home made pie crust
March 1, 2004 4:32 AM   Subscribe

Does anyone have a recipe/strategy for making homemade pie crusts? Tomorrow is my wife's birthday, and she loves apple pie [more inside].

I usually buy ready-made, but this year I wanted to show a little extra effort/attention. I'm a generally a good foodstuff cook, but have totally avoided any pastry skills.

Any suggestions for recipes for fillings would be appreciated, as well. Thanks.
posted by jpburns to Food & Drink (20 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I have THE apple pie recipe for you, crust included. My Mom's pie was legendary, and I had her write down the recipe and send it to my wife, not knowing it would be one of the last things to pass between us. My wife's pie tastes EXACTLY like mom's so I know the recipe works. She gives the order for assembly, so even though you seem to have chosen a recipe for the filling, I left the whole recipe in there. The foil chimney and edge wrap are crucial.

Pie Crust (Homemade) for 9 inch piepan


4 cups flour
1 tbsp sugar
2 tsp salt
1 3/4 cup shortening
1 Tbsp white vinegar
1 egg
 Put first three ingredients in a bowl and mix with fork. Add shortening, crumble with fork until it forms small lumps. Beat egg, vinegar, 1/2 cup water. Mix all. Knead. Divide dough into five lumps. Refrigerate 1/2 hour. Freeze extra dough.

With aluminum foil, make a 2-inch high chimney by wrapping foil around a pencil and removing the pencil. Also prepare a strip of foil about 2 inches wide to wrap edge of pie.

Apple Pie Filling

6 cups thinly-sliced, peeled apples (sour, green apples)
3/4 cup sugar
2 tbsp cornstarch
2 tsp (or more) cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
A little grated nutmeg
1 tbsp lemon juice

Heat oven to 425ºF (220º C). In large bowl, combine all the filling ingredients, mix lightly.
Roll out 2 lumps of dough on a well-floured surface. Put bottom crust in pan, add filling. I usually add some butter on top of apple filling before putting top crust on. Seal crust edge with a fork. Make a hole in top center, put chimney into it. Cut slits in top, wrap foil strip around edge. Remove toward end of cooking time. When half-baked, push down on top crust so that there is no air between top crust and filling.

Bake at 425ºF (220º C) or less for about 45 minutes. Cool until lukewarm before slicing.
posted by planetkyoto at 5:01 AM on March 1, 2004

Lard makes the best pie crust, and ironically, its a lot healthier for you than shortening...
Other than that, PK's recipe looks great...
posted by Fupped Duck at 5:09 AM on March 1, 2004

Thank you, planetkyoto; it wasn't my question - but I plan to benefit from the answer. I haven't had apple pie since I moved to Greece (milopita is great, but an entirely different thing.)
posted by taz at 5:55 AM on March 1, 2004

I'll try and add my recipe if I have the time, in the mean time, if you use PKs recipe use caster sugar rather than granulated. I'd disagree with Fupped on lard, its good for savoury pies but not so good for sweet I'd say. I use margarine (is that the same as shortening?). I don't follow PK's five lumps of pastry thing, I'd set aside about a third of the pastry for the lid. For the filling I peel and thinly slice 3lb of sour (don't be tempted to use sweet) apples into a little lemon juice and brown sugar. When pastry dish lining is ready put alternate layers of apple, brown sugar, a scattering of raisins/sultanas, a little orange zest (ie grated skin), some cinnamon. finish off by spooning a couple of tbsp of the lemon juice/sugar mixture over the lot (ie before you put the pastry lid on)
posted by biffa at 5:56 AM on March 1, 2004

I just remembered my recipe is in this previous apple pie question.
posted by biffa at 5:59 AM on March 1, 2004

For me, shortening makes the best pie crusts. Get it really cold before cutting it into the dry ingredients for the flakiest crust.

PK's recipe looks great, but I don't really understand the advantage of the foil chimney over a plain hole in the crust. Perhaps it's there to keep the filling from spilling out of the hole?
posted by caddis at 6:50 AM on March 1, 2004

An important point in making a good pie dough is temperature. Keep you kitchen much cooler than normal.
posted by daver at 7:18 AM on March 1, 2004

Here is The Perfect Pastry recipe.

It's quick and extremely light and flakey. It has never failed to produce stunning crusts that get raves from those who've had it.

The only change I'd recommend to the recipe is to add less liquid: the less you use, the flakier (but also far more fragile) the crust. When I want the ultimate crust, I add just barely enough water to let the dough clump. It barely hangs together in the pan!
posted by five fresh fish at 8:35 AM on March 1, 2004

Before making the crust, freeze your butter. Then instead of cutting it into the flour, use a grater. I don't know if shortening/lard freezes hard enough to use this trick.
posted by plinth at 8:43 AM on March 1, 2004

An important point in making a good pie dough is temperature

Yup, fff's pastry suggestion suggests half an hour in the fridge before use. I'd agree with that. Also, when you're making the pastry you should be using finger tips and looking to minimise the time you have your hands in their to stop the fat portion from melting. This will also be better served by starting with the fat cold and cubed.
posted by biffa at 8:43 AM on March 1, 2004

I like the recipe aloready posted, so I will not bother with posting my own... however, I would suggest one thing...

I like a crunchy "betty" like crust on my apple pie. To do it, simply mix 1 cup graham crackers ( crushed) and brown sugar in equal parts, and then throw in a half stick or so of butter. get two knives and work them together in the mix until you have a crumbly textured brown stuff... sprinkle on top of pie instead of adding a traditional top crust.
posted by bradth27 at 8:47 AM on March 1, 2004

I like Joyce Maynard's apple pie recipe, detailed here step by step.
posted by GaelFC at 9:10 AM on March 1, 2004

as daver said, temperature is critical. you need the fat to remain in small clumps, so that the dry mixture resembles breadcrumbs. if you get the fat too warm it becomes spread out and the pastry doesn't crumble (i don't know why). so cool the fat beforehand and mix with a knife (or other implement(s) of choice) rather than your fingers.

you can also mix a small amount of lemon juice to the mix - i can't remember the details, but it's something to do with gluten, iirc. again it helps keep things crumbly, but it's very easy to add enough to get a lemony taste (not that it would be so bad with a sweet pie like apple).

i have an excellent cookbook that explains this (it's veggie too), but can't remember the title. if you email me after next tuesday i'll be back at home and can tell you what it is. i am not the worlds greatest cook, but my pastry has always been wonderful (better than my mum's and as good as my grandma's!) when i follow the advice above (and the recipe in said book).
posted by andrew cooke at 9:22 AM on March 1, 2004

God DAMN this thread makes me want apple pie!

I second the lard substitution, and the importance of a cold room for preparing the crust. Post a photo of your final product, eh?
posted by squirrel at 10:32 AM on March 1, 2004

Award winning pie that is awesome.
posted by brent at 10:36 AM on March 1, 2004

I repeat: the perfect pastry link I posted makes perfect pastry. There is none so tender, fluffy, and quick.
posted by five fresh fish at 4:26 PM on March 1, 2004

I always heard lard for texture and butter for flavor, so 1/2 and 1/2. But I think my mom's pastry was always made with lard. Regardless of recipe, using a food processor to get the fat into the flour is one way to avoid heating up the dough. That's why recipes always call for cutting in the lard/butter/shortening, to avoid warmth from hands.
posted by noether at 7:48 PM on March 1, 2004

You can also use a pastry blender and do it by hand w/o heating up the dough. They're cheap. I'm not a baker, but have used one several times now with great results.

Great recipe suggestions here!
posted by onlyconnect at 11:32 PM on March 1, 2004

There is none so tender, fluffy, and quick.

My ears are burning!
posted by squirrel at 11:20 AM on March 3, 2004

OK, oddly enough there is an extremely credible entirely vegan pie crust (using quite ordinary ingredients like flour, oil, and ground nuts) in Lorna Sass's Recipes from an Ecological Kitchen. Works stupendously well, except you can't really roll it (not, at any rate, at my level of aptitude), so reserve it for fruit pies or crumblers that don't need a top.

Of course, you can just not use butter in the other recipes. The commercial egg replacers work just fine if you use two or three times as much as the box says.

I was just pining this last week for my older period of baking all the time. Now that I'm already a fat bastard, I suppose I shouldn't be afeared of the carbs.
posted by joeclark at 6:19 PM on March 14, 2004

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