Mom's "No Fail" Pastry


My Mom was known from far and wide for her incredible baking skills and her specialty...pies! One skill in particular was her ability to turn out the lightest, flakiest pie crust that was rolled out to the perfect thickness and baked to a golden brown! I used to watch my Mom's hands lightly flit here and there, shaping and trimming the pastry, never wanting to overwork the dough...she was definitely a sight to see, smiling away doing what she did best!

I remember when I was 12, I decided to surprise my Mom with an apple pie...I didn't have this recipe back then and after watching Mom attempt several times to slice it, we burst out laughing as she exclaimed that we would need a jackhammer to cut into it!! I miss my Mom and the comfort I felt as I watched her work away in the kitchen...to this day, I use her pastry recipe and it turns out perfect every time...and no need for a jackhammer! :)

To make Mom's "no fail" pastry, you will need 4-3/4 cups (possibly 5 cups if your dough feels too sticky) of all purpose flour (and a little extra for dusting your work surface), 1 lb. of vegetable shortening, chilled (such as "Crisco"). 1 tsp. of salt, 1 egg, 1 tbsp. of white vinegar and 1 cup of ice water...the tools you will need are: a rolling pin, pastry blender (or 2 knives to cut the shortening into the flour), a flour sifter (if you have one) and measuring cups & spoons.

In a large bowl, add the all purpose flour (if you don't have a sifter, lightly spoon the flour into a 1 cup measuring cup, levelling off the top with the back of a knife...add each levelled cup to your large bowl until you have the correct amount of flour called for in the recipe). Next, add 1 tsp. of salt...stir with a fork to incorporate the salt into the flour.

Next, take 1 lb. of chilled vegetable shortening and slice it into chunks (it's easier to blend into the flour if it's in pieces),

Toss the pieces of shortening into the flour all at once and using a pastry blender (or 2 knives), cut the shortening into the flour until mixture resembles coarse, pea sized crumbs. Set aside.

In a small measuring pitcher, add some ice to 1 cup of cold water...set aside.

In a separate measuring pitcher, add 1 whole egg and 1 tbsp. of white vinegar...

...whisk with a fork.

Measure out 1 cup of ice water...

...and pour into the egg mixture...stir with a fork until combined.

Make a well in the centre of your flour mixture and pour in the water/egg mixture, then stir with a fork until a sticky dough forms.

Next, using your hands (I believe most people appreciate it if you use clean hands), lightly work in the flour...the dough will not be smooth...it will look kind of ragged at this stage. If all of the flour is not worked in, don't worry...it's better to have a slightly stickier dough at this point because you will be using extra flour for dusting your rolling pin and work surface. Dry pastry, is a pain in the arse to roll out and hard to keep from falling apart, not to mention less than palatable, ...I can't stress enough how little you need to "work" the dough...remember, over worked pastry = jackhammer!!

Next, turn the pastry dough out onto a piece of plastic wrap or waxed paper, lightly shape into a log and wrap up in the waxed paper...place in the fridge for an hour or two.

Remove dough from fridge and slice into six, 2 inch (approximately) slices.

Wrap unused pastry discs in plastic film...

...and place wrapped up discs in a large Ziploc bag and store in the freezer until ready to use for another day.

Each disc will make a single crust for an 8-9 inch pie shell...use 2 for a double crust pie (end pieces are a bit smaller, use those for the "lids" of a pie).

The next series of steps will be on how to roll out the dough...if you already know how to roll out pastry like it's nobody's business, then scroll on down to get to the good stuff...the Giveaway!!

Sprinkle your work surface and rolling pin with a bit of flour then roll out your dough, pressing down very lightly with the rolling pin as you roll...pressing down too hard will make the dough stick to the work surface.

Next, roll the dough onto the rolling pin (this makes it easier to flip over)...

...and sprinkle the work surface with a bit more flour,

...then flip dough over onto the work surface...(the side that was facing down during the first roll, should be facing up now).

Lightly dust surface with flour (this will prevent the rolling pin from sticking to the dough),

Continue with the rolling and flipping over procedure, until you have reached the desired size

If you are making a pie, place a pie plate on top of the rolled out dough...there should a couple of inches of excess pastry that will overhang when you place it in your pie plate.

Roll the dough up onto the rolling pin again and then unroll it onto the pie plate...this trick eliminates the chance of your fingers poking through your rolled out dough if trying to move it onto the plate by hand...see the handy little tricks that I know?!

Lightly press the pastry down onto the pie plate...(it really is scary how not dainty my hands and forearms are...what happened there?!)

...then, using the thumb of your left hand, push the dough into the "v" of your thumb and forefinger of your right hand (do it the opposite way, if you are left handed)...continue doing this all around the circumference of the pie until it is all crimped.

Next, trim around the edges with a sharp knife to remove excess dough.

* Tip: roll out scrap dough, lightly spread on some butter, then sprinkle brown sugar and cinnamon over top. Roll up "jelly roll" style, slice into rounds and bake at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes...and in a jiffy, you have "Tidbits"...my brother and I used to fist fight over these...we were very violent back then!

...and there ya have it...Mom's old school, "No Fail" Pastry...light and flaky every time!

(If you are making a pie that requires a single crust that needs to be baked before filling, prick the top with a fork, to prevent the pastry from bubbling)...Enjoy!

Mom's "No Fail" Pastry

4-3/4 cups of all purpose flour, sifted (you may need 5 cups if your dough is too sticky)

1 tsp. of salt

1 lb. of vegetable shortening, chilled (such as "Crisco")

1 cup of ice water

1 whole egg

1 tbsp. of white vinegar

1. In a large bowl, combine your flour and salt.

2. In a separate bowl, whisk together the ice water, egg and vinegar.

3. Make a well in the centre of your flour mixture and pour in the water/egg mixture. Stir with a fork until a sticky dough forms, then gently work with hands until most of the flour is incorporated and you are left with a rough ball of dough.

4. Wrap in waxed paper and chill for an hour or 2.

5. Remove from fridge, slice into discs and wrap each disc in plastic then place in the freezer until ready to use.

* Recipe makes enough pastry for 2-3 double crust pies or about 5 single crust pies (with some leftover scraps for "Cinnamon & Sugar Tidbits").

* Pie dough can be kept in the fridge for about 2 days (well wrapped) or in the freezer for up to 3 months...if you are freezing pie dough that has been rolled out into a pie plate...you do not need to thaw before baking.

* Oven temperatures will vary depending on what you are using your pastry for...check your recipe instructions for baking directions.

...AND since I just gave out my Mom's recipe, I thought I would kick it old school some more and give away some vintage pastry making tools!! (this giveaway is now closed)

Vintage kitchen tools are my absolute favourite...I have a collection from my Mom, Gramma, Aunt and from many trips to the auction...so, thought I would give some away to one lucky winner today!

This 10 inch, heavy duty, classic stoneware mixing bowl is the perfect size for making a batch of pastry, bread or anything else you want to whip up...it looks pretty out on display too...very rustic!

When I picked up this antique solid maple rolling pin, I envisioned a woman in a farm kitchen, wearing a flowered apron, rolling out pastry for a hungry crew of ranch hands! I have a vivid imagination!

This 9 inch, enamelware pie plate bakes pies up to perfection...I have a collection of these tins and I won't use anything else...old school is good school I tell ya!

...and finally, this vintage pastry blender has beautiful wooden handle and fine wires to cut butter or shortening into your flour, creating flaky pastry and fluffy biscuits every time!

Giveaway Rules (this giveaway is now closed)

1. Simply type in your first name (with or without a comment, and your email address in the spaces provided below your name) in the "comments" section at the bottom of this page. Your email address will not be made public...only I can see it providing you don't add your email to the box where your name or comment goes.

2. If you do not enter an email address, your entry will not be considered as it is necessary for me to contact the winner.

3. You do not need to be a subscriber to win, anyone may enter.

4. The winner will be randomly drawn on Sunday, June 19th, 2016...the winner will be contacted by email for further shipping details

5. Only one entry per person, thanks! :)

6. Good luck!!

*WINNER of this Giveaway is Elicia P.! Congratulations :)