After being an apple pie enthusiast for years, Handsome experienced the apple tart at Shields Tavern in Williamsburg, Virginia. After closing his eyes in rapture and being unable to speak for some time, he solemnly announced that the gauntlet had been thrown. THIS was the apple pie to beat.
I quickly started to work, trawling the vast ocean of the internet, looking for THE perfect pie crust. This was how I discovered The Pioneer Woman, as discussion board after comment section after blog kept resulting in:
"PW's is the best!"
"Here's a link to P-Dub's recipe!"
"The Pioneer Woman!"
And even the occasional, "Prairie Woman" reference. Anyway, I spent approximately the next 13 years reading about Marlboro Man and homeschooling and cowboy food on her website and then I got back to my search for pie crust.
Alton Brown figured in at one point. Taste of Home made its obligatory appearance. And I finally developed my own recipe. It's a beautiful thing and I've decided to share it with you. (Please start by purchasing a food processor or you will spend approximately the next 13 years cutting butter and shortening into flour. And nobody wants that for you.) Remember, with pie crust technique is just as important as ingredients.
Jeni's Perfect Pie Crust
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon sugar
1 stick butter
1/2 cup shortening
1/4 cup apple juice
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
Place the dry ingredients in a food processor bowl that has been fitted with the regular blade. Put the bowl in the refrigerator. Cut the butter and shortening into tablespoon-sized pieces and place them on a small plate in a random-ish pattern. Measure out the apple juice and pour in the vinegar. Place the juice mixture and the plate of butter/shortening in the freezer for 10 minutes.
When the time's up, put the food processor bowl on the base and pulse a few times to combine the ingredients. Add in the butter/shortening, half at a time, pulsing until the ingredients begin to come together. Then turn the processor on, and drizzle in the juice. It should only take about thirty seconds. The dough is ready at this point to be divided in half and placed on large squares of plastic wrap. It will be crumbly, but just draw the edges of the wrap over each portion of the dough, pressing it to make a disk. After this point, you have a few options:
To use right away, place the disks in the freezer for 20 minutes, then use them for your pie.
To use in the next day or two, place the disks in the refrigerator.
To use another time, place the disks, still in their plastic, into labeled zip-top bags and store in the freezer for up to three months. Thaw in the refrigerator before using.