pie crust 101Making pie crusts can be tricky, but don’t get discouraged. With a few tips and a little practice, you can make scrumptious and flaky desserts, too. So, let’s take a look at Pie Crust 101.

Flaky Pie Crust
This is for a 10″ pie.

1½ cups all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon salt
¼ cup shortening
¼ cup butter, cut into chunks
4 to 5 tablespoons ice water

Combine flour and salt; cut in shortening and butter with a pastry blender until mixture is crumbly.  Sprinkle ice water, 1 tablespoon at a time, evenly over surface; stir with a fork until dry ingredients are moistened.  Shape into a ball; cover and chill until ready to use.

Roll pastry to 1/8-inch thickness on a lightly floured surface.  Place in pie plate; trim off excess pastry along the edges.  Fold edges under and crimp.  Chill.

Pie Crust Tips
Once you master the technique of making a pie crust, you may never go back to store-bought again.  It’s really not very difficult and requires just a little bit of practice.  Here are a few tips:

  • Chill the pastry – it helps to keep it flaky
  • Use the least amount of water – just enough to hold the pastry together
  • To prevent the crust from over-browning, cut a square of aluminum foil larger than the pie plate.  Fold it in quarters.  Where the points meet, move out approximately 4-5 inches and tear from one side to the other, removing the center point of the foil.  Open it up and you should have a square sheet of foil with a circle cut out in the middle.  Put this over the pie and it’ll allow the top to brown but not burn the crust.
  • Use glass, ceramic or dark metal pie plates for a crispy crust.
  • Quickly roll the pastry from the center out in all directions (otherwise it will shrink during baking)
  • Use a tablespoon of cider vinegar in the pie crust to relax the dough and reduce shrinking
  • Two ways to transfer the pie crust to the pie plate:
  1. Quickly fold it in half and then in half again – put the point in the center of the pie plate and unfold it
  2. Roll the dough onto the rolling pin and then unroll onto the pie plate

Filling Tips
Here are a few more tips I found on the internet about great pie fillings.  I found these on the Tips for Pies and Tarts page at Diane’s Desserts website:

  • Fruit pie fillings: use potato starch as a thickener instead of flour or cornstarch for an uncloudy filling
  • Apple pie:  Cut the apples thinly to prevent air from forming between the crust and the apples
  • For the purest flavor in fruit pies, macerate (marinate) the fruit, capture the juices, and boil and reduce the liquid. The will decrease the amount of thickener and create more intense, focused flavor and a juicy filling.
  • If the filling is too runny, bake for an additional 5-10 minutes.