Whenever I make Christmas pies at my in law’s house my mother-in-law thinks I’m some sort of genius. “You make your own crust?!”
Yes (sometimes). And thank you. I love having a clever reputation!
But in reality…the cat’s out of the bag. Pie crust is super easy to make.
I’m no different than your 18th century mom.
Of course there are many different ways to make pie crust. Some use cold butter, some shortening, some must be chilled, and some even use oil. If you have your own tried-and-true method I’m not here to sway you another way.
But I will say this…
My mom has been making pie crust with this recipe for years.
It doesn’t require any cold ingredients.
It doesn’t require you to chill the dough for an hour before rolling it out. (I hate waiting for stuff.)
And it never fails. Works every time!
So pick your filling and let’s get started.
Never Fail Pie Crust
(makes 4 single crusts)
4 cups flour
1 Tbl sugar
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 3/4 cup vegetable shortening (non trans fat, such as Crisco or other). You can substitute butter or a mixture of both. Shortening makes the crust a bit more flaky and is easier to work with.
1 Tbl vinegar
1/2 cup water
Mix flour, sugar, and salt. Cut in the shortening with a fork or cutting tool (or you could give it a whirl in your food processor for a bit).
In a separate bowl mix vinegar, egg, and water. Add it to the flour mixture, stirring with a fork until moistened. Use your hands to mold into 4 equal balls. The dough may be frozen and thawed for future use.
When ready to bake a pie, flour your surface and roll the crust starting from the middle and moving out, till it’s about 2 inches larger than the size of your pie dish. Remember when working with pastries to handle it as little as possible so the gluten doesn’t become overworked and tough.
Gently roll your dough into a loose log or around your rolling pin (this is the easiest way I’ve found to transfer it into the pie pan). Lay it in the pan, unroll the crust, and gently fit it in place–don’t pull or tug on the crust. Use a knife to trim the uneven edges, leaving about a 1-inch overhang. Tuck the overhang under on the edge of your pan. Then use your fingers to pinch the edges for a decorative finish.
And you have a beautiful pie shell ready to bake!
Pie shells can be baked “blind” or filled.
Blind means baking the shell without anything inside of it (so you can later fill it with creams, puddings, fresh fruit, and yummy goodness). If I’m lazy, I simply poke holes in the bottom of my crust (to keep it from puffing up), toss it in a 375 degree oven for about 10 minutes, and then let it cool completely before filling. But sometimes one of the sides will sag a bit during baking.
So…the proper way to blind bake is to place a large piece of parchment or wax paper in the crust so it covers the bottom and sides of the pan. Then fill it with baking weights, dried beans, or rice. This holds the crust in place as it bakes.
When baking a filled pie such as pumpkin, apple, pecan, or raspberry, I recommend covering the edges of your crust with long strips of aluminum foil to keep them from burning as the pie bakes. Or you can buy a handy metal crust-cover to protect the edges. Remove it during the last 5 minutes of baking so the edges will brown.
And there you go. Simple pie crust.
Now it’s your turn to impress the mother-in-law.
I’ll get you started with my favorite Lemon Cream and Pumpkin Pie recipes.
Of course chocolate pudding with cool whip and candies on top is a simple crowd- pleaser.
Check out the Sweets and Treats archive page HERE.