The Shortcut to Crisp, Tender Pie Crust


The Shortcut to Crisp, Tender Pie Crust


When I first started to grate and press out short-crust pastry, rather than roll it, I’d show up to any breakfast or birthday with a pie in hand. I’d lurk near my dessert so I could read lips after people took their bites. “She’s a chef,” they’d say, to explain my dangerously tender, crisp crust.

I discovered the technique in the first professional kitchen I worked in, where I was charged with making the restaurant’s classic lemon tart. Terror that mine would be more “bake sale” than “Michelin star” was replaced by confidence and a baking obsession when I learned the simple secret behind their perfect pie. It’s rare that a shortcut actually makes food better, and this one does.
I’ve subsequently renounced flakiness, crimped edges and latticed lids in favor of grated crusts just thick enough to cradle wobbly curds, and tender enough that they crumble when I try to eat a slice like a piece of pizza, without a plate.

And I still feel the glow when my pie crust is praised — no longer at the suggestion that I’ve mastered the advanced skill of rolling out pastry perfectly , but rather, because I haven’t. For this reason I consider a box grater to be the great pie equalizer. Anyone can trade in the stress of “forming a disk,” of searching for a wine bottle to use as a rolling pin, of transferring torn pastry to its dish for this easy route to perfection.
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