1-2 tablespoons very cold water
- In the belly of a food processor, pulse the flour, dill or sugar (depending on whether you’re making sweet or savory), and salt until evenly distributed. Add the cream cheese and let the mixer run until the mixture is homogeneous – it will be the texture of barely moistened sand and stay together only a moment when pressed between thumb and fingertip.
- Dump in the slices of butter and pulse in 1 second intervals until most of the butter is broken up and, when tested, the mixture stays together when pressed between thumb and fingertip.
- Drizzle in 1 tablespoon of the cold water and pulse again briefly once or twice. We are looking for the mixture to just start to come together into a rumbling ball in the belly of the machine. If the mixture seems too dry, add the second tablespoon of water and pulse again briefly to bring together.
- Stretch out a piece of plastic wrap on your countertop and dump the contents of the food processor onto it. Remove the blade and use the plastic wrap to help you shape the dough into a disc 4-6 inches in diameter. Try to handle as little as possible to keep it tender. Wrap it up and stow it in the fridge for at least an hour.
- About ten minutes before you are ready to roll out the crust, remove the chilled disc from the refrigerator and set it on the counter. The fats inside the dough need to warm just a little bit to make rolling easier. When ready, dust a bread board generously with flour, unwrap the disc of dough and sprinkle it with flour as well.
- With a floured rolling pin, roll out the dough in a rough circle. Start in the center and push forward, then back again toward you. If the dough cracks, don’t worry, just keep rolling and it will usually come back together.
- After one or two rolls in one direction, turn the dough 90 degrees and flip it over, then roll again. Continue this process, rolling, turning, and flipping, and rolling again, until you have a circle about 11 inches in diameter. Re-flour the board, the crust, or the rolling pin in between if things start to get sticky.
- Carefully drape about half the dough over the rolling pin and quickly move it to your 9-inch pie plate. Settle it in gently, easing it into the bottom edge of the pan, and rather than cutting off the excess, fold it back and wedge it between the pie plate and the crust itself. A little extra crust at the top is always a good thing. Use your thumb or a fork to press the edges at the top for a decorative border.
- Fill and bake as directed, and enjoy.