Pie is a nutritious dish, full of flavors and appetizing. It is a baked dish usually made of a pastry dough casing that covers or contains a delicious and yummy filling of various sweet or savory ingredients.
The secret of eating an excellent, flaky pie mainly depends on it pie crust. Pies are defined by their crusts. A filled pie, single crust or bottom crust has pastry linking the baking dish and the filling placed on top of the pastry, but left open and a top crust pie which is also known as cobbler has the filling in the bottom of the dish and the filling covered with a pastry or other covering before baking. A two crust pie has the filling completely sealed in the pastry shell. Generally a flaky pastry is a typical kind of pastry used for pie crusts. Flaky pastry is a light, flaky, unleavened pastry similar to a puff pastry.
Pies are available in a variety of sizes, ranging from bite size to ones designed for multiple servings. For making a brilliant pie, the perfect pie dough must be part of any cook’s core curriculum. The finest crusts are made from the coolest pastry, made in a chilly kitchen with ice water, chilled flour, and cold butter. The amount of water used will vary between 1/4 and 1/2 cup, depending on the moisture in the atmosphere and ingredients. The measures of the ingredients are very vital and subtle changes in the recipe affect the dough. Pie dough can be stored in the freezer for up to a month. Just wrap it in cellophane sheet or a plastic bag, and you can make homemade pies at a moment’s notice.
Historians have said that the first pies appeared around 9500 BC, in the Egyptian Neolithic period or New Stone Age, when the use of stone tools shaped by polishing or grinding became common, the domestication of plants and animals, the establishment of permanent villages, and the practice of crafts such as pottery and weaving. Early pies were in the form of galettes wrapping honey as a treat inside a cover of ground oats, wheat, rye or barley. These galettes developed into a form of early sweet pastry or desserts, evidence of which can be found on the tomb walls of the Pharaoh Ramesses II, who ruled from 1304 to 1237 BC, located in the Valley of the Kings. Sometime before 2000 BC, a recipe for chicken pie was written on a tablet in Sumer.
Pies was the core staple diet for travelers and working peoples in the colder northern European countries, with regional variations based on both the locally grown and available meats, as well as the locally farmed cereal crop. The Cornish pasty is an excellent adaptation of the pie to a working man’s daily food needs.
There are a variety of sweet and savory pies that one can really make. Few of the very popular savory pies are the chicken pie, butter pie, meat pie, pizza pie, quiche etc while the strawberry pie, apple pie, coconut pie and cream pie are few of the delicious sweet pies. Meat pies with fillings such as steak, cheese, minced beef or chicken and mushroom are popular in the United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand as take away snacks. They are usually served with chips as an alternative to fish and chips at British chip shops.
For making a flaky Pie crust by hand, in a large bowl, stir together about 2 ½ cups flour, 1 tbsp cider vinegar and ½ tsp salt. Cut 1 cup chilled butter into ½ inch pieces and add into the flour mixture. Using a pastry cutter, mix the flour mixture until the texture resembles coarse cornmeal. Add chilled water little by little and mix with a fork just until the dough pulls together.
Transfer the dough to a work surface and pat into a ball and flatten into a disk. (Although many dough recipes call for chilling the dough at this point, this dough should be rolled out immediately for the best results.) Lightly flour the work surface, flatten the disk with 6 to 8 gentle taps of the rolling pin. Lift the dough and give it a quarter turn. Lightly dust the top of the dough or the rolling pin with flour if needed, then roll out into a round at least 12 inches in diameter and about 1/8 inch thick. This makes enough dough for one 9-inch single-crust pie or one 10-inch galette. Roll out one disk into a 12-inch round as directed and line the pan or dish. Press any scraps trimmed from the first round into the bottom of the second disk. Roll out the second dough disk into a round at least 12 inches in diameter and about 1/8 inch thick and refrigerate until ready to use.
Tip: Pie dough can be made ahead and frozen for up to 1 month. To freeze, place the dough round on a 12-inch cardboard circle and wrap it well with plastic wrap. Alternatively, use the round to line a pie pan or dish, flute the edge and wrap well.
Use bread flour instead of all-purpose flour, and your crust becomes tougher. Add lard and shortening instead of butter or margarine, and your pastry will be somewhat flakier. Sprinkle in some sugar, and the dough becomes tendered. Maintaining consistent standards doesn’t prevent you from adding a twist to the taste. Personalize your pastry by adding some ground cinnamon, cardamom, or ginger. You can also enhance savory pies with a sprinkle of basil, cumin, or tarragon.