This can be used for sweet or savoury pies, and is highly versatile. But, it can be the bane of my life. It always seems to depend on the weather in the kitchen (whether or not the washing machine is running, and how cold, hot, and/or humid it is, and what my mood is). On a good day for me, it can be really light and crisp. On an off day, it can be a touch hard, but still really nice.
It just takes a bit of practice, and finding what works for you. I'm starting to get my technique sorted, so I'm not having as many mishaps. If you're in a bit of a hurry, make your dough beforehand...it'll store in the fridge for up to three days. But, if you're in a hurry and doing it for the first time...well, I wouldn't particularly advise it. It'll only shoot your nerves.
- 4 oz of plain flour
- 2 oz of butter (I prefer butter, but, you can use margerine, if needs must)
- 1 tsp of salt
- mug of cold water
- (This amount will make one layer of a pie. Double it if you need a top to your pie.
Mix together flour and salt. Using your fingers, rub the butter into the flour, until it resembles fine bread crumbs. Gradually add in the water, one tablespoon at a time, until you have a sticky dough (because of us using wheat/gluten free flour, this does best to be on the rather damp side of sticky). Wrap in cling film (If I've run out of cling film, a plastic grocery bag works just as well), and place in the fridge for a minimum of 30 minutes, to rest.
When you're ready to use it, pull it out of the fridge, unwrap, and, with floured hands (and, lightly dusting the dough and counter top), knead about 4 or 5 times.
For the bottom layer of a pie, I just press it into my 9" pie plate. I don't even mess with it. I press it in, making sure it's fairly even all over, so it goes up the sides and just goes over the 'lip' of the pie plate.
For a top layer, this is where I tend to loose my temper. I've tried many of the standard techniques...dusting the surface with flour, and flouring the rolling pin, etc. What I have found works best for me is to put the ball of dough in the middle of a good sized piece of cling film, layer another piece of cling film over the top, and roll it out, sandwiched between them. Make sure that you make it circular, and big enough to top your pie. To pick it up and get onto your pie: I don't take the top cling film off straight away...I roll it onto my rolling pin, and roll the pastry up with it, whilst peeling off the bottom layer of cling film. I try to be quite gentle about it, so I don't tear my pastry. Dampen the edges of your bottom pastry, where it will connect to your top pastry. I then take it over to my pie, and roll it over the top of it, then, remove the last of the cling film.
Press the edges together, and, lightly run a knife around the edge to trim off the excess. I then lightly press a fork around the edge to make sure it's sealed, and to give a nice effect.
Make sure to poke some vent holes in the top.
Bake at 180c, for about 35 to 45 minutes, until top is golden.