Cathy's Blog

The Picky Cook: Pie Crust

When I say I’m a picky cook I don’t mean I’m a picky eater. I’m just mighty fussy about how food is prepared–and I know I’m not the only one who feels this way. Having recently put together The Picky Cook for my family, a slim volume containing recipes I have perfected over decades in the kitchen, I am now ready to share them with the world! High on my list of things I will not eat is store-bought pie because the crusts are beyond awful. The following is my signature pie crust recipe for a two-crust pie:

Signature Pie Crust Recipe

  • 2 cups unbleached white flour mixed in a big bowl with 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup cold sweet butter and 1/2 cup cold lard
  • 4-6 tablespoons ice water

Shave the butter into the flour, then the lard. (If you have a problem with lard, you can substitute margarine and use less water, but the crust will not be as flaky. An all-butter crust=no flakes whatsoever. This is science here.) Dice fat into flour with pastry cutter until it is the size of peas. Dribble water over dough a tablespoon at a time, lightly forking moist flour into dry, until you can form the dough into 2 balls, one slightly larger than the other. Flatten each between two sheets of plastic wrap and refrigerate until solid. Meanwhile, prepare filling and preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Now comes the part that involves a little artistry, but rolling out a visually perfect crust is not the goal. Initial results may not be pretty, but this rich dough is so malleable that rips are easily patched, like working with clay:

Place the larger round on a floured surface and smooth more flour on top. Starting in the center, gently roll pin to the edges until the round is about 1/4 inch thick, loosening and turning it frequently with a spatula. Curl one edge of the round over the pin and gently roll crust around pin, layering it, then unroll it over a 9-inch pie pan and ease into place.  Patch where needed. Add filling.

Repeat rolling/patching process with top crust and place it over filling. Trim excess edges and seal with the tines of a fork, poke holes in the top, and sprinkle lightly with sugar and cinnamon. Bake on oven’s center rack over a cookie sheet. After 10 minutes lower temperature to 350 and continue baking until filling juices bubble through the top crust, usually about an hour. Cool to allow filling to thicken before serving.

I can pretty much guarantee that whoever eats this pie will love you and beg for a repeat performance.

July 26, 2015

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