The air is getting crisp and the leaves are falling, autumn is fully underway here in north Louisiana! Living in Houston for thirteen years until last year I’m still surprised to actually see leaves beginning to change color in October, and having slightly chilly days semi-regularly. It is by no means like autumn in the more northern states, however I’m fully enjoying it. With the autumn weather is the constant feeling that it’s already Thanksgiving, which has left me wanting to get a head start on preparing for the holiday.
Last year I made Thanksgiving dinner for my entire family of six, my grandmother, and my aunt and uncle. It was wonderful to have the opportunity to make so much food and share it with everyone, however due to food allergies and health issues I ended up having to bake for four different diets. Four different variations of stuffing, both turkey and two chickens, four types of cranberry sauce, eight pies! My feet were so sore midway through the day whenever someone wasn’t around I’d quietly sing under my breath about the pain. Like normal people do.
I learned my lesson and this year I will be making preparations ahead of time and flash freezing them. Flash freezing is really simple! Just place foods in portion sizes in pans in the freezer on a really low temperature without letting them touch. They will freeze quickly and not stick together once fully frozen, so you can easily store them all together and just pull the amount you want out later on, without having to thaw a large container.
Today I am making my signature pie crust. I developed this recipe several years ago when my uncle was driving down to Texas to visit us. However the visit was a surprise to my dad, so I was baking ahead of time and then hiding the baked goods wherever I suspected he was least likely to look. The most anticipated treat? My family’s raisin meringue pie invented by my great-grandmother. It’s a custard pie with raisins and meringue on top and has been served at every Thanksgiving and Christmas in my family since my father’s childhood. I was nervous about changing the crust from the traditional butter, flour, water recipe, however after making some delicious Malaysian pineapple tarts I wondered what the results would be if I added egg yolk? That along with a couple other changes was a success! It was requested that I use that recipe from now on, so I now use it for every pie I make along with quiche, savory pot pies, and pretty much any excuse I can make to use a pie crust.
A few of my favorite things about this crust? It’s incredibly soft and flaky. And I mean incredibly, like no other crust I’ve tried before. It’s like little baking elves combined all the ingredients in just the right magical fashion. You know how some crusts can get really soggy and unappetizing if not prebaked? Not this crust! It always bakes beautifully, no matter the filling. Another wonderful thing about this crust? If using a good gluten-free flour, such as my sister Caroline’s blend (included below), it turns out just as well as the glutinous version. This was a life-safer last Thanksgiving when I was having to bake for so many diets. Everyone had the gluten-free crust and nobody could tell the difference!
- 1¼ cups all-purpose or gluten-free flour
- 1 cup cold butter
- 2 TBSP corn or tapioca starch
- 1 egg yolk
- 3-4 TBSP ice water
- In a large food processor combine the flour, cold butter, starch, and egg yolk. the mixture will be crumbly with clumps of butter.
- Add three tablespoons of ice water and pulse. Test the dough with your fingers. You want something that can easily be pressed into a ball and flattened again without falling apart or being dry. If it's a little dry or too crumbly add an extra tablespoon of water.
- Chill for at least 30min.