Thursday, May 19, 2011

How to Make a Pie Crust: Mom's Recipe

      Because I grew up in a pie-making family, I thought that everyone just made their own pie crusts for everything.  Both Mom and Dad made pies.  In fact, Dad would take a recipe and make it over several times until he had it just the way he liked it.  I remember that he did this with pecan pie - I need to get that one from my Mom.  Anyway, it never occurred to me that you would purchase them (though I have done that to save the time on occasion).  However, I have realized that a lot of people are sort of intimidated by pie crusts.  And they shouldn't be - they really are not hard.  I promise.  And, they are super versatile.  They go well with sweet and savory dishes, and since I like to make fresh fruit pies during the summer especially (Strawberry/Rhubarb Pie is John's favorite - when I finally find Rhubarb here in the Rock I will share that recipe), I decided to share the recipe.
      Here's what you need.  This is a very, very basic recipe and makes enough for two crusts - so, it would cover the bottom and top of one pie OR it could be the bottom of two pies.


2 Cups of flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 Cup of shortening
1/2 cup of buttermilk (I always use regular milk and add 1 1/2 tsp vinegar to the milk)

See - I told you - very basic and with ingredients you probably already have on hand.  First things first, I go ahead and make my buttermilk by spoiling my milk with vinegar so that it has time to ripen while I do the other steps.

Picnik collage

Combine the flour and salt in a bowl.


Measure out shortening.  Here's a tip - I always line my measuring cup with a plastic baggie for several reasons.  First, you can throw it away and not have to clean up shortening.  Second, then you don't have to try to scrape out the shortening from the cup - you just dump the bag.  I know there are now shortening sticks sold at the store, but since I always buy the large can, this works for me.

Picnik collage

Cut the shortening into the flour/salt mixture until the mixture is crumbles.  I use a pastry cutter, but you could also use a fork.  The key is that you do not want to over mix it - you want it to be flaky in the end.


Then add your buttermilk.  I mix with a fork from here on out.


Once it is mixed well, I separate it into halves.  I will either be rolling it out into the top and bottom or, as was the case this night, I will be rolling one out to use and saving the other one in Press n Seal in the freezer until I need it.


Get out some wax paper and flour the surface, and place your rolled ball of crust into the middle of the paper.


Roll it out.  I hold my pie plate out over my crust to make sure that it is big enough.


Once I have it rolled out, here is the handy trick I use to get it into the pie plate without it being a disaster.  Fold the wax paper in half, and then peel the wax paper off so that the pie crust is still left folded in half.  Then fold it over again, so that the pie crust is folded into fourths.

Picnik collage

Then move the pie crust, without the wax paper, into the pie plate and unfold it so that it covers the pie plate.

Picnik collage

Use your hands to spread it out to cover everything.  Take into account that it will shrink, so you may want to go a little over board it you want a thick crust around the edges.


One really quick way to make a presentable edge is to use a fork to give it ridges all the way around.


Again, this is really basic - not like Martha Stewart or anything.  For Thanksgiving I went a little more all out and cut little leaves out of pie crust to go around the border, but I don't have time for that most of the time, so this is usually what I do.  Since the recipe I was using this for called for a Baked Pastry Shell, I went ahead and baked it following the Southern Living Cookbook recommendations, which means I poked it with a fork.


Covered it with a double layer of foil.


Then, I baked it for 8 minutes at 425°.  I removed the foil and baked it for another 5 to 6 minutes until it was golden.  Because I messed up the foil a bit, my finished product this time around was not very pretty - I am almost ashamed to show a picture of it, but here it is.


And, after all, it tasted good.  I ♥ pie.


Jennifer said...

I am baking my first pie today, and I'm using this recipe! Just a few days before you made this blog post, Meme told me that your mom's pie crust recipe is the best. I have had it bookmarked til I had a chance to give it a try! :)