14 March 2010

I Ain't Scared

How come so many of us tremble and quake at the thought of making a pie crust? Is it the cutting in of butter into "small peas"? Or the sprinkling of water that never seems enough until you've sprinkled so much it turns gooey? Maybe the rolling out and then praying it stays in one piece as you beg it to slide into the pie pan. And the crimping. Of course you have to manage that edge crimping.

There are a lot of steps to making a crust. But those fillings are so darn easy and pie always looks so impressive! Recently, I decided the fear and perfectionism must be banished and pie crust making must commence. Since I am all about quick tips and cheater versions, here are a couple to nudge you towards that empty pie pan:

Wax Paper
Someone recently explained to me how she rolls out her dough in between two pieces of lightly floured waxed paper. I can't even begin to explain how much easier this is! Dampen your counter slightly so the paper doesn't wiggle all around and roll from the center out.

Once you can flip a pie pan on top of the rolled-out dough for measurement, making sure it is a good inch wider than the pan all the way around, trim the edges with a knife so it is a nice, smooth circle. (Save the scraps to toast up with cinnamon sugar for the tots. And if you are clever like my mother, they can even re-roll it and use small cookie cutters.)

Now, here's some more brilliance. Peel off the top layer of waxed paper and discard. Lift the bottom piece of waxed paper up by the middle, with pie crust on it, and ... while still holding in the air ... let it fold in half, dough side up, like an upside-down taco. Are you still with me? All you have to do now is place the folded pie-crust in the pan with the middle at the center of the pan. Grab the top corners of the waxed paper to unfold onto the other half of pan. You can now wiggle it around until it is centered perfectly. Gently, gently, peel off the waxed paper. Voila! All you have to do now is press into pan, fold under edges and do a little crimping. And if the crimping has you flustered, just press around the edges with the tines of a fork and call it good.

Crumb Topping!
Near breathless from just completing one pie crust let alone two? Don't bother putting a crust on the top, just toss together a little crumble. Flour, sugar, butter, and even some oats. Every cookbook has a recipe.

I still don't make amazing pie crusts. But pie has a way of still tasting delicious. Added bonus? Tell your family you made them a pie and you'll lauded with praise and smiles. Definitely worth the effort.

Any more pie tips out there? I'd love to hear them.

• Butter Pie Crust •
Single pie crust recipe. Double if needed.

Combine in mixer:
1.25 c. unbleached flour
.25 t. salt

Add (or cut in by hand) mix 'til coarse crumb texture:
.5 c. butter, chilled and diced

Slowly add, 'til mixture forms a smooth ball (Don't overmix!):
2 T cold water

Let rest and roll out as usual.

If precooking:
Prick with fork and refrigerate for about 30 minutes. Bake at 400 degrees for 10 minutes with parchment lining and pie weights (I use dried beans!), then remove paper and weights and bake for another 10-15 minutes.


  1. Right on! Conquer the pie crust. Those gals a generation or two before us just did it.
    The results are worth all that practice. Yours looks yummy.

  2. What a GREAT tip with the wax paper! I usually would just roll it up onto my rolling pin and then roll it off into the pie pan...kwim? This sounds so mess!

    Thanks! :)
    PS-I always forget to do that with the leftover dough & the kiddos! Thanks for the reminder!

  3. Thanks for the tips, Anna! I admit, I have always found the pie crust to be intimidating, but that wax paper trick might ease my fears now.

  4. Can your pie fillings ahead of time! I put up several jars of both peach and raspberry pie filling last summer. It stores well, and tastes fabulous. The best part? Raspberry pie made with locally grown raspberries - in January! I recommend the recipes on this website.

  5. Beautiful! My stepmom taught me the secret years ago & it's well, easy as pie! :) The trick is to mix your crust & get it worked easily into a ball then let it rest. I cover it with a tea towel & let it sit on the counter while I make my filling.

    When I'm done mixing the filling, the gluten in the flour has had a chance to react to the rest of the ingredients & suddenly it's super easy to roll, not unlike play dough. Just be careful not to overwork it, roll as minimally as possible.

    Honestly it works every single time and I use the basic recipe from Better Homes &Gardens Cookbook, you know flour, Crisco, salt, ice water. Easy, breezy.

    Congrats on ditching perfectionism & making a wonderful pie & hopefully nice memories in your nest!
    Donna in IL

    ps, I've learned that cooking instructions, like sewing patterns, often leave out steps they assume you know, the trick is to watch a pro & take notice of all the little mini-steps that make whatever it is turn out exceptionally well. Once I figured that out, my cooking AND sewing improved drastically :D

  6. I've never made a pie crust because I'm more of a cook than baker. I've found healthy crusts at Trader Joe's. However, the wax paper sounds like a good idea!