Easy Pie Crust
Without a doubt, the holidays are the best time of year to enjoy a pie (or two, or three, or…well, according to my husband, there is never a bad time to enjoy a pie!). Even if you are one of those families who order out to get a delicious dessert, a homemade pie will always be welcome at the end of the meal. I used to be afraid of making pies simply because of the crust! Fillings require dumping, cutting, mixing and maybe a little cooking. But pie crusts? Now those require SKILL…or so I thought! It wasn’t until I hunkered down in the kitchen one day with my pie face on that I realized making a homemade easy pie crust is as easy as making sugar cookie cut-outs, and it’s done in less time! Some dumping, mixing, rolling and molding -that’s it. Unlike filling, pie crusts can also be made weeks, even months, in advance. I will show you a little trick to freezing them.
This recipe is adapted from my great-grandmother Ferne. Enough said 🙂 It will make 1 pie crust bottom for a 10 inch pie dish plus extra for a top. I have taken many photos to ease your woes about the craft of crust making. It really can be quite easy! You might even find that you enjoy it… And you just might even find that once it embraces your favorite fruit, cream, or spiced squash, you will never buy pie crust again.
Come on in to my kitchen!
The ingredients for a basic pie crust are always the same – flour, fat, water and salt. This recipe uses quality shortening for the fat (since I don’t have access to real lard) and a little sugar and vinegar as well. The sugar adds a hint of sweet and the vinegar helps keep the gluten strands in the flour from getting too long – resulting in a tender, flaky crust. Pretty scientific, but I’m convinced!
To begin, cool down some water with ice in a pourable container. We will use this ice water later on and we need it to be really cold. This is key to making a great crust.
In a large mixing bowl, whisk together 2 cups all-purpose flour, 1 T. granulated sugar and 1/2 tsp. salt. Then add 3/4 cup shortening. There is a great debate over what kind of fat to use in a pie crust. I’ve tried lot of different kinds, but in the end, we prefer Spectrum non-hydrogenated shortening. It has made us some amazing pie crusts and doesn’t have the trans fat like shortenings such as Crisco.
Using a pastry blender or fork, mash the fat into the flour mixture over and over until you have crumbles the size of peas. It should look like this here.
Pour this water/vinegar mixture into the bowl of crumbles (a little at a time) while also stirring it up with a fork. The water will help the crumbles stick together. Do this just until the dough holds together without breaking apart. With pie crust, the less you mess with it, the better.
With your hands, mold the dough into a ball and place it on a lightly floured surface. Immediately begin rolling out your soft dough with a rolling pin. It will remind you of sugar cookie dough, but even easier to roll. Roll the dough in strokes from the center to the edges until you have a rough 12-13 inch circle.
Now comes my favorite part! First, fold the dough right to left “hotdog style.” Then fold it again from the bottom to the top and place the dough triangle on your pie plate like shown. In my experience, this is the best way to transport the crust from the floured surface to the plate. Simply unfold the triangle to its original circle and gently pat it down into the plate.
Using a non-serrated knife, roughly trim off the excess dough that is really hanging off the edge of the plate. It doesn’t have to be perfect because we are going to fold down the edges.
Here I have folded down my edges around half of the pie plate. Looking smooth, baby!
Now, to make this extra easy, you can leave the dough as-is and call it a day. However, if you want that classic fluted edge, use a finger from your left hand to push out while you use two fingers from your right hand to push in around your left hand finger. I couldn’t do this and also hold the camera so imagine that my hands are doing this at the same time.
Roll out the excess dough on your lightly floured surface and cut out a circle the size that you want on top of your filling. There should be plenty of dough to make up to an 8 inch circle. I decided to make a 5 inch circle and 18 mini star shapes for decoration. Fun!
If you are going to make this ahead, pie crust freezes really well. Put some wax or parchment paper between each layer of pastry and place the entire pie plate in a large freezer bag.
If your freezer bag is too small for, say, a 10 inch pie plate, here is a little trick! Cut down one side each of two gallon freezer bags. Place the two bags side by side; one with the zip top facing north and one with the zip top facing south. Insert the plate into the bag with the zip top facing south so the cut side is to the east. Now cover that entire bag with the second bag (zip top facing north) and seal.
There will be no open sides and your plate will fit! Label and freeze.
There is your easy pie crust! I’ve given you a lot of detailed how-to, but the entire process will take you less than 20 minutes… and please, don’t try to be perfect! We certainly don’t want anyone thinking it was made in a factory 🙂
- 5 Tablespoons ice cold water
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 Tablespoon sugar
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¾ cup shortening
- 1½ teaspoons white vinegar
- Make ice water and set aside.
- In a large mixing bowl, whisk together 2 cups all-purpose flour, 1 T. granulated sugar and ½ tsp. salt. Then add ¾ cup shortening.
- Using a pastry blender or fork, mash the shortening into the flour mixture over and over until you have crumbles the size of peas.
- Pour 5 Tablespoons (or ¼ cup + 1 T) of the ice cold water into a measuring cup and add 1½ teaspoons white vinegar.
- Pour this water/vinegar mixture into the bowl of crumbles (a little at a time) while also stirring it up with a fork. Do this just until the dough holds together without breaking apart.
- With your hands, mold the dough into a ball and place it on a lightly floured surface. Immediately begin rolling out the dough with a rolling pin using strokes from the center to the edges until you have a rough 12-13 inch circle.
- Fold the dough right to left "hotdog style." Then fold it again from the bottom to the top and place the dough triangle on your pie plate like shown. Unfold the triangle to its original circle and gently pat it down into the plate.
- Using a non-serrated knife, roughly trim off the excess dough that is hanging off the edge of the plate.
- To make a classic fluted edge, use a finger from your left hand to push out on the edge while you use two fingers from your right hand to push in around your left hand finger.
- Roll out the excess dough on your lightly floured surface and cut out a circle and/or decorations the size that you want on top of your filling.
- Fill immediately or freeze for long term storage.
Looking for the perfect filling for your homemade pie crusts? Learn how to cook Apple Pie!