Super Flaky Pie Crust
Don’t you just love pie? I do. I would wrestle Jensen Eckles for a slice of pie, just for the pie. Well, maybe not just the pie, but you get the idea. The big thing with the perfect pie isn’t the filling, however. It is the pie crust. Nothing is more disappointing than a pie with mouthwatering filling when the crust is inedible.
Let’s make the perfect pie crust together! It will be flaky, tender, and will melt in your mouth. This recipe is so simple with only 4 ingredients. Our grandmothers had it right from the very beginning.Jump to Recipe
Getting Down to Basics
Nothing gets more down to basics than pie crust. I admit it was a bit intimidating, especially when my first several pies came out with a chewy, inedible crust, but once I learned the trick I made amazing pies all the time. All you have to remember is that less is more. Less water, less handling, less worrying.
Let’s start with the dry. Mix two cups of flour in a bowl with a teaspoon of salt. Simple is as simple does. Add 2/3 cup of lard or shortening and cut it in with a fork or pastry blender. I know God gave us fingers for most things but we do not want the shortening to get warm by our hot hands. I even chill my shortening the night before just to get that cold but it will work without doing that since we will be chilling the dough after its mixed anyway.
You will know when its blended enough when it looks like course meal in the bowl.
Add about 5 tablespoons of ice-cold water, a tablespoon at a time, and either knead by hand (Careful. Remember we don’t want to melt our fat) or use a food processor until it turns into a dough ball. Remember what I said about less is more? Depending on humidity in the air, your altitude, your neighbor’s new hairdo…oh wait, maybe not that… you may need less or more water. That is why I said add it a tablespoon at a time. You will see if its just too crumbly to hold together or its a soupy mess. Who knows, you may even have to have 6 tablespoons that day.
Turn your dough out on a lightly floured surface and cut the dough in half. Shape each into a ball, then a disc similar to the picture below. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill in the fridge for at least 30 minutes. The dough will absorb the moisture and soften the gluten that makes pie crusts tough. We do NOT want tough gluten!
Now to Roll Out the Yum
With a floured rolling pin, gently roll out the dough to about 1/8th of an inch thick. A good trick to remember is to roll out in different directions from the center of the dough to create a circular pie crust. Don’t panic if yours is funky around the edges. Trimming makes these imperfections our hidden secret.
Another trick I use on occasion is to put the dough disc between two sheets of wax paper or parchment paper. Roll it out as you would do normally but there is less mess and it doesn’t stick to your rolling pin. Make sure both sides of the disc are coated well with a dusting of flour first.
Remember that if you are baking a pie with two crusts (top and bottom), the bottom crust needs to be about an inch larger than the top crust.
When your crust is the right size, re-dust with a little flour to prevent sticking and gently roll it over your rolling pin. Lay the dough over the pie plate and just unroll it into place.
You can also gently fold it in half and in half again (basically into a quarter of the pie shell), move it over to the pie plate and unfold it in the dish.
Once your pie crust is set into place, take your fork and poke holes here and there (called docking). This will keep the bottom crust from ballooning with the heat + moisture from the crust. From here you can either blind bake it , which I will get to in just a bit, or just add your pie filling.
That Beautiful Edging
As for the crazy edges lapping over the side of the pie plate, there are a few ways to handle it. One is to simply trim along the edges of the dish after the filling is in to give a crisp, clean edge. Keep in mind that the dough will shrink slightly.
For a rustic looking pie, just fold the overlapping edges over the pie filling.
Fluting the edge of the crust gives a decorative touch to any pie. This is good for whether it’s a single or a double crust pie. Just pinch the dough between your fingers. Make the pinches about an inch apart.
I also crimp edges with just a fork by gently pressing the prongs on the edge of the crust.
Brush the edges with an egg wash and to ensure the crust doesn’t burn before the pie is done, take strips of aluminum foil and cover the edges all the way around (not the center of the pie! Just the edges.) until about 10 minutes before the pie is done, then remove. Some pies like pumpkin and pecan take a long time to bake and if you don’t cover the edges of the crust, your delicious pie will have a black trim. Trust me.
When it is time to bake the crust, usually you will need to just go by what the final pie recipe calls for, but the rule of thumb will be to bake it at 400 degrees Fahrenheit for however long that type of pie takes to bake unless told otherwise.
Blind Bake or Not??
Knowing how and when to blind bake a pie crust really comes in handy. Blind baking simply means that it is baked without any filling inside it. This is needed both when the pie filling doesn’t require any bake time (such as pies that just have to chill before serving) or just to ensure the bottom of the crust doesn’t get soggy in the baking process. It also keeps the sides of the crust from sagging down into the filling which does happen from time to time.
The pie crust above was docked by poking with a fork in random spots. As I said before, I do this with all my pie crusts whether I blind bake or not. It will release the moisture and keep the bottom crust from ballooning on its own if you choose not to blind bake.
Blind baking releases the heat and moisture from the pie crust before the filling is put in. Custard pies, like pumpkin, are notorious for sogging up the bottom of the crust, giving the pie with an uncooked texture. We do not want that.
Before baking (or par-baking) your crust, fill with uncooked rice or beans (or pie weights) to weigh down the crust during the baking process. After the pie crust has cooled, just re-bag the rice/beans. They are still good to cook with or to be used on another pie crust!).
Which Way to Blind Bake Do I Need?
There are two ways to blind bake a crust. One is to par-bake it. In a preheated 400 degree oven, bake your crust for 10 minutes. The crust will look pail but not done. That is what we want here. We do this when we are going to be adding filling that must be baked. This will prevent the soggy nightmare I told you about.
When the crust has cooled, pour in the filling and bake however long the recipe calls for. Remember to trim the edges with foil until about 10 minutes before its done.
The second way to blind bake is to just bake it until the crust is done, about 20 minutes. The entire crust will be a light golden brown. Do this for any no-bake pie. Allow the crust to cool completely before adding the filling.
Not Just the Pie
Please, tell me you aren’t the baker that throws away those pie crust pieces you trim off your pie! So much yumminess can be done with them.
Dust them with cinnamon and sugar and bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes. Don’t worry about how the pieces are shaped. They are the best cookie bites!
Cinnamon sticks are just as yummy! Roll out pie crust into a sheet and cut into strips. Twist them up individually, dust with cinnamon and sugar, and bake the same as with the cookie bites. I like these better than donuts!
My son got me to start baking empanadas for Thanksgiving every year. I found that instead of using just a biscuit dough and rolling it into the shapes I needed, I could do the same with pie crust. I rolled the dough into balls just bigger than a golf ball and flattened them out. Once I filled them with some zesty sweet potato filling, I crimped them closed. Then I baked them at 400 degrees for 25 minutes. I made these with a pierogi maker but until I got mine, I simply used a fork to crimp the edges sealed.
See? Pie crusts aren’t scary. Not totally. Having a simple recipe can open the door to inspiration and the flavors are so much better when it is homemade. Your family will praise you, for sure. Try it and let me know how it turned out for your family’s table.
Super Flaky Pie Crust
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 tsp salt
- ⅔ cup shortening or lard cold
- 5 Tbsp water ice-cold
- Mix together salt and flour in a medium size bowl.
- Add shortening and blend it into the dry mixture with a fork or pastry cutter until it has a crumbly texture.
- Gradually add the ice water a tablespoon at a time until the dough is formed. You can use a food processor but do not overmix.
- Turn out dough onto a lightly floured surface and cut in half. Roll each into a ball and then shape into a disc.
- Wrap in plastic wrap and chill for at least 30 minutes.
- Place discs on the floured surface and roll out to about ⅛ of an inch thick, rolling from the center outward.
- Roll crust over the rolling pin and use it to transfer the crust to the pie plate.
- Dock the crust by poking it randomly across the bottom.
- Shape the crust into the pie plate and style the edges as you like.
- To bake the crust as is, place in a preheated 400°F oven for 20 minutes.
Keep an eye open for my new cookbook!
Yep! We finally did it! This isn’t just any cookbook. This is a blank recipe book for your own family’s treasured heirloom recipes and will come in 8 different colors: red, yellow, teal, dark blue, light blue, green, pink, and purple. It is designed with you in mind with a hardcover so it can be filled with your own recipes and passed down through the generations just as great recipes should be. The announcement for the release is coming some time this week! So exciting!