Put away your battle gear, wipe the war paint off of your gorgeous faces, put down the booze – because you won’t need any of it any more when you head into the kitchen for your next pie-venture. I’ve failed at so many, its embarassing. I used to resort to the store bought crusts under the veil of convenience, but I knew I was buying them only because I was an absolute horror at making them myself. Compliments would roll in about how fantastic the crusts were, “just like mom used to make”, “mmm, so flaky”, “Oh yeah Mmm, can I have this recipe? My wife needs to learn this one.” and I would conveniently forget it every time they asked… Yup, I’m a full on FRAUD. Or was. But making a pie crust was stressful, inevitably ending up with me just throwing my hands up in the air, falling down on the ground with the most exasperating of sighs and throw a full on adult tantrum. Huck would get concerned and grow an extra wrinkle on his forehead, Ben would shake his head and walk away never to be seen again. It was ugly. But no more. And learning how to make pie crust was made easy in one simple step – USE A FOOD PROCESSOR.
Did a light bulb just got off for your, too? Oh good. My dear friend Kirsten introduced me to her recipe for her No Excuses Pie crust almost three years ago and it has been my pillar for all other pie crusts after it.
One thing I learned along the way, was to substitute a little vegetable shortening, like Crisco, for some of the butter in the crust. Crisco has a higher melting point than butter, and for me, it seems to help minimize the shrinking and drooping of the pie crust along the edges of the pan.
The other key to your fats is to chill them. And not just chill – but freeze them. Cut your butters and shortening into small chunks before hand, place them in a small dish and stick them in the freezer until you’re ready to use them. I like keeping a few pieces tucked away in the freezer so I can just pluck them out when necessary.
In your food processor, pulse together your flour, sugar and salt until light and fluffy.
Add in your shortening. Pulse until it starts to resemble course meal.
Add in your butter and pulse in to combinem until it looks like course meal again.
For the water – just like the butter – make sure it is ice cold.
Turn on your food processor and pour in your water in a steady stream. The dough will start to form and right as it starts to gather and almost form a ball you’re done!
Remove it from the bowl, press it together into a tight ball. If you’re making a double batch, separate your dough into two even balls. Wrap your dough into plastic wrap and press down on the ball to form a large dish. I like to flatten mine as much as possible by hand – usually a 6 inch round disk, to minimize the amount of rolling I have to do later.
Place the disks into the fridge for at least one hour before rolling out.
Roll out your dough to a 12″ circle, based on a 9″ pie pan. Cut off any access crust and gently fold the edges under for a clean edge. For decoration, use mini cookie cutters to cut out seasonal shapes for the edges. For fall, mini leaves look festive. When the edges have been prepared and crimped, place the crust back into the fridge to chill again for at least 30 minutes.
If you’re making a crust that must be partially baked ahead of time – like with this Nutella Pecan Pie, preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Gently line the crust with aluminum foil and pie weights. If you don’t have any, dried beans work speldidly and are budget friendly. Bake for 15-25 minutes (depending on the pie). Remove from oven, remove weights and foil then fill and bake again!
It really is so easy. No tantrums, fits, booze or war paint required. Ya hear? Now, I’m craving pie. Who’s gonna bake me one?
For more perfect pies, check out these soon to be classics
Perfect Basic Pie Crust
1 ¼ cup Flour
½ tsp Salt
1 Tbsp Sugar
3 Tbsp Vegetable Shortening, cubed and chilled
5 Tbsp Butter, cubed and chilled
4-6 Tbsp Ice Cold Water
In food processor outfitted with blade attachment, pulse combine flour, sugar and salt. About 10 pulses.
Add in vegetable shortening, and pulse to combine until the mixture resembles course meal. About 10 pulses.
Add in chilled butter, and pulse to combine until the mixture resembles course meal. About 10 pulses.
Turn on food processor and with a steady stream add in four tablespoons of ice cold water. Allow to mix until the dough has formed almost a total ball. If some extraneous crumbs remain, pat them into the ball.
Flatten the dough ball into a 4-6inch disk, wrap in plastic wrap and place in fridge to chill for at least 30 minutes before rolling and baking.
If partially baking the crust before filling, preheat oven to 350. Roll out dough on a floured surface, and place in pie pan. Lightly line with aluminum foil and line with pie weights. Bake for 25 minutes. Remove from oven and fill with filling. Bake according to chosen pie recipe.
Adapted from America's Test Kitchen Basic Single Pie Crust