Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Recipe: The Perfect FROM SCRATCH Pie Crust

Don't get scared. You can do it! Pie crust from scratch is really not as hard as you think!  No one "taught" me how to bake, I just practiced and tried new recipes and ate lots and lots of baked goods until I learned how to get it just right! So if you don't get it right the first try, don't give up! Keep trying!

The Perfect FROM SCRATCH Pie Crust

2 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp salt
2/3 cup plus 2 tbs shortening
4-6 tbs water

OK, first things first. I am not a fan of shortening. It's really something I try to stay away from. But when it comes to a good pie crust, I find it does the best job! You can make an ok crust without it, but during the holidays and football Sundays, I like to go ahead and go for it and use the bad for ya stuff!  If you really want to push the limits of healthiness, use butter flavored shortening. (gasp, I know!)

In a medium sized bowl, mix the flour and salt.

Cut in shortening using a pastry blender until the particles are the size of small peas.

"Cut in" is a baking term. What you want to do is get the shortening worked into the flour. If you do not have a pastry blender, you can just use two butter knives and pull them through the dough in a crisscross pattern.

Sprinkle with cold water, one tablespoon at a time.

This is important.  Don't just dump all the water in the bowl.  Adding the water one tablespoon at a time allows you to keep track of the consistency of your dough, which is very important in baking a pie crust!

As you sprinkle in the water, toss the dough around with a fork to slowly mix it together.

Important note: You don't want to over-work the dough. That will make a tough pie crust.  Just take it nice and easy!  Avoid using your hands as the oil from your fingers will get into the dough and cause it to be tough and too much mixing also activates the gluten in the flour which will make it tough too. You didn't know you were getting a science lesson today did ya?

If the dough seems too dry, add a teaspoon or two of more water as you go. But take it easy! Too much water will make the dough soggy. What you want is for the dough to to be just moist enough to stick together, but not sticky to the point where when you touch it, it sticks to your fingers.

Gather pastry into a ball.  Divide in half; shape into two flattened rounds on lightly floured surface.  (note: I use a deep dish pie pan and prefer to have more than enough dough to work with so I don't have to worry about stretching the crust too thin, so I double this recipe if I'm making a two crust pie.)

Wrap in plastic wrap; refrigerate about 30-45 minutes or until dough is firm and cold, yet pliable.

Making sure the dough is chilled is a big deal. Don't skip this step! When the shortening is kept cold, it keeps the fat in clumps, instead of melting. (Which, by the way, is why I don't like using butter, it melts faster at room temperature) Then, when baking, those fatty clumps leave air pockets in the crust, which makes it flaky!

If you leave the dough in the fridge too long, don't worry, just let it sit out for a few minutes before you roll it out.

Flour your work surface so the dough won't stick.  With a floured rolling pin, roll one pastry round into two round inches larger than a 9 inch pie pan.

Again, I use a deep dish pie pan so I make mine a bit bigger. I love having this pie crust mat for that reason. It has measurements on it so I don't have to guess about how big I need to make it and it helps me keep it in a nice round shape!  But don't worry, you can still achieve a pretty round crust without one!

Gently lift the crust and place into the pie pan. (If you are using a pie mat you can just flip it right onto the pan, another reason why I love it)  Be careful not to stretch the crust to make it fit. Gently lift it and move it as needed until it's in the pie pan evenly.

Press firmly into the pan along bottom and sides.

Fill crust with pie filling. (Tomorrow I will be posting my apple pie filling recipe!) If you are not filling it, prick the bottom of the crust with a fork and bake at 350 degrees for a bout 15 minutes or until browned.  Then let cool before you use it for a pudding pie or what have you.

Roll out second pastry for the top (if you are using one). This time, make it about 10 inches wide around.  Place on top of filled pie pan in the same gentle way you did it the first time!

Now, you can do crusts lots of different ways, if you want the traditional fluted edge, and if you are only making a pie with a bottom crust, here is what you are gonna do:

Trim over hanging crust to about 1 inch over the edge of the rim of the pie pan.

 Fold and roll the top edge under the lower edge.  You are basically tucking it in like a fitted sheet.

Press around the rim to seal.  Flute as desired.

I like to do the old fashioned finger flute.  You just place your thumb in between your first two fingers and squeeze together.

Work your way around the edge until done!

You will want to make some steam holes of some kind too. I like to make a fancy little design with a fork.

A nice finishing touch is to brush on an egg or milk wash over the crust and then sprinkle with sugar.  I just used a bit of milk.

Another pretty way to top a pie is with a lattice crust.  Instead of placing the top crust on whole, use a pizza cutter to cut it into nice even strips.

Then crisscross them as you place them onto the pie.  Seal the edges and flute around the final edge.  Sorry, I don't have a picture for that one!

I tried something new that I saw in my Taste of Home magazine. I made this pretty flower crust! It was actually super easy to do!  Instead of using the strips for a lattice crust, I pointed the edges and placed them haphazardly on top of the pie to look like a flower.  Then I cut out a small circle to place in the middle.  How cute!  For better instructions, check out Taste of Home's directions.

 Now, you can bake the pie at the time and temperature according to the type of pie you are baking.

I have a handy dandy pie crust edge thingy (technical term) that keeps the crust from getting too dark during baking, but you can also use aluminum foil around the edges if you don't have the pie shield.  I highly recommend doing this and removing it for the last few minutes of baking.

 You can also freeze your balls of dough to be used at a later time! My favorite thing to do!

Good luck making your pie crust from scratch. And remember to have fun with it! Learning to master the art of pie crust from scratch is half the fun!

Sorry my pictures are not the greatest. Have you ever tried making a pie crust from scratch while taking pictures?  Well ok then.


This post linked to:
Beauty and Bedlam's Tasty Tuesday
11th Heaven's Homemaker Monday
A Southern Fairytale
Tempt My Tummy Tuesday

Check them out for more great recipes!

Pie crust shield links are Amazon affiliate links.


  1. yours looks so nice, this is one thing that nearly makes me throw my rolling pin. I just can not get it to come out right. I will keep trying though!

  2. I cheat most of the time and use Marie Callendar's frozen pie crust, but I don't mind making my own. I love, love love the flower shaped one. I have never seen that. I may have to try that myself with all of my apples. So gorgeous!

  3. I've never done pie crust from scratch! This looks gorgeous! Thanks!

  4. I love making homemade pie crusts, but lately mine have been looking pretty terrible...don't know why. I'm thinking I might have to try your recipe! Maybe that will do the trick. :)


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