14 August 2008

PERFECT OIL PASTRY

Oil is interesting stuff, when you think about it--such interesting, useful, and varied stuff. Each kind of oil has its own set of fascinating uses. An automobile engine needs oil to run smoothly--or at all, really, if you want it to run very long. Mineral oil can be a moisturizer (it's a main ingredient in lots of lotions) or a laxative (according to the bottle--I've never used it for that purpose), and it works great for removing labels from jars and bottles. And then there is the multitude of different vegetable (and fruit and nut) oils that are used for cooking: canola, corn, grapeseed, hazelnut, olive, peanut, safflower, sesame, soybean, sunflower, walnut, and more. Of course, all these cooking oils have different uses. Neutral oils, like canola and safflower, are pretty much just good for cooking food. More flavorful oils, like sesame and walnut, are mostly used in small quantities to add a certain taste to foods. Furthermore, one can find creative uses for any kind of oil, as my husband's two older brothers discovered as young boys. There's an amusing story in the family lore about Roger and Larry covering the kitchen floor with vegetable oil and then using it as a "skating" rink. Naturally, this caused their babysitter great consternation.

Oil can also make a great pie crust, but before you pastry purists out there turn up your noses at such blasphemy, let me assure you that it is an amazingly flaky crust that turns out perfectly every time and brings me tons of compliments. It is delightfully quick and easy, and it’s vegan, too. In fact, it's the only pie crust recipe I use. I inherited the recipe from my mom (it's the only crust recipe she uses too), but I always found that the recipe didn't make enough to fit into my slightly extra-large pie plates. I always had to roll the dough so thin that it tore easily, causing me much frustration (so much, in fact, that usually my husband would step in and take over to reduce my stress level). So I finally rewrote the recipe to make a larger amount, and now it is perfect (thus the name).

PERFECT OIL PASTRY

2½ cups all-purpose flour
1¼ teaspoons salt
½ cup plus 2 tablespoons vegetable oil*
½ cup cold water

1. In a medium bowl, combine flour and salt. Pour oil and water into a measuring cup; add all at once to flour and salt. Stir lightly with a fork until combined.
2. Form into 2 balls; flatten dough slightly. Roll out each ball between parchment paper. (Tip: If the surface under the parchment paper is dampened first by wiping it with a wet cloth or sponge, the parchment won’t slide around while you roll.) Fit into a 9-inch or 10-inch pie plate. Trim edge to 1 inch. Fold edge under and crimp as desired. Use second half of dough for top or a second single-crust pie.

Makes 2 single-crust pies or 1 double-crust pie.

*I generally use the neutral-tasting canola oil, especially for sweet pies, but for savory pies and quiches, olive oil (or part olive and part canola oil) is excellent.

1 comment:

Marta Jeremy and Emily said...

This is VERY similar to my mom's recipe and you're right, it does taste WONDERFUL! One can even do half and half with whole wheat flour.

I'm NOT a baker, but this crust actually turns out for me, of all people. One tip I've found is using a hand blender to emulsify the oil and water, makes like a mayo type consistency, then you don't have to worry about a tough spot that got too much water. ;)