Along with bread baking, pie making is a joy for me.
I have a satisfaction making pies from scratch that I can’t really explain. I don’t care if it is a baked custard (pumpkin, black bottom, rhubarb custard, pecan), fresh or frozen fruit (apple, blueberry, cherry), or cream (chocolate, coconut, butterscotch) pie. I just love the way they look when they are done. Bringing a fresh pie out of the oven makes me smile. My art, I suppose.
I am not a perfectionist by any stretch. But I do have standards and I definitely have standards for the pies I bake. Crust made from scratch. Fillings, also made from scratch that the intended audience prefers. Suitable (pure) toppings, if required.
I tried a number of pie crust recipes when I was a young wife. I landed on this “Fool Proof Pie Crust” recipe that came from both my mother and my mother-in-law.
(makes 4 crusts)
Put 4 cups of flour in a food processor. (When my mother-in-law asked me what I wanted of hers when she died, I told her the Cuisinart.) Add 1 tablespoon sugar and 1 teaspoon salt.
Add 1 1/2 cups Crisco (I think it has to be Crisco.) and pulse until the Crisco is mixed in and the mixture resembles course sand.
Mix in a measuring cup, 1 cup cold water, 1 egg, 1 tablespoon vinegar. While food processor is on, slowly pour in liquid mixture, allowing to process until the mixture holds together in a ball.
Gather the dough into a solid ball and wrap in wax paper or plastic wrap and refrigerate for several hours or overnight.
Cut a piece of the dough off the size needed for a crust and roll it out on a well floured surface. Fit into pie pan and cook according to pie recipe.
- Avoid over-mixing the shortening into the flour mixture.
- Cooling the dough makes it easy to handle. If you must rush, put it into the freezer for as long as possible. You will have to add more flour and the crust may be a bit tougher, but it will be edible, for sure.
- For ease in getting the rolled out crust into the pan, fold it in half, then slip it into the pan and unfold.
- You can roll the dough out on floured wax paper when you are learning. When transferring to the pan, turn the pie pan upside down on the crust, then use the wax paper to flip it over.
- When baking a crust for a cream filling, prick it well with a fork to keep it from having air bubbles. Lots of pricking is a good idea.
- Decide your mark for a double crust pie. It is a personal expression. Before moving it from the rolling out board to the top of the pie, use a knife to make some slits in the top for steam.
- For a double crust pie, after adding the filling, wet the edge of the bottom crust with water, using your finger, before adjusting the top crust on. It will seal it up nicely.
Holiday pie requests in our family are usually pecan (son-in-law and maybe, a son), pumpkin (another son), and cherry or blueberry (daughter). I happily oblige!