Flaky Pie Crust

Yesterday, Dr. Science polished off the lemon coconut cake, so I made a mixed-berry pie. (There were three slices left less than 24 hours after it came out of the oven.) Dr. Science dug into his first slice and said, “This crust is really flaky!” My reaction should’ve been “I don’t know why; I didn’t do anything different.”

But I did do something different. Actually I did three things different, and who knows which one(s) made the crust extra flaky?

Between all the social excitement and work, the last week has been pretty full, and I’ve been sleeping badly, so by yesterday I was pretty tired. Julia always wants you to chill the shortening before you use it in pie or tart dough, and yesterday afternoon I thought to stick the can in the freezer, intending to make pie dough a little later.

By the time I got around to it, it was about 7:00 and I was too tired to do my usual mise en place of cubing the butter and weighing the shortening. I got the ice cubes in the measuring cup and filled that with water, put it in the freezer, and got out the shortening. Then I weighed the flour and added the salt and whisked them together and weighed in the shortening. I was too tired to get out the pastry cutter, so I mixed in the shortening with my fingers. Then I used a dinner knife to cut the butter into chunks, and I mixed that in with my fingers. Then I added the water, patted the dough together, and put it in the fridge to chill.

So what made the difference? Chilling the shortening? Not cubing the butter? Mixing in the fat by hand? Who knows? Maybe it was just a fluke.

I won’t be experimenting tomorrow to find out, though, because tomorrow’s baking is going to be carrot cake.


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