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I love to bake pies

March 10, 2011

I have for probably almost 20 years or so, ever since I was in 4-H and each member had to provide a homemade double-crust fruit pie to be sold in the food stand. Our mom wouldn’t make it for us, we had to learn to make it ourselves.

It wasn’t always easy, and they weren’t always perfect, but I really learned to enjoy making them, and have even gotten fairly proficient at it. Enough so, that my mom says she prefers that I make the pies for holiday gatherings.

I haven’t tried many different pie crust recipes in those 20 years, I’ve basically stayed true to the simple flour, shortening, salt and water recipe in the Betty Crocker cookbook. The only change I’ve made is now I only use lard in my crusts. I know, a lot of people are saying “Lard? Really?” but trust me, it’s worth it. I much prefer it over using Crisco or butter, but that’s also just my preference. No, it’s definitely not healthy for you, but if you’re eating pie in the first place, you’re probably not all that worried about health anyway.

I don’t have a food processor, so this is all done the old-fashioned way with a bowl, a pastry cutter and a spoon or fork (or both).

Simple Single-Crust Pie Crust Recipe:
1 c. all-purpose flour
1/4 t. salt
1/3 c. lard (or shortening)
ice cold water

Mix flour and salt together in a large bowl

Add the 1/3 c lard to the bowl

We got four large containers of rendered lard the last time we had a hog processed at a local meat locker two years ago.

We gave one container to the ILs, have gone through one container and am working our way through the second. And I think we still have at least one more container in the deep freeze. That should tell you how much I like to make pies, considering one crust only uses 1/3 cup.

Using a pastry cutter, cut the lard into the flour/salt

This is actually one of my favorite steps, I like the process of cutting the lard into the flour and getting it to the right consistency.

Keep cutting it together until the pieces resemble a rough meal, or are about the size of a small sweet pea. You don’t want to over cut it, but you don’t want the pieces too large, either.

Sprinkle in ice-cold water, one tablespoon at a time.

After two or three tablespoons, mix the dough together with a fork. Keep adding water, one tablespoon at a time, and mixing the dough until it forms together. Too little water and the crust won’t hold together (I’ve had that issue many times), too much water and the dough is too sticky and tough.

Roll your crust out on a well-floured surface. My MIL gave me this pastry cloth as a bridal shower present eight years ago. I didn’t use it very often at first, and the hub will attest that there was much yelling of profanity and pulling of hair when I tried to roll out crusts without it. You don’t have to have one, but I have found, at least in my experience, it does help.

A french pin isn’t required either, but it sure is nice.

Roll the crust out, flipping at least once (before the crust gets too big) and reflouring the surface as necessary. You want the crust to be a nice disc shape. I can never get it to be a perfect circle, it’s always more blob-like.

Now comes the most difficult part – transferring the crust to the pie pan. I’ve tried a couple different methods – plastic wrap, parchment paper, rolling it around the rolling pin – but my favored method is the fold.

Carefully fold the crust in half, and in half again until it’s a quarter circle. Then, carefully transfer the folded crust to the pie pan, placing the point approximately in the center of the dish.

Then, carefully unfold (notice a trend here?)

And unfold again, until the pan is covered with the crust.

Now, there is the chance the crust could tear a bit on the folds, but that’s okay because you’ll be fixing those, along with any other tears, rips or bare spots in the crust.

Fortunately, for this pie, I don’t have any of those spots. Unfortunately, for you, I can’t show you how to fix them. But it’s very easy. Just press the dough together with your fingers. If necessary, carefully tear off any excess overhang from the sides to patch together open spots on the edges, pressing the dough together with your fingers.

Once that’s done, you can either trim off the excess crust from the sides or fold it under. I prefer to fold it under because I’m kind of lazy, plus I like a nice thick crust on the edges, but if you trim it off you can always sprinkle the extra pieces with cinnamon and sugar and bake them for a nice little treat.

Next, it’s time to edge the crust. I’ve found pinching the dough between my thumb and pointer finger works easiest for me, my mom likes to flute it (I never could get the hang of that).

One pie crust, ready for filling. I used this crust for a delicious sweet potato pie I made for our Mardi Gras meal on Tuesday. I think there’s only about half of a piece left that we promised the kiddo he could have after supper tonight. It was my first attempt at sweet potato pie and it was heavenly. I’ll have to post the recipe sometime.

Pie crust takes a lot of practice, but once you get the hang of it, there’s nothing tastier in the world.

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. March 10, 2011 4:30 pm

    I am so happy you called it, and used, lard! It is national pie week in the UK, and this could be one to share!

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