Let’s face it.. home made pie crusts are something that intimidate a vast majority of the population. Why? I mean it’s just flour, water, salt, some type of fat and sugar. How could 4-5 basic ingredients even have the most seasoned bakers/chefs become apprehensive? Not sure but it does happen.
It took me a good bit of time to finally become comfortable with pie crust making and even a longer time to feel confident enough to provide guidance on it. The fact that I can reproduce a fantastic, flaky pie crust every single time is honestly such a rush for me! It’s like “Hey, I finally can hold my own”.
Now don’t get me wrong, there are some decent pre-made crusts out there but where’s the sense of accomplishment when you present your family with a beautiful COMPLETELY FROM SCRATCH pie for dessert? Trust me, once you receive your first “OHhhh!” to that last Mmm…” you’ll never buy pre-made again!
So I’ve comprised a list of tricks that will help you out. Feel free to ask questions or concerns.
1. Make sure all ingredients are super cold. This includes the dry ingredients! I typically will keep a container of Crisco in the fridge for this purpose.
2. I rely completely on a pastry cutter. You can use your food processor but I’m old school, it’s how my Grandmother and Mom taught me so I’m a creature of habit I suppose.
3. Do NOT overwork the dough with your hands nor try to get every piece of butter/Crisco incorporated. You want the ‘chunks’ to be visible in the dough. This is what causes the flakiness and air pockets to be formed in the crust.
4. If it’s warm in your kitchen, refrigerate your dough for at least 30 minutes. Weather/heat/humidity will affect your dough so you need to adjust to your environment.
5. You don’t need brute force to roll out the dough; it will move with you. No fear if you tear it though. Just keep a little bowl of water by you and carefully dab a little water around the tear and “put back together”. Add a teensy bit of flour to it to soak up the water to ensure the rolling pin doesn’t stick.
6. Unfilled pie crust, line with parchment paper and either beans or a pie chain and bake accordingly to the directions.
7. Filled crusts, I prefer to brush with milk/cream and coarse sprinkling sugar instead of egg. I like to use egg though when I’m making savory pies (think pot pies, etc…)
8. If the edges are baking too fast, either use a pie crust shield or foil works just fine.
Most importantly, check your oven temperature is accurate. An oven-safe temperature gauge can be used to verify that when you set your oven to 400 degrees that it’s actually heating up to 400 degrees. I would suggest doing this a few different times moving the actual temperature gauge to test for ‘hot spots’ in your oven.
If you follow these tips, you’ll be serving pies like these at your table