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Making pie crust from scratch is almost a lost art. Any basic cookbook should supply recipes for the dough - it is not the recipe so much as the technique that yields perfect results. Here are the steps that your grandmother followed.
*When following a piecrust recipe, measure carefully and accurately. Pie crust dough is like chemistry, relying on perfectly coordinated proportions of flour and shortening to make a crust that is flaky and resilient.
*For best results use lard instead of a vegetable-based shortening like Crisco. Have the shortening well-chilled before use.
*To mix the shortening and flour, use a pastry blender or two knives. The idea is to chop the shortening into small bits that become coated with flour ¡V not to cream the two together. You have blended sufficiently when the mixture resembles coarse bread crumbs.
*Use icy cold water, not tap water. Add the water one tablespoon at a time, then mix it into the flour mixture with a fork. Recipes usually call for something like ¡§6 to 7 Tablespoons of water.¡¨ You¡¦ve added enough when the dough sticks together in a ball ¡V too much water will make a sticky crust that is difficult to roll. Too little, and the crust will remain crumbly and hard to handle.
*When the dough is completely mixed, roll it into a ball with your hands. If making a two-crust pie, cut the ball in half.
*To begin rolling, flour the surface you¡¦ll be working on; roll the rolling pin through the flour.
*Place the dough ball on the surface and flatten it with the heel of your hand. Then begin working with the rolling pin. Always roll from the center outward, avoiding rolling over the piecrust¡¦s edge until the very end (continuously rolling the edge will make it thin and difficult to lift up).
*While the crust is still thick and easy to handle, occasionally lift it to make sure it is not sticking to the work surface. Sprinkle more flour underneath, if necessary.
*Hold an inverted piepan over the crust to see when it has been rolled large enough.
*With a sharp knife, trim off the rough, cracked edge of the piecrust. A smooth, rounded edge will make the crust easier to lift.
*Lift one edge of the crust over the other, lightly folding it in half. Then lift the folded crust and drape it over one half of the piepan, unfolding it to cover the other half. Pat the crust gently over the sides of the pan.
*Trim off the excess crust with kitchen scissors, making it even with the pan¡¦s edge.
*For a one-crust pie, fold the edge of the crust back under itself and crimp it with your thumb. Add the filling and bake.
*For a two-crust pie, fill and repeat the steps above to make the top crust. Drape it over the pie filling, unfold it, and trim. Then fold the edge of the top crust under the bottom crust and crimp it closed with your thumb.