There are as many pie crust recipes out there as there are pies, but if you want to know which is our fall back tried and true recipe and method, you have found it! Whether making pies for all 50 coming over for dinner or just making meat pie for dinner, (add celery seeds from the spice rack for extra flavor that goes perfectly with leftover meat and veggies!) this recipe is our “Never Fail Pie Crust”.
Here are some of the details that Joyce recently shared in a hands on class with about 30 of us making pie crust for the first time:
Making the Pastry
- Keep room, surfaces, and ingredients cool.
- For flaky crust, chill shortening in the freezer for 15 min before use.
- Cut in shortening with a pastry blender to distribute the fat as evenly as possible. The mixture should resemble tiny peas or a coarse meal. Do not overwork the mixture or the shortening will become soft and sticky and make a tough, hard crust.
- Use the coldest possible water to keep fat particles solid.
- Sprinkle water/liquid over flour mixture a little at a time and toss with a fork to distribute well. Use enough liquid to make the pastry hold together. Flour mixture should feel moist, but not wet.
- Gather dough into balls, one ball for each top and shell.
- Do not knead the dough. Handle pie pastry as little as possible.
- Let the pastry rest in the refrigerator for 30 min to 24 hours. This tenderizes the pastry, makes it easier to roll, and keeps it from getting soggy.
Rolling Out Pastry
- Remove pastry from the refrigerator about 20 min before rolling.
- Roll on a well-floured pastry cloth or a lightly floured board.
- Flatten the pastry dough slightly into a small circle, and then use the rolling pin to roll out a circle that is 3 inches larger in diameter than the pie plate you plan to use. The dough should be approximately 1/8 inch thick.
- Always roll from the middle of the dough to the outside edges, using short quick strokes and lifting the rolling pin as it comes to the edge.
- Lift the pastry from time to time to make sure it isn’t sticking. If it does stick, loosen with a spatula and sprinkle a little flour on the surface underneath.
- If the pastry breaks or cracks, patch it with a strip of pastry cut from the edge. Moisten the patch, press into place, and continue rolling out.
- Work quickly so the dough doesn’t get soft and sticky.
Lining the Pie Plate
- Do not grease pans.
- Gently fold rolled dough in half and carefully lift and fit it into the pie plate.
- Ease the dough onto the bottom and up the sides of the pie plate. Don’t stretch or pull the dough. Pastry shrinks while baking. Use your fingers to pat pastry gently into place and to eliminate any air pockets.
For an unbaked single-crust pie
- Trim the pastry so the dough extends beyond the edges of the pie pan about 1/4 inch.
- Make a fluted edge by pinching the edges of the dough between your forefingers and pushing the dough away from you with one of your thumbs (there are other ways; I like this one). You can also seal the edge with the tines of a fork.
- Gently lap the curved edge of the flute around the edges of the plate and press. (This helps keep the crust from shriveling up in the pie plate as it cooks.)
For a baked single-crust pie
- Prepare the shell as above.
- Use the back of the tines of a fork to poke holes around the base and up the sides of the crust. (This helps keep the crust from shriveling up in the pie plate as it cooks.
- Bake the crust at about 400 – 425 degrees for 10-12 min. If you have a convection oven, set the temperature to about 375 degrees.
- See the tips about Baking the Pie, below.
For a double-crust pie
- Trim the pastry for the bottom crust (with a table knife) so the dough is even with the edges of the pie plate (doesn’t overlap the 1/4 inch as with a single-crust pie).
- Roll out the pastry for the top crust so that it is larger than the top of the tin and extends about an inch beyond the edges of the pan.
- Lap the top crust around the bottom crust (turn the top edges over the bottom crust).
- Flute the edges to seal.
- Know your oven! Each is different. Use the temperatures and baking times given in recipes as a guideline, but be governed by your own experience.
- Bake pies in the middle of the oven for the most even heat.
- Preheat the oven for a full 10 minutes before baking.
- If crust or edges are browning too fast, cover edges lightly with aluminum foil and continue baking until the rest of the pastry/pie is done.
- Cool pies on a rack. Air circulates better and the pie cools faster (making it less soggy). Even pies that are to be served warm should cool slightly.
- For fruit pies, place a large cookie sheet under the pie to catch any drips.
- Never-Fail Pastry
- 1¼ C shortening
- 1 egg, beaten
- 5 T water
- 1 T vinegar
- 3 C flour
- 1 tsp salt
- Cut shortening into flour and salt with pastry blender.
- Combine egg, water, and vinegar.
- Sprinkle liquid, a tablespoon or so at a time, over flour mixture and stir with a fork.
- Blend until all is moistened.
- Form into 4 equal balls, wrap tightly in plastic and refrigerate or freeze until ready to use.
- Makes enough dough for two double-crust pies. Dough keeps in refrigerator for up to 2 weeks; in the freezer for up to 2 months.