Pie Crust

Reaching into the freezer case for pre-made pie crusts is a hard habit to break, particularly with the daunting amount of pies you’ll be making for the holidays. After all, the refrigerated and frozen pie crusts are just as good, right? Homemade crusts include flour, liquid and fat. Unfortunately, most store-bought versions include a bevy of ingredients that just aren’t necessary in homemade crusts, like preservatives, food coloring and “flavor protectors.” But fortunately, with these fail-proof pie crust tips, you’ll drop that freezer case pie crust habit cold turkey.

  1. Cutting in cold butter (or shortening). My favorite way to do this is to freeze butter and then send it through the shredder of my food processor and immediately toss it into the flour. It’s so simple. I find it much easier than the traditional methods. I always fail at the knives method and don’t have a pastry blender. But, if you prefer, cut your cold (refrigerated instead of frozen) butter either with two knives or a pastry blender. Cut the butter into the flour until the pieces of butter are about pea-sized.
  2. Add ice water or chilled vodka instead of room temperature water. If you need to add water to the dough, use ice water. You can also try swapping in ice cold vodka for a crispier crust. Vodka makes the dough more pliable and evaporates during baking for a crispier crust.
  3. Chill the dough. Chill your dough ball for about 45 minutes before rolling it out. Chilling makes the dough sturdier.
  4. Transfer the pastry with your rolling pin. Instead of peeling it up and trying to flop it into the pie pan, wrap it around your rolling pin and slowly unroll it into your pie pan. You can also fold it loosely into quarters and place it in the center of the pan. Then unfold it gently into the pan.
  5. Trim the bottom crust. If you’re making a one-crust pie, trim the crust to about 1/2 inch beyond the pan. For a double crust, trim it even with the edge of the pan.
  6. Fold the top crust over the bottom to create a sealed edge. If you’re making a two-crust pie, don’t just crimp the edge. Trim the top crust to about 1/2 to 1 inch over the lip and fold the excess under the bottom crust prior to crimping.
  7. Crimp the edges. Use one of several methods to crimp the edges of your crust: pinch and roll, fork-crimp, or cut-outs.

Try these tips on a few pies this Thanksgiving, like All-Natural Pecan Pie or Cranberry Pear Pie, and you’ll never reach into the freezer case for a pie crust again. 

Don’t have a favorite pie crust recipe? Try this simple crust.

Pie Crust

Ingredients

1 cup flour 

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/3 cup plus one Tablespoon butter, cold or frozen

2-3 Tablespoons cold water or chilled vodka

Method

Mix flour and salt. If using frozen butter, shred and toss into flour. If using cold, cut with knives or pastry blender into the flour until butter is pea-sized. Sprinkle with water or vodka until flour is moistened and dough leaves the sides of the bowl.

Wrap and refrigerate dough for about 45 minutes. Roll dough into a circle about 11 inches in diameter. Transfer to 9-inch pie pan and trim. Fill with desired filling and continue as directed in pie recipe.

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Image: pgoyette