But you can't start from nothing.
One option is to go find someone else's recipe and adapt it. But then there's a chance that the adaptation will cause the recipe to fail - because the recipe was probably already adapted from somewhere else.
Also, I don't want my blog to be full of recipes that are adapted from somewhere else. I'm fine with publishing recipes from cookbooks when they're part of a review. But I like creating recipes. I like originals. I don't mind using someone else's recipes in my kitchen, but I don't see any point in putting them on my blog. Someone else has already created the recipe. They should keep that glory.
So when I want to create a new recipe, I start with the skeleton, which is what Ratio gives me.
If you're not familiar with the book, the general idea is that there are some ratios that are important for certain elements in recipes. In baking, that might be flour, fat, and liquid. Maybe eggs, too. Once you know the ratios, you can adjust amount, change the type of fat, flour or liquid, or add extra ingredients.
Of course, there are ratios for other things besides baking recipes, but I use the book mostly for things that have flour in them.
So, when I want to make muffins (for example), I turn to Ratio to see what the important ingredients are, and how much of each I need. I adjust the amounts, add extras, and see what happens.
Even if you aren't creating your own recipes, Ratio can come in handy. Have you ever looked up a recipe and thought that it looked off, somehow? Did it seem like there was too much liquid or not enough flour? You can check out the ratios in Ratios and see if the recipe is likely to work.
Of course, the ratios aren't etched in stone. A little more or less will still work. But you don't want to go too far from the ratios if you want your cake to rise or your pastry to puff.
If you'd like your very own copy of Ratio, check out the instructions at the bottom of the post.
Ratio Pie Crust
The recommended ratio for pie crust is 3 parts flour, 2 parts fat, and 1 part liquid by weight. This recipe is what I did with the basic ratio. It makes enough for a double-crusted pie, or two single crusts or tarts.
6 ounces all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons sugar
8 ounces cold unsalted butter, cut in chunks
4 ounces apple liqueur, chilled
Additional water (cold), as needed
Put the flours, salt, and sugar in your food processor. Pulse to combine.
Add the butter and pulse until the pieces are the size of peas. With the processor running, add the chilled liqueur as fast as the flour will absorb it. The dough should come together in a ball. If it hasn't add additional water, as needed.
Since this recipe uses whole wheat flour, it tends to need more liquid. You could, of course, use all white flour, if you prefer. You also could use plain water instead of the apple liqueur. I was using it for an apple and pear tart, so the apple liqueur made sense.
But using alcohol makes sense for another reason. Water activates gluten; alcohol doesn't. You can have a wetter pie crust and work it more if you have alcohol in it, than if you have all water, and it will stay tender. If you don't want to add flavor, you can use vodka. Rum is also nice for many recipes. And sometimes I use my home-made vanilla.
Once the dough has started forming a ball (you don't have to wait until it's completely formed - just until you know it has that potential - remove the dough from the food processor and form it into a flat disk. Wrap it well in plastic wrap or put it into a plastic bag. Refrigerate for at least a few hours, or up to a day or two, before rolling out and using for your pie crust.
Tomorrow, there will be pie. Or rather, a tart. AND another giveaway. Because I'm generous like that.
CONTEST IS CLOSED! THANKS FOR LOOKING.
It's my birthday (week) and I'll give stuff away if I want to!
For your first entry, leave me a comment. Tell me what your favorite pie is. Mmmmm... pie.
For a second entry, tweet a link to this contest and then come back here and make another comment saying that you tweeted. Make sure you put @dbcurrie in your tweet so I can verify. Or put a link to your tweet here.
And that's it. Contest starts today (September 12, 2011) and ends one week from today (September 19, 2011) at midnight, Mountain time. Winners will be chosen randomly.
Note: I purchased the book for the giveaway, and I also purchased my own book. No freebies for me this time.