Using natural and simple ingredients, Yossy Arefi presents a collection of easy, heirloom-quality recipes for pies, tarts, preserves, and other sweets in her book Sweeter Off the Vine. She cherishes the fruit of every season and celebrates what’s fresh and vibrant any time of year, enhancing fruit’s enticing sweetness with bold flavors inspired by her Iranian heritage and using whole-grain flours like rye and spelt in her treats’ crusts. With desserts for all seasons, snacks to suit every taste, and visually-stunning photography in Arefi’s signature, earthy style, Sweeter Off the Vine is sure to delight throughout the whole year.
All pie crust is made from the same basic ingredients: flour, fat, water, and salt. I am partial to an all-butter crust because I think it tastes the best. The key to flaky pie crust is to keep the ingredients nice and cold—especially the butter and water—and to work quickly and intentionally. The small amount of apple cider vinegar in this recipe helps tenderize the dough by preventing the gluten in the flour from forming long strands, making the dough tough. I like to mix pie crust with my hands rather than a food processor or pastry blender because I can control the exact size and shape of the butter pieces for the flakiest results.
• 2-2/3 cups (340g) all purpose flour
• 1 teaspoon salt
• 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons (255g) very cold unsalted butter
• 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
• 8 tablespoons (120ml) ice water
Variations: You may need a bit more water to bind the dough for these variations.
• For a rye variation, substitute 1-1/3 cups (175g) rye flour for an equal amount of the all purpose flour.
• For a spelt variation, substitute 1-1/3 cups (175g) spelt flour for an equal amount of the all purpose flour.
1. Whisk the flour and salt together in a large bowl, cut the butter into 1/2-inch cubes, and add the apple cider vinegar to the ice water.
2. Working quickly, add the butter to the flour and toss to coat. Then use your fingers or the palms of your hands to press each cube of butter into a flat sheet. Keep tossing the butter in the flour as you go to ensure that each butter piece is coated with flour. The idea is to create flat, thin shards of butter that range from about the size of a dime to about the size of a quarter. If at any time the butter seems warm or soft, briefly refrigerate the bowl.
3. Sprinkle about 6 tablespoons of the icy cold vinegar-water mixture over the flour mixture. Use a gentle hand or wooden spoon to stir the water into the flour until just combined. If the dough seems dry, add more cold water a couple of teaspoons at a time. You have added enough water when you can pick up a handful of the dough and easily squeeze it together without it falling apart.
4. Press the dough together, then split it in half. Form each half into a disk, and wrap each disk in plastic wrap. Chill the dough for at least 2 hours before using, but preferably overnight. Keeps for up to three months in the freezer wrapped in a double layer of plastic wrap and a layer of foil. Thaw in the refrigerator before using.
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Reprinted with permission from Sweeter Off the Vine, by Yossy Arefi, copyright © 2016, published by Ten Speed Press, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC. Photographs copyright © 2016 by Yossy Arefi