Making perfect pie crusts

Flaky & beautiful

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Good pie crusts don't have to be difficult. The secret isn't in the recipe (though a good one helps), it's following the right procedures. Follow these instructions to get spectacular results every time.

You really can use any recipe you want. But there are a few guidelines you should follow no matter what recipe you use.

Guidlines:

  • Mix the dry ingredients together before adding any fat or liquid.
  • Always chill the fat (butter, shortening, etc.) and liquid before you begin to prevent the fat from creaming into the flour
  • Don't use a spoon or spatula to add the fat. Instead, cut it in with a pastry cutter (or by pinching it with your hands). Better yet, use a food processor. Just pulse half the fat in until it's the texture of cornmeal, then add the rest of the fat and pulse until it's the size of small peas and transfer it into a bowl.
  • Pour the liquid in about one tablespoon at a time and press it in with a fork until it begins to form a dough. Don't handle it too much once it's incorporated or your crust will get tough.

Directions:

  1. After you make your dough (dividing it in two if you made a double batch), flatten it into a disk and chill it in the refridgerator for 30 minutes to an hour. Getting the dough cool lets you roll it out more efficiently because it won't spring back.
  2. Roll it out between two sheets of parchment or wax paper. The parchment or wax paper will save you time in cleanup and you'll use less flour, ensuring your crust is tender and flaky. If you don't have parchment or wax paper, roll it out on a well-floured surface with a floured rolling pin.
  3. To keep the round shape, first roll one direction, then the another, attempting to keep the disk shape at all times.The finished dough should be about 1-1/4 times the size of the pie pan.
  4. Carefully, fold the dough in half (ensuring you don't tear it) and place it in the pie pan. Trim off any excess dough, leaving about 1 to 1-1/2 inches folding over the side of the pie pan. (Leftover pie crust scraps can be brushed with butter and topped with a bit of cinammon and sugar and baked for a quick snack while you wait for your pie.)
  5. Fold the edges under so it forms a double layer of dough on the crust edge.
  6. Using your thumb on one hand and your thumb and index finger on the other, crimp the edges of the dough around edge of the pie by using your thumb to press the dough in between the other two fingers on the other hand. The finished product should be a uniform wave around the edge of the pie.

If you plan to bake the crust before filling it, place a layer of aluminum foil inside it and fill it with dried beans or pie weights to prevent the crust from puffing up when it bakes. Now you just need a killer pie recipe!

Try these pie recipes

Simple s'mores pie recipe
Macaroni pie recipe
Drunken skillet cherry pie recipe

Heather Barnett is a freelance writer and foodie whose work has been featured in blogs, websites, magazines, and TV and radio ads. She spends her free time relaxing with her soulmate, Keith; her dog, Mosby "The Fly Slayer;" and Felix the Fish. You can follow her on Twitter @HireHeather.