I operate on the firm principle that no self respecting baker would ever use a pre-made crust. I know a number of outstanding hands in the kitchen that use pre-made crusts, but I can’t help but feel a twinge of sadness at the taste and quality lost by not making a fresh crust. By comparison, fresh crusts are light, flaky, crispy, tasty, and it’s something that everyone seems to appreciate. Bake a pie and mention that the crust is home-made…let the oohs and aahs commence.
Ease of Preparation: So Easy There’s No Excuse Not To Make It
The recipe and ingredient list below will make ONE pie crust for a 9-inch pie pan. For pies that require a crust on top, double the recipe.
- 1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/3 cup Shortening (Crisco)
- 3 tablespoons cold water
Mix together the flour and salt in a large bowl. Add the shortening and mix in until the mixture looks pebbly. You can use a pastry mixer if you have one, but I find that a fork works just as well to combine the shortening and dry ingredients. Don’t use your fingers for this. The heat from your hands will alter the shortening and change the texture of the crust. Once the shortening is fully incorporated and the mixture looks sandy, add the cold water and mix with a wooden spoon. The dough will begin to form a dough ball. Working quickly, use your hands to fully combine the ingredients into dough and turn out onto a lightly floured surface.
Using a rolling pin, evenly roll out the dough into a shape that as closely resembles a circle as possible – my rolled circles are often suspect. Hold the pie sheet over the rolled dough to eyeball the size and confirm that the dough ahs been rolled out large enough.
Once the dough is rolled out, place it in the pie dish. The easiest way to do this – pictures follow – is to fold it in half, and then in half again so that it is in a triangular shape. Place the dough in the dish and unfold it so that it fully covers the dish.
Lightly press the dough into the dish smoothing out the dough. Don’t worry if some of the dish is exposed, we’ll deal with that next. Cut the excess dough that hangs over the lip of the dish off and place it aside. Slightly moisten bits of the excess dough with water – it will act as glue – and fill in the gaps around the edge of the dish to fully finish the dough’s prep. See the picture above for the finished product.
Update (1/23/10) – As my Mom rightly pointed out, depending on the type of pie, you may have to bake the crust in advance. Pies that have a filling needing baking can be made without pre-baking the dough, but meringues and other pies that finish by setting without baking would require that the crust be baked ahead of time.