Pie crusts have become an item in the kitchen that so many people are afraid to make for themselves. There has been a lot of talk of how hard a pie crust is to make. All this talk of difficulty has most people eating those nasty things that come pre-made and labeled as pie crust. That is such a shame because pie crust are not that hard if you have a few tips with which to start.
A pie crust has just a few ingredients and the instructions are simple. I do believe that most people have trouble because they are trying to measure exactly. The thing is when you are doing pastry, it has as much to do with the “feel” of the dough as the measurements. The flour, salt, and Crisco (or butter) are exact measurements, but the water added is where the “feel” comes in to play. It may seem funny, but the weather plays a huge role in pastry making. Things like humidity in the air will affect how much water you add to the flour mixture. So, if the recipe says “add 2 tablespoons” know that on any given day that might mean a little more or a little less. You add water until the dough comes together and forms a ball- that simple. Add a little at first and then add more as you need to, you can always add more water, but you can’t take it back.
2 cups flour
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup unsalted butter
7 tablespoons water- added 2 tblsp at a time- more or less
Mix flour and salt together in mixing bowl
Now add the butter and “cut it in”. This means you use a pastry blender, fork, or two knives and keep mashing and cutting the butter until it is little pieces, about the size of a pea, and the mixture is crumbly.
see the larger chunks, this is the butter in little pieces. Once you get to this, stop cutting in
Now, you add the water. Start with 2 tablespoons and stir with a fork. Then add 2 more tablespoons of water. You will see the dough start to form large chunks. Add more water until the dough sticks together and makes a “ball”. This ball will not be perfectly round.
See how all the dough is stuck together? this is the ball
Once you are at this stage, reach into the bowl, take the ball and shape it just a bit and then divide it in half. Then take each half and round out the balls. Since the dough will be a little tacky to the touch, get a little flour on your hands.
this is half the dough shaped in a ball
Now, flatten out the ball and start to make the crust.
pat and flatten the ball into a flat circle
On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough until it is about 1/4 inch thick. Once the dough is larger by about and inch than the pie plate you are cooking in, the crust is big enough.
Get a little flour on the rolling pin so the dough won’t stick
This pie is for a dinner potpie and I like to use a cast iron skillet for those.
Getting the dough off the rolling surface can be a little tricky- if you slide one hand under and then flip it over your top hand, then slide the bottom hand under farther and keeping working it that way, the dough comes up easy without ripping.
slide the hand under and flip it over the top hand
repeat the step
We have lift off! Once you do that step about 4 times the crust is off the work surface.
Now place the crust into you pie plate or deep dish. The bottom is done. What kind of pie you are doing determines if you will need a top crust. If you do, once the pie shell is filled, repeat the rolling out steps with the second ball of dough and lay it on top. Trim what hangs over and press the sides together.
There you have it! Pie crust made at home are SO much better. Don’t be discouraged if you have to make a few to really get it down, nothing worth doing is easy the first time.