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Mar 24, 2018
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In This Issue: How to make and lattice the perfect crust in 3 easy steps

August 26th 05:08pm, 2014



Pie may be the Midwesterner’s comfort food, but that doesn’t mean everyone can pull off that coveted flaky crust. How does one avoid the dreaded crumble?

A 2007 Cook’s Illustrated article popularized the use of vodka for a foolproof pie dough. In addition to alcohol, some pastry chefs have found other secret ingredients in their quest for the perfect crust.

One of these is lemon oil, which can tremendously enhance a berry pie crust, according to Marilyn Lynch, kitchen and catering manager of Mannino’s Market in Cottleville.

For a subtler flavor, give your crust a splash of apple cider vinegar (or even white vinegar) to achieve that light and flaky texture. “I like the flavor of apple cider vinegar better because it is more mellow,” said Pint Size Bakery’s Christy Augustin.

But a certain famous red-and-white-checkered cookbook, first published in 1930, includes a basic crust recipe that uses vegetable oil and milk. This oil pastry recipe continues to be published in contemporary editions of Better Homes and Gardens New Cook Book, and a devoted contingent of bakers swear by it.

However, for all-purpose pie crusts, the resounding wisdom – from culinary schools and restaurants across the U.S. to professional kitchens around St. Louis – is that the secret liquid ingredient most vital to creating a great pie crust is the easiest to obtain: ice water. “It’s really important that you have ice-cold water … and really cold butter,” Augustin said.

Cold is critical: Whichever recipe you select, pastry chefs stress the importance of using chilled ingredients, working quickly, and touching the dough gently and briefly to keep it from warming before it’s ready.

That fancy crosshatch of dough that decorates the top of a store-bought pie only looks intimidating. But weaving a lattice isn’t difficult to do yourself. Get lattice-savvy with these tips from the experts.


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-photo by Jonathan Gayman, illustrations by Vidhya Nagarajan

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