From the middle of May until the end of November, I'm a pie girl. I have to restrain myself from eating it at every meal since my mother trained me from a very early age that leftover pie is fair game for breakfast. Sometimes we would even eat it straight from the dish: two forks, Sunday crossword. Heaven.
These days we're making pie constantly. The peach tree is heavy with fruit, most markets are carrying Italian Prune Plums, and the apples are just starting to get sweet on the branch.
Crust is another matter.
One can cheat, and use Pillsbury's handy refrigerated pie crusts and I will admit, in a pinch I've done it. But experimenting with crust recipes is a wonderful experience - one learns how working with different fats can enhance flakiness and tenderness, how the cool surface of a marble slab and chilled ingredients helps keep things firm, which gives a crust that magical mouth-feel.
Shirley Corriher, author of one of the best text-book like cookbooks, Cookwise, suggests using sour cream in a crust, to make it even more tender. This is an excellent multi-purpose crust that is surprisingly simple to make. Fill it with seasonal fruit that's been tossed with a few tablespoons of flour and sugar, and you have dessert (and maybe breakfast) covered.
What I don't love about this crust is that it suggests using instant flour like Wondra which isn't always easy to find and has been processed to high heaven. However, there are no chemicals added, just malted barley flour. What I do love about this recipe is that it doesn't use shortening. It promises a flakey, light crust while still using butter. The sour cream is key.
Sour Cream Pie Crust
(adapted from Shirley Corriher's Cookwise)
Makes enough dough for 2 single or one double 9-in crust
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 cup instant flour (Wondra or Shake & Blend) (if unavailable, add another 1/2 cup unbleached all-purpose to above)
1/2 teaspoon salt.
1/2 pound (2 sticks) butter, cut into 1/2" cubes
1 8-oz container sour cream
Mix flours together with salt. Add butter to flour mixture and toss to coat butter pieces. Put in freezer for 10 minutes.
Dump the flour-butter mixture on a counter (the cooler, the better) and roll over it with a rolling pin to flatten the butter lumps. Using a bench scraper, or gathering dough together with your hands, scrape dough together and roll over again. Repeat one more time, then scrape back into the bowl and place in the freezer for 5 minutes.
Dump onto the counter and roll and scrape together three more times. Place in the freezer for another 10 minutes, then gently fold in sour cream. The dough should be moist enough to hold together in a ball. (Add 1-2 tablespoons milk if needed to hold dough together.)
Shape into a ball, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before dividing in half and rolling out.
When crust is shaped in pie dish, proceed by pre-baking, or filling with fruit, according to your recipe.