Four Ways to Fail Pie Crust School

Recipe Book Towel and Pie Pan feature image

Today I’m going to talk about pie crust.

I know.

Anyone who knows me will wonder what expertise I could possibly have to share about pie crust. I don’t, and that’s why I have quite a bit to say about it.

I’ve spent years trying to acquire pie crust expertise.

Betty Crocker never worked so hard in her test kitchen, trying every tip and trick I read or heard about to reach Pie Crust Blue Ribbon Status.

recipe book open with pie making tools

The Tupperware Little Red Bowl Pie Crust Making Tip

Well, the Tupperware lady made it look so easy. You just throw all the ingredients into this little red bowl, snap the lid on, and shake. Voila! A ball of dough forms all by itself, and all you have to do is roll it out, pop it in a pan, fill it, and bake. Of course I bought that miracle bowl. And every pie crust during that particular chapter of my quest was, well, to go easy on myself, mealy textured. I could shake till my brains rattled, but the dough, while definitely consistent, was consistently mealy.

Disappointed, I retired my Little Red Bowl to the back of the deep corner cupboard, where it resides to this day.

The Two Knife Tried and True Pie Crust Tip

This tip came from my niece, who learned it at a pastry chef class. Cut the shortening into the flour, wielding a knife in each hand. The Most Important Thing in this method was speed. After the shortening is cut in, add the liquid, and with two or three turns incorporate the dry ingredients, and, VOILA, flaky crust.

The only flaky part of that stage of testing turned out to be the chef. Two or three turns. Right. There wasn’t total incorporation till about twenty-three turns.

Standing Recipe Book with Pie Crust tools

The Cuisinart Pie Crust Test Stage

I don’t know who to blame for this stage of the testing game. Probably a magazine, because back then you couldn’t Google “best pie crust” and come up with fifty ways. We depended on Good Housekeeping or, in my case, Canada’s Chatelaine, for the latest kitchen trends.

I have selective memory about this time. It would probably take hypnosis to bring out all the traumatic details of the clash between Cuisinart, pie crust, and me. I do feel fortunate that the food processor is still in my life for other recipes. It didn’t suffer the same fate as The Little Red Bowl.

The Special Flour for Pie Crust Tip

Back in the dark ages, as a new bride trying to be a good hostess, I thought I could make pie. I presented my guests with picture perfect pieces of pie on my best china. Domestic Goddess of the Year. That triumph lasted until pieces of pie crust began to go ballistic, forks collided loudly with china plates, and no one could stifle the chuckles anymore. My friend asked if we had a chain saw!

No, since you ask, our paths haven’t crossed for years now.

Chain saw.

We just slowly drifted apart.

That’s when I discovered there were different shades of flour. High gluten. Hard wheat. All purpose. Bread flour. What? When did that happen? And which one is for pie?

I have yet to sort it out. 

Sometimes bread flour makes cookies in my kitchen,
and sometimes pie flour stands in for cake flour.

What can I say?

I don’t have enough canisters.

pie crust recipe page

What I Have Learned So Far

There are no shortcuts to the perfect pie crust.

Trust me on that. But since I’ve been around the block a few times in my journey to pie crust heaven, I’ll share:

The Ultimate Tip to the Perfect Pie

  • Get in your car with your driver’s license and credit card.
  • Drive to your nearest grocery store.
  • Head for the frozen pie section.
  • Pick up a Marie Callender’s Razzleberry Pie or two.
  • Go home and follow the directions on the box.
  • Wowza!  Hot pie with red berries oozing from a perfect pie crust, ice cream melting on the top.
  • The journey is over, friends.  We have now arrived at The Perfect Pie Place.

Just In Case You Want a Different Flavor of Pie

I do have a few lasting tricks I have taken with me from my long odyssey to the Perfect Pie Place.

This is my recipe, which you can copy into your Book of Favorite Recipes.

But, and this is really, really important:  Write in pencil.  Because, well, you know why.  It’s a long trip to get there.

 

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