As we close in on the holidays it’s time to start thinking about pie. A good pie MUST start with a good crust. Easy as it may be, the ready made variety available at the grocery store is not going to yield a great result. My method and my recipe come from a variety of sources I have encountered over the years. My mom, who was an accomplished baker, The Pie and Pastry Bible, and years and years of baking pies for my pie lovin’ husband. He considers himself to be the ultimate judge of a good pie and I think he may just be right.
Homemade pie crust gets a bad rap as being difficult to make when it’s actually so simple. Using a food processor makes it quick and easy. You can get your pie crust made and resting comfortably in your refrigerator in nothing flat. It consists of 6 ingredients that are basic pantry staples.
All-purpose flour, unsalted butter, shortening, cider vinegar, water, and salt. It is important that the butter and shortening be straight from the refrigerator COLD. You do not want them room temperature. We are also going to use ice water to keep things cool.
Lets talk about fat. You will see recipes that call for either shortening or butter. Shortening tends to add flakiness while butter adds flavor. I’ve come to a compromise in my recipe and use both. I keep Crisco Baking Sticks in my fridge so they’ll be ready to go when I’m pie baking. They are packaged like butter and easy to measure out for recipes. Cut the shortening and butter into pieces so it will incorporate into the dry mixture easily.
After you’ve pulsed together the flour and salt, add the butter and shortening pieces.
Add in 1 tablespoon of cider vinegar. There is some fantastic scientific explanation about how the acid in the vinegar works with the gluten strands in the flour to produce a flaky crust or some such thing. Bottom line is that it doesn’t affect the flavor of the crust but does help the texture. Just be sure to add it before you start adding in the water so you can control the moisture.
Only add enough water until the pastry holds together and sticks to the side of the food processor bowl. Start with 4 tablespoons and pulse. Add additional water only if needed. The amount needed can vary but I never need more than 5 tablespoons. It might be different for you and this probably also has some really cool scientific explanation.
Roll it out. You may need to sprinkle a bit of flour on the top of the crust to prevent it from sticking to the rolling pin. Using your pie dish as a guide, be sure it is rolled out large enough to fit in the dish with at least a 1″ or 2″ overhang.
Trim the edges of the crust leaving a small amount to hang over the edge. The crust can shrink a bit in the oven. Don’t worry, we’ll make it look pretty.
Basic Pie Crust (Food Processor Method)
Yield: 2 crusts
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, very cold
- 6 tablespoons shortening, regular or butter flavored, very cold
- 2 cups flour
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 4 to 6 tablespoons ice water
- 1 tablespoon cider vinegar
Place the flour and salt in the bowl of a food processor. and pulse 4 or 5 times till combined.
Cut butter and shortening into small pieces. Add to the flour and process about 20 seconds or until the mixture resembles coarse meal.
Add the vinegar and 4 tablespoons water and pulse about 6 times. Add additional water by the tablespoon and pulse until mixture begins to hold together. You may not need to use all the water.
Remove pastry from the food processor bowl, divide in two, and wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour or up to two days.
When ready to roll out, remove from refrigerator and let rest on counter for about 10-15 minutes. Flour a large board and using a rolling pin, roll the pastry out until it is large enough to fit your pie plate, leaving about a 1″ or 2″ overhang. Press the pastry gently down into the plate and then trim the edges to fit the pan with a sharp knife. Tuck top edge of crust over and crimp with your fingers. Prick the bottom of the crust with a fork, fill the crust, and bake according to your pie recipe’s directions.