Homemade Pie Crust 101: Or what to do when the grocery store is closed because it’s Sunday

 There are three things you must know before you attempt to make homemade pie crust:

  1. Do not believe the old adage “Pies are like promises, easily made and easily broken.”  A pie crust is not easy to make, and if you don’t do it right they are not easy to break! 
  2. Cold, Cold, Cold!  When making the dough think cold.  You want everything freezing cold; flour, shortening, water, vinegar, your hands… everything!  A very cold dough going into a very hot oven is what makes the crust flaky.
  3. You will make a mess, so if you are a neat freak.  Get over it!

Here is my favorite recipe from the book Mormon Cooking Authentic Recipes, I’ve taken the liberty of translating the instructions from Molly Mormonese into Don’t-Know-What-I’m-Doing English for you.

No-Fail Pie Crust
2 ½ cups sifted flour
1 cup shortening
¼ cup cold water
1 T. vinegar
1 t. salt
1 large egg, beaten

  • Before you do anything else turn on the oven to 400 degrees.  You want to be able to put the pie crust in the oven at the full temperature as soon as you are done making it.  If the oven isn’t fully heated, put the pie crust in the fridge until it is.
  • Next get some ice cubes and put them in a cup of water.  This will make your water really cold.
  • Sift the flour and salt together.
  • Cut in shortening until mixture resembles small peas.  In English this means, put your shortening in to the flour mixture and using either two knives or a pastry cutter, start chopping up the shortening until the shortening is in small pieces, about the size of small peas, or for you scientists about 7-9 mm in diameter.
  • In another small bowl, mix the cold water, vinegar and egg. 
  • Sprinkle the water mixture into the flour mixing as you go. 
  • When the flour is moistened, stick your hand in there and clump it together so that it forms a ball.  Divide the ball into 3 smaller balls. 
  • Using a little flour and wax paper, roll out the dough with a rolling pin.  Try to roll it out evenly and into a circle, this takes years of practice, at least that’s what I keep telling myself. 
  •  Roll the dough onto your rolling pin and then unroll it over a pie tin. 
  • Cut the edges with a knife, flute the edges (make the edges pretty with your fingers) then prick the crust with a fork.
  • Bake in your HOT preheated oven for 10 to 15 minutes.  If you smell something burning, you’ve cooked it too long. 
  • Let cool then fill with pudding.  Top with cool whip so nobody can see the fluted edges.

Below I’ve add another favorite recipe of mine that is great for when you need to make all the pies for the Four-generation Thanksgiving Dinner, or you just want to get the flour sifting and shortening measuring done all at once, reducing the time and mess each time you make a pie crust.  Do not attempt until you own a mini-van!

Homemade Pie Crust 401
(For when your family and friends consider you to be THE source for homemade pies)

I have a cookbook that’s as old as I am; the cover is missing, the edges are ripped, years of cooking have stained the pages and sadly it’s out of print.  I will sell you one of my own children before I will sell you this book.  It’s that great.  It’s called Make-A-Mix Cookery.  The whole concept of the book is to make a mix ahead of time, so that actual meal preparation is easier.  To that I say, AMEN!  Here’s the pie crust recipe from that book.

Flaky Pie Crust Mix
12 ½ cups all-purpose flour
2 T. salt
5 cups shortening

Combine flour and salt in a large bowl, a very large bowl.  You will want room to work.  Mix well.  With a pastry blender, cut in shortening until it is evenly distributed.  Mixture will resemble cornmeal in texture.  Put about 2 ½ cups mixture each into 6 freezer bags.  Seal and label bags.  Freeze.  Use within 12 months.  Makes enough for 12 single-crust pies.

Flaky Pie Crust
2 ½ cups Flaky Pie Crust Mix (recipe above)
¼ cup ice water
1 egg, beaten
1 T. white vinegar

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  Crumble Flaky Pie Crust Mix if frozen.  Put mix in medium bowl.  In a small bowl, combine ice water, egg and vinegar.  Sprinkle a spoonful of water mixture at a time over the Flaky Pie Crust Mix and toss with a fork until the dough barely clings together in the bowl.  Roll out dough to desired thickness between 2 sheets of lightly floured wax paper.  Place dough in a 9-inch pie plate without stretching.  Flute edges.  If filling recipe calls for a baked pie crust, bake 10 to 15 minutes, until very lightly browned.  Cool.  Fill and bake according to directions for filling.  For double-crust pie, place top crust over filling, press and flute edges, and cut slits in top crust.  Makes enough crust for one 9-inch double crust pie or two 9-inch single-crust pies.

Here’s a recipe that is a favorite in our family just for kicks.

Bisquick’s Ham N’Swiss Pie
(Or what I like to call How-to-Trick-Your-Family-Into-Thinking-You’ve-Worked-Hard-in-the-Kitchen)
1 c. frozen chopped broccoli
2 c. smoke ham, cut up fully cooked (I just buy a thick slice at the deli)
1 c. (4 oz.) Swiss cheese, shredded (again deli)
2 c. milk
4 eggs
1 c. Bisquick
¼ tsp. Salt
1/8 tsp. Pepper (yeah, like I really measure my pepper)

Heat oven to 400 degrees.  Grease pie plate.  Or in the real world spray with Pam.  Sprinkle ham, cheese, and broccoli in plate.  Beat remaining ingredients until smooth; pour into plate.  Bake 35-40 minutes; cool 5 minutes.  I’m not kidding you, this pie forms it’s own crust while baking.  It comes out looking like a real pie with a golden crust on top.