If you run screaming to the grocer’s frozen food section rather than face making a pie crust from scratch, this is for you. Don’t believe the propaganda that has been spread about making pastry. It only takes a few ingredients and no special appliances. If you have a $7.00 pastry blender, you’ll be making pie crust with the master chefs. Just remember KISS:
Keep it cold: water, shortening and butter
Indulge in pastry flour
Save the counter. Use waxed paper.
Store the crust in the refrigerator for 30 minutes before rolling.
You can also freeze butter and solid Crisco. Then you can chop the required amount into tiny pieces or grate them on a cheese grater. Pop this back into the freezer until ready to use.
Pastry flour (available from King Arthur Flour) makes a big difference in your final product. You can use regular flour, but if you are into pie making, I’d order some pastry flour.
I always roll out my pie crust on floured waxed paper. Then I just have to flip it into the pan and peel the paper off the dough. It is much easier to handle. I've tried folding it in fourths and all the other tricks, but the waxed paper works the best. Roll your dough from the center, out. Don’t roll off the edges. Work the rolling pin in all directions, keeping the dough in a circular shape.
If you are making a fluted edge on the pie, allow about 1 inch of dough overhang. If you’re not into fancy edges, just trim the dough (with a sharp knife) even with the edge of the pie pan and mark the edge with a fork imprint.
Store you piecrust in the freezer while preparing the filling. If you are making a pre-baked pie crust (referred to as blind baking), place the crust lined pan into the freezer for 30 minutes before baking. After pricking the bottom with a fork, I usually put a liner of foil against the bottom and sides of a pre-baked pie crust to keep the sides upright. Place in oven to cook. Remove the foil for the last few minutes of baking.
If you are making a pie that will not have a pre-baked crust, then put the fully assembled pie in the freezer for 30 minutes before baking. All this chilling of the dough makes for a more tender and flakey crust.
Slits and cutouts help release the steam from the baking pie. Every pie with a top crust should have slits or cutouts. I like to brush the unbaked top crust with milk and then sprinkle it with coarse sugar crystals. If you are making a custard pie, brush the bottom crust with a beaten egg before adding filling. No one likes a soggy bottom, and neither does your pie. Don’t place hot filling into your pie crust.
When I make an apple pie, I always cook the apples and sugar in the microwave for about 8 minutes to determine how much liquid it will make. Then I can add the appropriate amount of flour so it will thicken. If there is way too much liquid, I can discard part of it. This method works well with other fruits fillings. If you want to be extra cautious, sprinkle the bottom of the crust with 1 tablespoon flour mixed with 1 tablespoon granulated sugar.
The trick to great pie crust is not to work the dough too much, or add too much flour. Rolling it out on waxed paper makes it extra easy. I make large batches of dough and freeze them in single crust servings. It really speeds up the pie making process.
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
⅔ cup Crisco
2 tablespoons Crisco
Mix flour and salt, cut in shortening with pastry blender.
3 tablespoons cold water
1 tablespoon lemon juice
Sprinkle with water and lemon juice. Add only enough to moisten dough. Form into ball and divide in two. Roll half of dough on floured waxed paper until 1 inch larger than inverted pie pan. Use a little extra flour if the dough is too sticky. Gently turn dough over and set in pan, peel waxed paper off. Pop it in the freezer while you prepare the filling.
Fill the pie and make top in same way. Fit over filling, seal edges and flute. Bake as directed for the filling. If you love the flavor of butter, just use 2 tablespoons of butter in place of the 2 tablespoons of Crisco. You get the same tender, flakey crust. Or add 1 tablespoon granulated sugar for sweeter dough.
1 cup flour
½ teaspoon salt
⅓ cup Crisco
1 tablespoon Crisco
Mix flour and salt and cut in Crisco with pastry blender.
1 tablespoon cold water
1 tablespoon lemon juice
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Sprinkle on water/juice as needed and mix well. Roll out dough. Place in pan and flute edges and prick bottom of pastry or use pastry rocks. Chill for 20 minutes. Bake 475° for 8-10 minutes. Cool and fill as desired.
This year, instead of cutting in the shortening by hand, I made the dough in the food processor. It was very fast and efficient. I did not need to use as much water, so add this sparingly.
My all-time favorite pie tip is to make one additional single recipe of dough per 2-3 pie crusts. Then you never need to worry about having rolled out dough that is not a wide enough circle.
I have purchased enough glass pie pans so that I can roll out all the dough and form crusts and freeze them in the pan. If you don't mind disposable tins, that works, too. You can also just freeze the dough in flat discs. Wrap these for the freezer. I wrap the dough or loaded pie pans in plastic wrap and then double bag them in polypropylene bags. (I don't use Ziplocks or Baggies because I think they make the food taste funny.)