Pie dough…I’ve made it before, enough times in fact, that I feel confident making it. I prepared a batch from the standard recipe that I had found online a million times before, one that I believed that I liked, for the restaurant last week and while it baked up nicely, Matt asked me, “What’s your ratio of butter to flour?” A question that I could not answer. Baking is all about proper ratios, butter to flour, egg to cream etc. Baking is a precise chemical reaction and it is essential that you have the correct weights and measures in order to attain the appropriate texture, consistency, moistness…the list goes on.
This is, admittedly, why baking has never been my thing (until recently). You have to do math or at least be familiar with some basic mathematical concepts if you are going to formulate your own successful recipes. (A great reference for baking ratios is Michael Ruhlman’s book, aptly titled Ratio, buy it here.) Plus all the measuring and the inevitable mess, it just didn’t seem fun. I like sauteeing, frying, chopping, flying by the seat of my pants in the kitchen! Plus, I have much more of a savory tooth than a sweet one. But I will tell you what, nothing and I mean nothing, gives you a more accomplished feeling than pulling a perfect pie, tart, souffle or loaf out of the oven. You feel like you should have earned a medal or at the very least a pat on the back and a look of utter satisfaction on your taster’s face. Plus, breaking down baking and cooking to basic ratios really simplifies things! That came as a huge surprise to me!
Feeling a bit sunken after comparing my pie dough to the head chef’s I asked him what his ratios were for a perfect pie dough and it couldn’t be easier. 1-2-3. 1= water, 2= flour, 3= butter, BOOM!
With this knowledge in my hands, I embarked on a journey to make perfect pie dough and use it for all things that are good in this world: a tart stuffed with beet greens and goat cheese and a delightfully seasonal twist on a classic apple pie with sage brown butter! Follow me into crusty heaven!
Rosemary Pie Dough
Makes enough for two 9 x 1.5 pies, plus some
My ratio here is 4 – 8 – 12
- 4 ounces, by weight, water
- 8 ounces, by weight, all purpose flour
- 12 ounces butter (3 sticks), cut into cubes and parked in the freezer
- 3 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary
- 1 teaspoon salt
Combine the flour, salt and rosemary in a large mixing bowl and either whisk it or run a pastry blender through it to combine thoroughly. Add one and a half sticks of the cubed, frozen butter and cut into the flour with the pastry blender until the flour mixture resembles coarse bread crumbs. This first round of butter we want to be really cut into the flour and into pieces slightly smaller than a pea. Now, add the second half of the butter and cut into the flour with the pastry blender as well, however this time we don’t want the butter to be demolished into tiny pieces. This round we want the butter to remain in large-ish chunks, about the size of grapes. Now, slowly drizzle in the water and stir with your fingers to combine. The mixture will still be loose and a little sticky. Turn out onto a floured board and knead just until the dough forms a cohesive ball. Wrap tightly with plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator for at least half an hour.
Beet Greens and Chevre Tart
- 1/2 batch Rosemary Pie Dough
- 4 cups each greens from purple and golden beets, washed thoroughly and rough chopped
- 1 shallot, minced
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 teaspoon red pepper flake
- 2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
- zest of one lemon
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 4 ounces chevre, divided in half
- 1/4 cup buttermilk
- 1/2 cup creme fraiche
- 2 tablespoons whole grain mustard
- 2 eggs
- olive oil, salt and pepper to taste
Begin by rolling out your pie dough to an 11-12 inch circle. Press dough into a greased 9 x 1.5 inch tart shell and trim the excess. Place the fitted tart shell back into the fridge until your filling is ready.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. In a deep skillet, heat a few teaspoons of olive oil until shimmering. Add the shallot, garlic and red pepper flake to the skillet and saute 2-3 minutes until softened and beginning to turn golden brown. Add the beet greens to the skillet and stir gently to start them wilting. When wilted about half way, add the balsamic vinegar to the pan to deglaze, continue stirring until fully wilted. Stir in the butter and lemon zest and season with salt and pepper to taste. Remove from the heat and allow to cool.
While the greens are cooling, prepare the custard by cracking the eggs into a large mixing bowl. Add the buttermilk, creme fraiche, mustard and 2 ounces of the goat cheese and season with salt and pepper. Whisk until smooth. When the greens have cooled most of the way, stir them into the custard.
Remove your tart shell from the refrigerator and pour in the filling, smoothing it out into an even layer. Crumble the remaining two ounces of goat cheese evenly over the top and crack on a little more black pepper. Bake in the oven for 40- 45 minutes until the crust is a nice golden brown, the goat cheese is beginning to brown on top and the custard is set. Allow to cool for a few minutes before slicing. Enjoy!
Rosemary Crusted Apple Sage Brown Butter Pie
(Boy, that’s a mouthful, huh?)
- 1/2 batch Rosemary Pie Dough
- 3 granny smith apples, thinly sliced
- juice and zest of one lemon
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon each ground ginger and freshly grated nutmeg
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
- 1 tablespoon all purpose flour
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 2 leaves of fresh sage
- about a tablespoon of white sugar
- pinch of salt
Begin by cutting one quarter of your pie dough off and setting it aside. Roll out the remaining three quarters to a 10.5 to 11 inch circle and press into your greased pie pan. Trim the excess and place into the refrigerator until the filling is ready. Roll the one quarter sized piece of dough out as thin as you can get it and using a pizza cutter, cut into long thin strips for the lattice top.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. In a small pot over medium heat, melt the butter. When melted, add the sage leaves and continue heating the butter until it begins foaming. Swirl the pan gently on the heat until the butter begins to turn a nice golden brown and the sage leaves start to crackle. This will happen very fast so don’t look away! As soon as the butter is a nice golden brown and some of the butter solids have begun to sink to the bottom of the pot, remove from the heat and continue to swirl until the butter has cooled slightly. Pour into a large mixing bowl and discard the sage leaves.
Add the sliced apples to the bowl with the sage brown butter and toss to coat. Next, add the lemon juice, lemon zest, brown sugar, all of the spices and the flour. Stir to thoroughly combine. You will know you stirred enough when the brown sugar and spices and the butter and lemon juice have formed a thick goo that should cling evenly to the apples.
Remove your pie shell from the fridge and fill it with the apples, spreading them out into an even layer. Lay three to four of your thin dough strips vertically, evenly spaced, across your pie. Now take three to four more strips and lay them horizontally across the already in place strips of dough. Then lift up the vertical dough strips, tucking some of the horizontal ones underneath and leaving some across the top to form a weaved lattice pattern across the top of the pie. This will be a lot easier if you start from the middle and work out! When complete, lightly press the ends of the strips into the bottom crust. Sprinkle the strips liberally with sugar.
Bake in the oven for 45-50 minutes until the crust is golden brown and the pie goo is hot and bubbly!! Top with vanilla ice cream and salted caramel and you have got yourself a treat!!
Bonus: If you find yourself with any left over pie dough, roll out thinly and cut into thin strips similar to the lattice top and bake as is for a lovely rosemary cracker!
I sincerely hope you give this rosemary pie dough a chance to develop/reinforce your love for baking!