Happy First Night of Hanukkah! (however you prefer to transliterate it.)
Since this holiday is all about celebrating amazing oil that lasted for eight days rather than the expected one (the original energy-efficiency holiday, if you think about it), it’s generally traditional to serve something fried. I’m still working with the oil for this retro recipe attempt, but in a slightly different form…
Pie Crust. I have met very few people who say, “Oh, pie crust is really easy to make,” or “my homemade pie crust tastes amazing.” The general rule of thumb is that pie crust actually isn’t all that bad, but it does require some attention — in particular, you have to keep your fat of choice (butter, lard, and/or shortening) very cold while cutting it in, or utter disaster will result. I’ve also run into problems with overmixing or overworking the dough, resulting in a very dense, chewy, unappealing crust. And if your crust is mediocre, you need to have an absolutely amazing filling to save that pie.
I was pretty intrigued, therefore, by this advertisement I stumbled across which used oil, rather than very cold chunks of some sort of fat. It didn’t sound like it could possibly match the quality of “standard” crust methods, but the simplicity of just “stir and roll” really appealed to me — we had to try this.
2 cups sifted all-purpose flour, such as Gold Medal
1-1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 cup Wesson Oil
1/4 cup cold whole milk
1. Quick start for modern Stir-N-Roll pie crust: pour Wesson Oil and cold milk into measuring cup, and pour all at once into flour. There’s no digging out shortening, no packing to measure, Wesson pours to measure accurately. It is instant shortening with all the delicacy of finest salad oil.
2. No cutting in shortening — just stir to mix. Wesson blends in quickly and evenly. Even beginners find Stir-N-Roll pie dough easy to handle. Best of all, light, delicate Wesson Oil keeps its delicacy at high pie-baking temperatures. Your pie crust has home-baked flavor no mix can equal.
3. No mussy floured board. Roll your pie crust neatly between waxed papers. Even with moist, juicy fillings, your pastry keeps its tender crispness. And because Wesson Oil is lighter and more delicate than any other type of shortening, your pie crust is sure to be delicate, too.
Easy enough ingredient selection.
I had to include this picture, because oil and milk actually look pretty cool together.
This is the unmentioned first step. Really, the motto should be “pour, stir, and roll”…
And now we get to “stir.”
The stand mixer is a good tool for this job, too; turn on, pour liquid, and walk away for a minute. (Just in case you wanted to make a quick recipe even quicker.)
It very soon turns into a crumbly dough…
… which is quite easily formed into two separate balls for…
Handling is interesting. This is far easier to repair than a “traditional” crust — you just squish extra crust into the holes, pat it so it’s (more or less) flat, and it’s fixed. That’s good, because this crust rips very easily and is impossible to transfer into a pie pan without some damage.
The top crust didn’t brown very much during baking, but I also didn’t add any egg wash or such to help with that. (And yes, those are oak leaves, not holly leaves… my cookie cutter selection isn’t extensive, apparently.)
I like salty foods, but this is ridiculously salty. Other versions of “stir-n-roll” crust call for 1 teaspoon (which is plenty), so I don’t know what the heck happened here — rogue copy editor, or sabotage by the Morton’s Salt girl perhaps? A mincemeat pie at least has enough other flavors going on that you aren’t immediately killed by the salt. (I’ve made this a couple of times now, and reducing the salt is quite helpful!) Additionally, the crust ends up rather oily. This helps when you’re rolling in wax paper (it peels off super-easy), and it comes out of the pie dish easily, but it ends up sliding around on plates rather than sitting still.
Between the handling and the oiliness, this isn’t likely to be a contender for Best Pie Crust Ever. But it is a lot better than I expected. The flavor is good (when made with appropriate salt content), and it does actually manage to be somewhat flaky and tender despite not having any solid blobs of fat that melt in the oven (which is what I’ve always heard is the main trick to truly flaky crust — or biscuits, for that matter). So it’s not the best crust ever, but it’s pretty darn good — and pretty easy, too.