Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Sweet Oat Pie Crust

Ignore the lemon ooze. Gaze upon the flakiness.

For Easter, I bought a bunch of lemons to make a lemon tart. Then it turned out that you only need two lemons for a lemon tart, so I was left with many extra lemons. When I was picking out my lemon tart recipe, I also came across this other recipe for Shaker Lemon Pie. It essentially takes whole lemons, slices them up very finely, covers them in sugar and bakes them. I was intrigued and decided to experiment with my extra lemons. This might have resulted in a wonderful spring dessert, but for my two flaws: I am not a very patient person and I almost never read all the way through a recipe before I start. I know. It's a really, really bad habit. I have a tendency to skim, which often results in frantic grocery runs for ingredients I don't have or, in this case, realizing halfway through the recipe that you're supposed to let it sit for 24 hours. Twenty-four frickin hours. I didn't want a pie tomorrow, I wanted it now. So I sort of skipped that step. I only say sort of because I did let it sit for 20 minutes. I figured that was a decent compromise. It was not. Apparently if you actually let your lemons macerate for a whole day, the peels begin to breakdown into a sugary goo. When you only let them macerate for 20 minutes, that does not happen. So I ended up with a pie that had enormous chunks of unappetizing lemon peel.

Normally if I messed up a recipe that badly, I would not write about it on the blog. But it turns out my pie was not a complete waste. When I was making my pie crust, I decided to be a little bit adventurous and use oats. At the bottom of his "How to Cook Everything Vegetarian" entry on pie crust, Mark Bittman has a little note that you can add oats to the mix for a little bit of added texture. I thought this was a good idea. It turns out this is not just a good idea, it's a freakin brilliant idea. The oats give the crust a richer flavor and make it even flakier. This is now my go-to recipe for pie crust. Despite the grossness of the lemon pie, CCO and I have actually been eating it all week by cutting pieces, pulling out the inside and eating the pie crust.

Eat Rating: Awesome. It would be glorious on a berry pie. Just thinking about it makes me drool a little.
Difficulty: Medium. You will need a food processor or blender and rolling pin. A pastry scraper would be nice, too.
Adapted from "How to Cook Everything Vegetarian" by Mark Bittman
(Note: This recipe makes one 9 inch pie crust. If you are making a two-crust pie, just double.)

3/4 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup rolled oats (not quick cooking oats)
1 stick of cold butter, cut into pieces
3 tbsp cold water

Place the oats in the bowl of the food processor and pulse several times. You want the oats to be cut up into a chunky meal with pieces no larger than a grain of rice. Add the flour and pulse to mix. Cut up the butter into small pieces. I normally cut the butter into the 8 tbsp and then halve or quarter each tablespoon chunk. Add the butter to the food processor and pulse again. You should get a meally mixture that does not yet hold together. Add the water 1 tbsp at a time, pulsing between each addition. Eventually, the dough will form into a loose ball. Once you have a ball, lay out a piece of wax paper or parchment on the countertop and lightly flour. Remove the dough from the bowl of the food processor and roll in the flour to form a ball. With your hand, pat the top of the ball down so it forms a thick disk, then roll the disk on its sides to get a uniform edge. Fold up the sides of the parchment/wax paper around your disk and refridgerate for at least 1 hour. (If you're in a hurry, you can stick the disk in the freezer for half an hour. Just don't leave it in there longer than that or you'll need to defrost a little before using.)

When ready to use, remove the disk of dough from the fridge and unwrap. Generously flour your work surface. Roll out the dough with a rolling pin until it is slightly larger than your pie dish. Move the dough to the pie dish (To keep the dough from breaking when you try to move it, roll the dough back onto your rolling pin. Use the pin to transfer over to the pie dish, then unroll off the pin into the dish. This is really a good idea for this recipe since it tends to be a little bit more crumbly than regular dough). Prick all over with a fork to prevent bubbles. Either blind bake or fill according to your recipe.

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