I've been making pies since I was a teenager, and I always made my crust by hand. Much as I loved my Cuisinart* (I've had it since 1980), I never used it for pie crust. Until recently. I find myself more and more inclined to take advantage of the "mod cons." Come to find out, I think my all-butter crust actually turns out better in the Cuisinart. Just don't over-process, especially after the liquid is added.
Aunt Sissy's Apricot Hand Pies (more widely known as Nana's Apricot Pies)
(Makes 12 5- to 6-inch pies)
2 6-ounce packages dried apricots
1 cup water
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
Pastry (see below)
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 Cut dried apricots into 1/4-inch strips (the short way, if the apricots aren't round). In 1.5-quart saucepan, combine apricots and water. Bring to boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer for 15 minutes. Stir in sugar, and return to boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer until most of the water has been absorbed and mixture is very thick, about 15 minutes. It will thicken more as it cools. Cover and refrigerate at least 2 hours, or up to 24 hours, before assembling pies.
2 While apricot filling is cooling, make pastry and chill two round disks of dough for 30 to 60 minutes. When ready to assemble, preheat oven to 400 degrees. Working with one at a time, cut each disk of dough into 6 wedges. Keep them in the freezer while you work with one piece at a time; butter pastry must be kept cold. Round the wedge of dough and, on a lightly floured surface with a lightly floured rolling pin, roll into a 5- to 6-inch circle. Using a saucer of that size as a guide (I use a 5.5-inch saucer), trim any strangely shaped edges.
3 Place 2 level tablespoons (I use a metal 1/8-cup measure) of apricot filling on one side of the circle. (You may portion out all the filling on a plate first--it's that thick--to ensure you don't end up with too much or too little for the last one.) Fold in half, pressing edges to seal (I like to finish with a fork). Place on a lightly greased or parchment-lined baking sheet. Repeat for total of 12 pies. In small bowl, mix sugar and cinnamon. Sprinkle pies with cinnamon-sugar. Bake at 400 degrees until golden, about 20 to 25 minutes.
Pastry (food processor method)
2 1/2 packed cups (12.5 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
2 sticks (1/2 pound) unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes and frozen for 10 minutes
2 tablespoons lemon juice or cider vinegar
Ice water to make 3/4 cup liquid
1 With metal blade in place, add flour, salt and baking powder to work bowl of food processor. Turn on for three seconds to combine. Add half the frozen butter and process for 10 seconds or until mixture has the consistency of coarse meal. Add remaining butter and pulse for six 1-second pulses, or until the frozen butter is the size of small peas.
2 In 3/4-cup measure, combine lemon juice and ice water. Pour over all of flour mixture; pulse for six 1-second pulses or just until dough forms large clumps; do not over-process. (The amount of water you will need depends on your climate and the moisture content of your flour. You may not need to use quite as much water as I do.)
3 Turn dough out onto work surface. Divide dough into two balls. Place each ball on a piece of plastic wrap and flatten slightly into a 4-inch round disk; double wrap; refrigerate for at least 30 minutes or up to three days. (Let thoroughly chilled dough stand at room temperature for 15 minutes before rolling.)