Christmas is my favorite time of year. I take that back, the holidays are my favorite time of year. People, food, giving, love, sharing, talking, it all makes me happy. One of my favorite things is the baking.
There is just something about baking that fills me with warmth. No, it’s not just the heat of the oven — although when I am done, I leave the oven cracked open to let it warm my house a bit. For me, baking can solve all my worries, or allow me to put them aside for an hour at least. There is nothing better than making a batch of cookies, or trying a new pumpkin recipe after a tough day at work. I don’t eat all the goodies by myself. I freeze half of the items for my son’s lunches. That way, I am not buying stuff with tons of preservatives or unknown chemicals. I know what I am making and what goes into it. I also have a good excuse to bake more. I have discovered my son is more open to trying new things that I make, coincidence?
Even now, just thinking about my day today has me wanting to make cookies to take to church and share with everyone. Good thing I am out of eggs at the moment.
I think my biggest splurge in baking right now is still pumpkin. I know we had a ton of pumpkin recipes in November, I even contributed one. Costco has three huge, 62 oz. cans of pureed pumpkin for around eight dollars. One can in the grocery store is four. So this is a deal! I use half a cup to a cup at a time, depending on the recipe, and freeze the rest in one cup measurements.
I made pumpkin cake, pumpkin pancakes, pumpkin muffins, pumpkin scones, pumpkin cheesecake, pumpkin coffee cake, and pumpkin bars. The only thing not to grace my oven rack was pumpkin pie. So before the holidays were over, I had to make one. And since I have this new found baking power, “I am super baker” I had to make my own crust.
Crusts scare me. They have for years. My grandmother showed me the pre-made dough several years ago and have stuck to it. But since I am now “Super Baker” (read it with loud announcer voice), I can no longer rely on that trick. So I Googled and scoured the internet for a recipe. I should have thought about my 1940s cookbook, old recipes are so cool, but I didn’t. I went to the internet like any one with internet and Google would do.
There are several websites that I have found amazing things from in the past, so I look there first when the show up in my results: tasteofhome.com, skinnytaste.com, thepioneerwoman.com. Even our own Hillary had a great recipe.
This is the one I used:
- 1-½ cup Crisco (vegetable Shortening)
- 3 cups all-purpose Flour
- 1 egg
- 5 Tablespoons cold water
- 1 Tablespoon white vinegar
- 1 teaspoon salt
In a large bowl, with a pastry cutter, gradually work the Crisco into the flour for about 3 or 4 minutes until it resembles a coarse meal. In a small bowl, beat an egg with a fork and then pour it into the flour/shortening mixture. Add 5 tablespoons of cold water, 1 tablespoon of white vinegar and 1 teaspoon of salt. Stir together gently until all of the ingredients are incorporated.
Separate the dough into thirds. Form 3 evenly sized balls of dough and place each dough into a large Ziploc bag. Using a rolling pin, slightly flatten each ball of dough (about ½ inch thick) to make rolling easier later. Seal the bags and place them in the freezer until you need them. (If you will be using it immediately it’s still a good idea to put in the freezer for about 15 to 20 minutes to chill.)
When you are ready to use the dough to make a crust, remove from the freezer and allow to thaw for 15 minutes. On a floured surface, roll the dough, starting at the center and working your way out. (Sprinkle some flour over top of the dough if it’s a bit too moist.) If the dough is sticking to the counter top, use a metal spatula and carefully scrape it up and flip it over and continue rolling until it’s about ½ inch larger in diameter than your pie pan.
With a spatula, lift the dough carefully from the surface of the counter into the pie pan. Gently press the dough against the corner of the pan. Go around the pie pan pinching and tucking the dough to make a clean edge.
This was the best tasting pie crust I have ever had. It may be because I have not used homemade crust in years and forgot what a difference it makes. But it was a pain in the butt to put into the pie pan. The last one, this recipe makes three, would not stay together so I pieced it together in the pie pan. It still worked, the crust baked beautifully, was light and flaky and all that snazz. But I missed the ease of pre-made crust, a sacrifice I will make from now on.
Having three crusts ready to use came in handy. I made two pecan pies and then I made my pumpkin pie a week later. I am not sure how long you can keep it in the freezer, but the week didn’t seem to be a problem.