Friday, August 27, 2010

Tomato Pie

Making Pie Dough and Tomato Pie
It may not be as hard as you think!

One of my favorite summertime dishes is Tomato Pie! All you need is mayo, cheese, and fresh tomatoes, green onions, and basil. It's not as hard as you might think to make your own pie dough, but you can always use store-bought, too.

Pie Dough

  • 1 c. flour
  • 1/3 c. vegetable shortening
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2-4 TB cold water

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. 

Mix the flour, salt, and shortening together. 
This is most easily done with a pastry cutter/blender; however, you can also use two knives or even just your hands.

If it's particularly warm at your house, you may want to chill the flour, shortening, and even the pastry cutter and bowl before using them for pie. However, I don't do this, and I've had no problem making pie dough. (Our house stays between 68 and 78 degrees.) 

Blend the flour, salt, and shortening together until the mixture looks like crumbs. You don't want areas with plain flour - the entire mixture should be lumpy, like in this photo. 

Do not overwork the flour and shortening.
In fact, that instruction goes for this whole process: handle the dough as little as possible, to keep it from getting tough.

Add 2 TB of cold water and mix it in with a fork. 
Continue adding water until the dough begins to all clump together.

What you're going for is the dough being willing to clump together. Your goal here is to have it just tacky enough to make a ball.

My mom says to just use 2 TB of cold water, but I find that I have to use double that amount.
You should not have any dry flour hanging out in the bottom of the bowl when you're done.

See how it's forming into bigger balls in the photo above? As you stir, you should see the loose flour/shortening bits picked up and formed into balls.

Use your hands to form a big ball with all the dough. If some of it won't join the ball, then it's too dry. You can add a bit of water to the dry parts left in the bowl, mix it with the fork, then add it to the ball.

As you make the ball of dough, shape it a bit like a mushroom cap - have an indentation on the bottom. This will help as you roll out the dough.

Place your dough ball on a floured surface.
  • This is what a pastry cloth is for. If you're making pie dough regularly, go ahead and get or make one. A cotton pillowcase will do the job, too. 
  • When you're done with the pastry cloth, scrape or shake off loose flour/dough bits, then fold it & put it in a ziptop bag, and put it in the freezer. This will keep little beasties from making it their new home. 

Roll out the dough with a floured or covered pin.

Start at the center and roll out to the edge. Let's call that direction north. Now come back to the center and roll out south. Then east, west, north-east, south-west, north-west, south-east ... get it? You just go around and around, from the center out.

My dough never comes out perfectly circular, and the world has not yet stopped. So, don't worry about it if yours isn't perfect either.

If you're not sure if the dough is big enough yet, just place your pie tin on top. You want the dough to extend past the pan, like in the photo to the right.

Now, you should be able to fold the dough in half, pick it up, and place it in the pie dish. I'll be honest with you, though... it took me about 2 years of making pie dough to be able to do that. For years, I could not use a glass pie dish, because my method was to lay the dish upside-down on the dough, sneak my hand under the pastry cloth, and whammo! flip the whole thing over.


The goal is simply to get the dough in the pan, whether you fold and lift or do a whammo! flip-it-all-over method.

Do not cut off the spare edges!  Instead, moisten the edge, then fold all the extra over to make a nice, tall pie edge.

Flute the edges. Use your thumb and first two fingers and press all around to make it more stable.  

If you were making a covered pie, you would fill the pie then cut the edge. Then you would moisten the flat edge before adding the top piece.

What if the dough cracks? Add a bit of water and stick it back together!

Prick the dough, then bake it. Use a fork to prick the dough all over, then bake it for 25 minutes at 425 degrees.

As you can see, my dough got a bit too brown... ah, well.

The dough is now ready to be filled. What shall we fill it with? Tomato Pie, of course!

Tomato Pie
  • 4 tomatoes, peeled and sliced
  • 8-10 fresh basil leaves, sliced
  • 1/3 c. chopped green onions
  • 1 c. shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1 c. shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1 c. mayonnaise

Set your oven to 350 degrees. 

Bring a pot of water up to a simmer; place the tomatoes inside for a few minutes. Using tongs, remove the tomatoes and place them in a bowl of ice water. The peel should now slide easily off!

Layer the tomatoes, green onions, and basil inside the prepared pie shell. Isn't that pretty?

Mix together the cheeses and mayo, then spread that on top.

Okay, now it looks less attractive. It'll be delicious, though!

Bake for 30 minutes at 350 degrees, or until browned on top.

The pie will hold its heat well, so you can plan to have it come out of the oven as much as 30 minutes before you're ready to serve, if needed.

And that's it! All told, it takes me about 20 minutes to get this pie in the oven.

Let me know how it works out for you. I'd be glad to help trouble-shoot any pie dough preparation troubles you're having.

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