I have talked before about making pie crust but I thought today, in honor of the great pie holiday Thanksgiving, I would show you some photos of the process. Maybe this little pie crust tutorial will inspire you to make your own pie crust, too.
But first, a little pie crust history. My mother was the Queen of Pies in our family. She loved to cook and bake all kinds of things but pies were her true specialty. She just enjoyed the hell out of baking and serving pies. She was decorating her pies with leaves and such way before Martha, too. Just saying.
Anyway, growing up with the Pie Queen as a mom is sort of intimidating and I was scared to death of making my own pie crust. I’ll admit that I was rather content to just let my mom do it – I didn’t need to compete with that. This approached worked just fine until Thanksgiving 1996. Two things happened that year to make me change my mind about making my own pie crust. The first was that my mom was diagnosed with colon cancer, stage III. The second was that it was my first Thanksgiving with Dale. I really wanted to impress him with a home baked pie and I really wanted to make sure that I learned to make pie crust from the Pie Queen before she, well, to put it bluntly, died.
So, I made my first pie ever in 1996. And I haven’t looked back since! You want to know my secret for getting over my fear of the pie crust? I told myself, “self, it’s just flour, water and shortening. If you screw it up you can throw it out and start over.” I swear, I haven’t had a problem with pie crust since I adopted that attitude.
Here’s my recipe. It’s not exactly my mom’s, I’ve adapted it to my own specifications over the years.
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (I use King Arthur)
1 tsp white sugar
1 tsp salt
1 cup solid vegetable shortening
1/3 cup plus 1 T ice water
So, mix the flour, sugar and salt in a bowl. Then add the shortening in chunks. Like this:
Now get out that pastry blender (please don’t use two knives and you don’t need a food processor either) and start cutting the shortening into the flour. Keep working it until it looks like this:
See how the shortening is all mixed in and it looks all crumbly? That’s perfect.
Time to add that ice water. It’s important that the water is ice water. I don’t know why but it’s what my mom said so it’s what I do. So, you just pour that ice water over the flour mixture. I use the side of a rubber spatula to start mixing it all together. If the dough starts to stick together in clumps then you’ve added enough water. If not you can add another tablespoon or two of water but you don’t want it to be sticky so be careful with this part.
It looks like this when it’s done:
Divide the dough in half and stick each half on a piece of plastic wrap. Press it into a disc and wrap it up and stick it in the fridge for a while – like this:
Leave it there for at least a half an hour but up to 2 days. You can also freeze it at this point and then when you’re jonesing to make a pie all you’ve got to do is defrost your crust.
After the dough has chilled it’s time to roll it out. This is the fun part! Sprinkle some flour on your counter top and on your rolling pin and start rolling that disc into a bigger circle.
I don’t worry too much about the thickness of the crust. Generally, when it’s big enough to fit into the pie pan then it’s the right thickness, too. I fold it over my rolling pin and then plop it into my pie plate. Press it down into the bottom and up the sides – gently, don’t tear it! And then, if it’s a single crust pie, fold over the edges and make a nice fluted design. If you’re making a double crust pie then add your filling and then roll out the top crust and lay it gently over the top. Tuck the top crust under the edges of the bottom crust and then make that pinched fluted design again.
Proceed with whatever type of pie you’re making. For this Thanksgiving I’m making apple, pumpkin, mincemeat, cranberry pecan and chocolate cream. Come on back tomorrow so I can wish you a Happy Thanksgiving and show you some photos of those pies!