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How to Make Pie Crust

Traditional Pie Crust

2-1/4 cups all purpose flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup minus 2 Tbsp. shortening
about 1/3 cup cold water

Mix flour and salt in large bowl. With a pastry blender or two knives, cut about 2/3 of the shortening into flour until the mixture has a texture like cornmeal. Then cut in the rest of the shortening until the crumbs are the size of peas. Sprinkle water, 1 tablespoon at a time, over the mixture, tossing with a fork until the particles stick together. Don't add too much water so the dough is sticky - that makes the pastry tough. If you don't add enough water, the dough will be crumbly and hard to work with. Just keep going until it looks like pie dough and forms a smooth, malleable ball.

Gather up the particles, form a ball by pressing gently, wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for about 30 minutes. Then divide the dough in half.

For the flour method of rolling out the dough, sprinkle your work surface lightly with flour. A stocking (or stockinette) for your rolling pin will aid this process. Flatten the dough gently, then sprinkle the top with flour too. Rub some flour into the stockinette covered rolling pin. Roll from center to edge, in all directions, forming a circle about 2" wider than an inverted pie crust. You can pinch cracks together. Turn the pastry frequently while rolling to make sure it isn't sticking to your work surface, dusting with flour occasionally. Then fold the pastry in half, then in half again to form a 1/4 circle, and lift into pie plate. Unfold and ease into the pan.

Gently press into the bottom of the pan, easing the dough down. Don't pull or stretch the dough. Then fill it, and repeat the process with the top crust. Fold the edge of the top crust under the bottom crust and pinch to seal. Then pinch the edges together between your thumb and forefinger, or use a fork to press the edge down. Use your imagination to make a pattern! You can use your thumb and forefinger of one hand and forefinger of the other to make a scallop, or attach dough cutouts with an egg wash.

To make a single pie crust, cut the ingredients in half.

When making a single pie crust (no top crust), I use a tip I learned at a food styling session at Pillsbury and pop the crust into the freezer for 10 minutes before it is baked. That firms up the shortening and when the crust is placed in the hot oven the fluted edge holds its pattern better. To bake a one crust pan to be filled with a chilled filling, line the crust with foil and pour unbaked dried beans into the crust. Remove the foil and beans for the last 3 minutes of baking time so the crust can brown.

For some super easy press-in-the-pan recipes, check out Nut Cookie Crust and a Cookie Pie Crust where you bake crumbs and then press them into the pan.

For more information and recipes, see Pie Crust 101. And practice! Every time you make a pie crust from scratch, it will get easier. Soon it will take only a few minutes - less time than letting a refrigerated crust soften at room temperature. And the cost savings are really tremendous. Have fun experimenting!

Linda

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