This is the pie crust recipe – and the detailed pie crust techniques – that restored my pie crusts to the flaky, tender wonders that pie crusts should be. The recipe uses half butter (for flavor) and half shortening (for flakiness) and just enough water (for tenderness).
If you've always wondered how to make good pie crust, or (like me) haven't been happy with your pie crusts' flakiness and especially their tenderness, this recipe is explained in detail, along with many hints and tips and photo illustrations, in How to Make Flaky Tender Pie Crust.
"...the best pie crust I had ever made, hands down!" ~ Chris
"... the most wonderful pie I have ever made. And I thank you from the bottom of my heart." ~ Julie
My dad loves pie. My nephews love pie. Heavens, every man I know l-o-v-e-s pie.
But my Uncle Marv? He's the reason I bake pie. Here's the story.
I was only sixteen when I decided to cook Thanksgiving dinner – turkey and trimmings and all the rest – by myself. Did my mother hover in the kitchen to advise and consult? Probably. But if memory serves, that year I did indeed cook Thanksgiving dinner for seven all on my own.
Was it any good? No idea! No memory – except for the pies!
I made two that year, apple and pumpkin. And when my Uncle Marv rolled his eyes, grinned happily and returned for seconds, I was hooked. I wanted that kind of reaction again and again!
So I got good at pie crust. Turns out, I was a natural. With little instruction and less effort, I put forth one flaky tender pie crust after another. Some summers, my mom and I made a pie every single day during my visits home.
And then? For the life of me, I couldn't make a pie crust worth eating.
One crust after another, failure. One new recipe after another, failure. One new trick after another, failure. I tried the vinegar trick, the egg trick, the vodka trick. Nothing worked. I even resorted to frozen pie crusts. (They're passable when you roll the crust much thinner with a little sugar.)
My pastry prowess had gone missing! And I missed it!
Finally I consulted the "Pastry Whisperer" – that's our good friend Anne Cori of Kitchen Conservatory, the St. Louis cooking school and kitchen store. In just an hour, Anne shared a treasure trove of hands-on expert pie crust tips and tricks.
After I applied a new calm and assertive pastry energy, an achingly tender double-crust American Apple Pie emerged from the oven.
I delivered warm slices to the neighbors. My back-door neighbor doesn’t eat pie but polished off two slices with her fingers on the spot. My west-door neighbor called it "heavenly". Five doors down, a fellow pie-maker called it the "best pie I’ve ever eaten".
Good pastry takes practice but it’s worth it when people take their first bites of pie, then close their eyes to give thanks to the pastry gods.
My pastry still ranks only an A minus but that’s up from a C. The improvement alone is worth the practice. Just ask my neighbors.
FOR ST LOUISANS Every year on the day before Thanksgiving, Anne teaches a hands-on pie class from noon til four for $125. Arrive with three pie plates, take home three homemade pies, apple, pumpkin and cranberry walnut. To register, call 314-862-COOK or visit KitchenConservatory.com.
PIE CRUST TOOLS Many of the pie-making tools used in this recipe are featured on a special page on Kitchen Conservatory's website. Look for an extra-large silicone mat called a Rollpat, a bench knife, a flour duster, a gravy separator and a stainless steel pastry blender. There's also a video where Anne demonstrates how to make this recipe for Flaky Tender Pie Crust.
FLAKY TENDER PIE CRUST
Makes two crusts for 9-10” pie pans
- 2 cups all-purpose flour, fluffed to aerate before measuring or 250g
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 4 ounces (1 stick, 115g) cold unsalted butter, cut into 16 pieces
- 1/2 cup Crisco shortening
- 2 – 4 tablespoons ice water
- Extra flour, for rolling
- Egg wash (1 yolk whisked with 1 tablespoon water)
MISE EN PLACE It really helps to gather your ingredients and tools. You'll need a mixing bowl, a pastry cutter or a large fork, some ice water. Set the oven to 375F/190C.
MIX FLOUR & FAT In a large bowl, stir together just one cup of flour, sugar and salt. With a hand-held pastry blender, cut the butter into the flour until the butter is dime-sized (yes, that's larger than the usual specification of pea-size). Add the shortening, cut it into the flour mixture until it's dime-sized. Lightly stir in the remaining one cup flour.
ADD WATER Carefully now, sprinkle the flour-fat mixture with 2 tablespoons ice water. With a full palm, squeeze the flour together by pressing it against the side of bowl. Rub your hands together to drop damp flour into the bowl mixture. Drops at a time, add just enough water to hold the dough together; the less water the better, dry crumbs on the bottom of the bowl are good.
REFRIGERATE Refrigerate while making your desired pie filling.
ROLL BOTTOM CRUST Place a silicone mat on the counter, sprinkle with flour. Cut the dough in half, return half to the fridge. Gently shape dough into a flat round, sprinkle it with flour on all sides. Working in just one direction, roll dough into an oval the diameter of the pie plate plus its sides. Slip a bench knife beneath the dough to loosen, turn it 90 degrees. Roll again to form a circle. Brush off the excess flour. Place pie plate to your left. Palm up, place your right hand below the silicone mat and gently flip dough onto the pie plate. If needed, gently reposition the dough and patch the pastry. Brush off any excess flour. Refrigerate the bottom crust.
ROLL TOP CRUST Roll the top crust with the same technique.
FILL & TOP THE PIE Fill the bottom crust with your filling. Gently flip the top crust over the filling, brush off the excess flour. Trim the excess pastry, then turn under and press the two crusts together to form and seal the edge, crimping the edge decoratively. Slice into the top to vent. Brush the top (but not the edges) of the crust with egg wash.
BAKE Bake for 45 minutes or until top crust is golden brown and juices inside are bubbling.
For a pie with a single crust, 8 slices each, pastry only, per slice: 176 Cal; 13g Tot Fat; 5g Sat Fat; 14g Carb; 0g Fiber; 148mg Sodium; 15mg Cholesterol; 2g Protein. WEIGHT WATCHERS POINTS Old Points 4.5 & PointsPlus 5
"MOUSE BITE" TENDER!
Just look at that tender crust! The edges are so tender, they'll break off – or you'll break off a piece, just to sample! We call those "mouse bites"!
In My Family, Pie = Love
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