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Simple Pie Crust
Making flaky pie crust is the hardest part to any pie recipe. It's not really as hard as some bakers try to make it out to be. Here are some simple recipes I use and some tips, tricks and solving common problems with your pie baking.
 

Tips and Tricks:
Let's start with a couple of tips and solutions to some common problems.
  • When you're mixing the pie ingredients, use a large serving fork. It makes it a lot easier to combine your ingredients and keep the dough from sticking to a spoon or between a smaller fork's tongs.
  • Coat your hands slightly with flour to handle the dough and keep it from sticking to you.
  • Coat your rolling pin to help keep it from sticking to the dough while rolling it out.
  • If your dough breaks or cracks while rolling it flat, then you may have it too dry. Place it back in your mixing bowl and add 1 or 2 tablespoons of water.
  • Turn your pie dish upside down over your flattened dough to measure the size and ensure you're making it large enough to fit. It should be about 2 inches larger than your pie pan.
  • When you're ready to place the dough in your pan, fold it for easier pick up. Carefully fold it in half, than fold it again . DO NOT PUSH IT FLAT. You don't want the crust to stay in this shape, so don't press it or push it flat. Gently pick it up and place the corner in the center of your pie pan, then gently unfold it.
  • When you're ready for baking, place the pie pan onto a cookie sheet that's larger than the pan. This will help catch any pie filling spill over and keep your oven clean.
     
    Problems:
  • If your crust is a pale color,
      - bake in a shiny not dull pie pan
      - or crust is under baked
  • Bottom crust is too soggy
      - baked in a dull not shiny pie pan
      - or baking temperature was too low
  • If your crust is too tender and falls apart
      - too little water was used
      - or too much shortening was used
  • If your crust is mealy and not flaky
      - shortening was cut to fine
      - or too little water was used.
  • If your crust is tough
      - too much flour was used
      - or the dough was mixed and handled too much
 

A One Crust Pie
If your pie will only have a bottom, such as with a Pecan Pie, use this recipe.
 
Total preparation time: 20 minutes
Don't miss the Tips & Tricks and Leftover Crust Ideas
 
Ingredients:
  • 1/3 cup plus 1 tblspn shortening
  • 1 cups all-purpose unbleached flour
  • ¼ tspn salt
  • ½ tblspn sugar
  • 3-4 tblspn cold water
  • ½ tblspn butter/margarine
Vickie's Pecan Pie
Directions:
  • Add flour, sugar and salt to a large mixing bowl.
  • Fold in softened shortening and butter.
  • Using a large fork mix until particles are the size of coarse crumbs.
  • Sprinkle with cold water, 1 tblspn at a time.
  • Mix dough until moistened and pastry almost cleans to the side of the bowl.
     
  • Gather pastry into a ball.
  • Shape into flattened round on a lightly floured cloth.
  • Lightly flour a rolling pin and roll pastry into a circle. 2 inches larger than the pie plate turned upside down. (9 x 1 1/4 inches).
  • Fold gently and place pastry sheet in pie plate. Unfold and ease into the plate, pressing firmly against bottom and side.
  • Cut off excess from the edge. Make sure to leave enough for pastry edging.
  • Set aside
     
  • For A Fork Edge:
    • Mold edge even with pie pan.
    • Dip fork into flour to avoid sticking.
    • Press fork firmly on edge around entire pie
    • Press diagonally for a herringbone affect.
       
  • For A Pinched Edge:
    • Place index finger on inside of pastry rim
    • Use your thumb and index finger on the outside
    • Press dough between your fingers so the inside rim pushes into the V-shape of your outside fingers. Press twice to sharpen edge.
       
  • For A Rope Edge
    • Place side of thumb on rim at an angle
    • use the knuckle of your index finger and press down into pastry toward your thumb.
 

A Two Crust Pie
If your pie will have a crust top, for an Apple Pie, or decorations, for a Pumpkin Pie, use this recipe.
 
Total preparation time: 20 minutes
Don't miss the Tips & Tricks and Leftover Crust Ideas
 
Vickie's Apple PieIngredients:
  • 2/3 cup plus 2 tblspn shortening
  • 2 cups all-purpose unbleached flour
  • 1 tspn salt
  • 1 tblspn sugar
  • 5-6 tblspn cold water
  • 1 tblspn butter/margarine
 
Directions:
  • Add flour, sugar and salt to a large mixing bowl.
  • Fold in softened shortening and butter.
  • Using a large fork mix until particles are the size of coarse crumbs.
  • Sprinkle with cold water, 1 tblspn at a time.
  • Mix dough until moistened and pastry almost cleans to the side of the bowl.
     
  • Gather pastry into a ball.
  • Shape into flattened round on a lightly floured cloth.
  • Divide into 2 halves and set one aside.
  • Shape one half into a ball and slightly flatten it on the cloth. Lightly flour a rolling pin and roll pastry into a circle. 2-Crust Decorative Pumpkin Pie
  • Fold pastry and place pastry sheet in pie plate. Unfold and ease into the plate, pressing firmly against bottom and side.
  • Cut off excess from the edge. Make sure to leave enough to pinch together with the top pastry sheet.
  • Set aside
     
  • Gather 2nd half of pastry into a ball.
  • Roll out into rounded pastry sheet.
  • For A Pastry Sheet Top:
    • fold pastry sheet into fourths and set aside.
    • when ready, lay top over pie filling and pinch edges together with the bottom edge of the crust. 
  • For A Classic Lattice Top:
    • Cut pastry sheet into 8 slices. Set aside and make pie filling.
         Once filling is in the pie pan, complete with the following 2 steps.
    • Lay 4 slices across the top of pie filling, about 1/2 inch apart.
    • Fold back alternate strips and lay 1 slice cross ways over filling. Continue this step until the remaining slices are laid across the pie.
    • Any remaining pastry can be molded into a long cord and placed around the edge of the pie. Pinch into bottom and top over laps to make a nice nipped crust edge.
       
  • For A Designer Top:
    • Using your favorite cookie cutters, cut the dough and gently place around the edge of the pie pan. Do not press into dough. Cut enough cookies to measure around the entire edge.
    • Once you have enough cuttings, remove them gently and set them aside. You'll put them back on after you pour in the pie filling.
       
  • For A Rope Edge:
    • Measure the rim of your pie.
    • Roll out pastry in a long string about 2 inches longer then the rim.
    • Flatten string into a rectangular shape
    • Place one end of the string on the pie edge
    • Gently twist the string as you guide it around the edge.
    • Cut off any excess when the 2 ends meet.
       
  • For A Braided Edge:
    Let me say this one is really tough. But if you can practice it and perfect it, a braided edge is really a nice touch.
    • Braid three 1/4 inch strips of pastry loosely.
    • Make the braid long enough to fit the edge of the pie.
    • Moisten rim and lay braid on top, pressing lightly to seal.
 

Leftover Crust Ideas
If you have left over crust dough, don't throw it out. Make decorative cookies to place next to your pie when serving. Here are a few ideas we've tried.
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