Pastry claiming to be flakey and fail-proof sound fishy to you? Me too, until I tried this oh-so-awesome recipe from Madame Benoit.
This time of year you need to have a great pastry recipe. So many people have shared with me their frustration in trying to make a pie. It is daunting and really discouraging if your pie crust lets you down. This recipe is golden!
A couple of summers ago, Ralph and I spent a lazy Sunday afternoon driving to nowhere on the back roads of the Kingston Peninsula. We passed an old general store that had reopened as The Book Place. A used book store, on a dusty old highway, I couldn’t resist.
I’ve often shared my love of cookbooks with you, so I’m sure it comes as no surprise that I’m constantly on the lookout for quality vintage cook books. “Quality” meaning full of culinary treasures. There’s a plethora of old cook books kicking around. Old by definition does not mean good.
I’ve made the mistake of buying antique recipe books only to find them full of terrible concoctions.
They end up being chucked into a donation box. To my delight, The Book Place had a huge cook book section. I scoured through hundreds of previously owned cooking bibles. Each one promising to share secrets and bests. When you own as many cook books as I do, you have to search hard to find a treasure. Peeking out from the bottom of a worn stack, I saw the word ‘Madame’.
I knew Julia Child never used a formal title so it could only be, and it was, Madame Benoit.
I was thrilled! I remembered watching her with Mom, on a black and white television, and loving her enthusiasm for whatever she was cooking. She was to Canadian food what Julia Child was to French food. Both of these great women decoded the soul of their respective cuisine expertise in a way that was approachable to the everyday cook.
Her hard covered cook book ‘Madame Benoit Cooks at Home’ was the best three dollars I’ve ever spent! The book is chock-a-block full of ‘secrets and bests’ from her grandmother and mother’s recipe boxes. The book, itself, is not vintage, being published in 1978, but the recipes are golden.
When I read this recipe, I chuckled because Mom had recently given me, word for word, the same one. She had it written on an old scrap of paper and couldn’t remember where she’d gotten it from. After years of sitting in her recipe box, she finally tested it. She loved how simple and flakey the pastry was and recommended that I try it.
With both my mother and Mme. Benoit’s approval, I knew it’d be fantastic. It is.
Pie pastry is tricky. If you’ve never been shown how to make it, there are landmines all over the place. Dough overworked, too much water, too little water, under baked; it goes on and on. The reason this recipe is so wonderful is there’s no guesswork. Three ingredients, simple instructions and you’ve got a flakey pie crust. If you’d like to make a double crusted pie, simply double the recipe. It doesn’t get any easier than this!
My instructions call for a food processor but you can see in the photos that I used a pastry blender and did it by hand. You decide.
Thanks for reading.
1½ cup all-purpose flour
1 cup butter, cubed into 1” pieces
½ cup sour cream, full fat
- Place the flour and butter in a food processor.
- Whiz on and off until coarse crumbs form.
- Add sour cream.
- Whiz just until dough starts to form a ball.
- Pour dough ball onto a clean work surface and form into a disk.
- Dust the disk with a little flour.
- Wrap tightly with plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes or up to a day.
- If dough has been in the refrigerator for more than 2 hours, let it sit for 5-10 minutes, at room temperature, to become more workable before you roll it out.
- To roll out your dough, sprinkle a clean, work surface with a little flour.
- Roll out to 1/8 inch even thickness.
- Roll the pastry onto your rolling pin, then unroll it onto the pie plate.
- Gently push the pastry into the pie plate with your finger tips.
- Crimp the edge and trim with a sharp knife.
- Your crust is ready to be filled.
THE LOVE: If you find the dough is sticky as you’re rolling it out, lift it up and sprinkle a little flour underneath. Not too much, you don’t want to toughen the pastry! Also, it's best to bake your pie in a pyrex plate so that you can see if the bottom is nicely browned.