Sunday, July 25, 2010

How To Make A Pie Crust

Every time I do a post about baking a pie, I get questions regarding how to make your own pie crust. And comments calling me crazy things like "amazing" and "Martha." And while the compliments are flattering, they are unnecessary. Making your own pie crust is a very simple process. I don't use a food processor. I know that Martha and Ina both use theirs but I tried it one year and I just didn't like it as much as using my own two hands. I've been making pie dough for longer than I can remember. I started standing and walking on the same day, as the story goes. Apparently I felt crawling and bobbling about was for babies. I have to assume around that time is when I first made a ball of pie dough. If baby KK can make pie dough, you can too!

Here are your ingredients. All Purpose Flour (but this is all I had on hand), sugar, salt, Crisco and ice water. As far as tools, you will need a pastry cutter (but if you don't have one, please feel free to use two dinner or butter knives), a knife, a rolling pin, plastic wrap and a bowl.

Step 1: Two cups of flour go into your bowl.

Step 2: Add 1 teaspoon of sugar to bowl.

Step 3: Add 1/4 teaspoon salt to bowl.

This is a pastry cutter. If you don't own one, you can easily use two knives or forks instead.

Step 4: Take your pastry cutter or a fork or whisk and sift the flour a bit. Mix up those three ingredients.

This is Crisco. I use butter flavor and buy the sticks because they are less messy and have measurements on the side just like a stick of butter. Don't be afraid of Crisco. Seriously, it's OK. I know Martha and Ina have been seen using butter but my family did a taste test a few years back (I was serious when I told y'all we are a pie snob family! For Thanksgiving and Christmas, there are only two people allowed on pie duty, me and my aunt. We are serious about pie!) and we unanimously agreed that Crisco was far superior. It's a pie my friends, don't skimp. It's not like you are going to eat one every day. Also, it's best if your Crisco is refrigerator cold.

Step 5: Cut off 3/4 of a cup of Crisco. Peel open the wrapper, just like butter. Cut the Crisco into cubes (or small pieces- it's soft so it won't be perfect) and toss in your bowl.

Step 6: Take your knife (even if you will be using a pastry cutter) and run it through the flour covered Crisco pieces. Softly chop chop chop the Crisco into small pieces, mixing with the flour.

It will now look like this. Small beads of fat and flour.

Step 7: Slowly add in the ice water. And by ice water, I mean ice cubes in a cup of water. Really, truly ice cold. You will need to add anywhere between 4 tablespoons and 8 tablespoons of water. So start with 4 tablespoons. Use your pastry cutter (or knives or forks) and cut the water into the fat and flour. Your goal is to be able to make a ball and have it stick together on its own. So if you're not there yet, add more water, one tablespoon at a time. It will vary depending on the weather, humidity, age of flour, etc. Don't be scared. Trust your gut and eyesight. If it still seems dry, add a touch more water.

Step 8: Once you get the right amount of water blended in, make two balls of dough. Flatten them down into a puffy pancake for easy storage. If you will be using them the same day, wrap in plastic wrap and pop in the fridge. Must rest in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes before using. This allows the glutens to relax and the fat to get nice and cold again. Key to a flaky pastry crust! If you are not planning to use it the same day, wrap in two layers of plastic wrap and store in freezer for up to two months.

Step 9: Dust your surface with flour. I actually take a damp sponge and moisten the counter top and then "glue" down a layer of plastic wrap. It makes for easy clean up. But not necessary. Either way, you need to get some flour down on your surface, hands and the rolling pin. If you don't own a rolling pin, you can use a CLEANED and UNOPENED bottle of wine. I think a full bottle will work better as the weight of the liquid works to your rolling advantage.

Step 10: Roll out your dough. Slowly. This isn't a race. No need to stress. It's flour and water. You can and will win this battle. You are smarter and prettier than this ball of dough, my friends! If it starts to stick to your rolling pin, and it will, just lightly dust with more flour. You'll likely need to re-dust a few times. Just do a light dusting- you want to add the smallest amount of extra flour as possible. So just enough to prevent sticking.

This is what it will look like all rolled out. The best way I have found to be certain that your dough is big enough is to hold your desired pie plate over the flat dough. The flat dough should be several inches larger on all sides. Oh and do you see the tear/hole towards the bottom?

Here's a close of of my tear/hole. It happens. All the time. Just pinch it together and keep going. As the saying goes, don't sweat the small stuff! No one is going to mock imperfect crust as they are scarfing down a slice of pie. I promise.

Step 11: Transfer pie crust to pie plate. I forgot to take a photo for you but I have found the easiest way is to place your rolling pin in the center of the dough. Fold half over the rolling pin so that it's sort of like a dough/rolling pin taco with dough on the top and bottom and rolling pin in the center. Lift up the rolling pin and place into pie plate.

Step 12: Trim the edges. Use a knife or kitchen scissors. Trim them a bit larger than the pie plate.

Step 13: Fold the extra dough under itself to give you a clean, rounded edge.

Step 14: Pinch the edge to make it pretty. You can do this several ways. You can use a fork and sort of mash it along the edge. You can make a wave-like design. You can even use baby cookie cutters on the extra dough and attach them around the edge with an egg white wash. Or you can do what I did below. I took my first two fingers on one hand and pressed my index finger between them using the other hand. I could only get one hand in the shot though as I only have two and needed one for the photo taking. The point is, do whatever feels good. It won't be perfect but it will be tasty. Accept that now and you will be a happy camper!

And that's it. If you are making a two crust pie- so one on the top and one on the bottom, follow all of the above directions but wait to do the crust pinching bit until the top crust is placed on top. After the top crust is on, pinch the top crust under the bottom crust edge and pinch away. Then cut three slits in the top to allow steam to escape.

Please tell me a few of y'all will try this soon! It really is so easy and the flavor difference is night and day. Plus, it's fun. And impressive to company. I promise I won't tell them how easy it really is!


Sherrie said...

Great tutorial. I have never made a pie, let alone homemade pie crust. I just may have to give it a shot.

Anonymous said...

I have to confess that I've never tried to make my own pie crust - it always seemed intimidating. However this sounds very very similar to making bread, which I can handle, so I think a peach or cherry pie is in order. Love your how-to guide! :)

Susan R said...

I'm trying your recipe. I love pie crust, but have not had a lot of good ones.
Everyone should be able to make a few things by scratch and pie crust is one of them, then bread, then cookies, then cake, etc...even if you go buy those things at the store, it's still good to know how to make them by scratch if you ever need to.

Jo said...

I'm keeping this on file. I've only made a few in my "cooking career" but they were horrible ~ dry and blah. I pretty much gave up making pies because of the crust.

Have you ever tried the Roul'Pat from DeMarle? It is amazing ~ I've rolled out sugar cookie dough and not only did it not stick, I didn't have to use any flour!


Beth Dunn said...

You are good!

Girl with the Curlz said...

This was great. Thanks for sharing. I just sent you some awards please stop by my blog :-)

DC GOP Girl said...

What a great lesson, even though I've never made a pie much less a pie crust. :P

Just left you an award over on my blog:



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