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Baking Dessert Holidays Pies

Thankfulness and Twelve Hard-Learned Truths about Pie Crust

November 23, 2021

I was pooped last night and just wanted to get into my jammies and go to bed. But, if I had, I would have missed such a pretty little scene in terminally cute Harmony. I’m glad I forced myself to bundle up like Ralphie’s little brother in A Christmas Story, and go for an evening walk.

(If this is fall, I’m in for an ugly surprise when winter arrives.)

I stood in the cold watching the moon play peek-a-boo while golden holiday lights lit my way to a couple of perfect benches. I didn’t sit for long because you can morph into an icicle on a twenty six degree night, but it was lovely for a few minutes.

Harmony is decorated for Christmas because they have a big New Year’s Eve bash, plus a couple of weeks ago they held a German Christmas Market. Carolyn and I braved the freezing rain, drank hot mulled wine, and shopped. After 40 years of being away, it’s great to spend time like that, even in freezing rain. I’m sure I’ll be back to taking everyone for granted soon, but for right now, I’m still pretty thankful for every moment.

Which brings me to Thanksgiving and pie baking, which is probably what you’re doing tonight and tomorrow!

If you need a good pie crust recipe, try the one below. It’s my mom’s updated recipe. Some people know all the science behind a good pie crust and God bless them. Chemistry was never my forte (or my mom’s) but here’s a link to a website that breaks some pie crust chemistry down for you. It’s called Kitchn. I learned through watching Mom, plus a lot of trial and error. And if you’re looking for a great pecan pie recipe, check this one out, it is Kimberly Swan’s Amazing Pecan Pie. She made it one Thanksgiving and I about died it was so absolutely delicious!

I apologize for changing these, but cooking is always evolving and so am I. Here are my twelve, hard-learned truths about pie crusts. Below them is my pie crust recipe:

#1. My mom used all Crisco because everyone did back then. Many say butter is more flavorful, but Butter Flavor Crisco really works. I tried using all butter, but my crust turned out really crunchy, which was not what I was looking for. (Maybe I added too much liquid?) Some people, like my lifelong friend Dawn of Heliographics fame, made me a peach pie to die for this past summer, and the crust was all butter. Maybe she has magic powers, but for today, I will stick with half butter, half Butter Flavor Crisco.

#2. I also know that a crust turns out flakier if you bake it at a higher temperature like 425 at first then reduce the heat to 350.

#3. I know that a pie crust shield stops your crust from burning. My favorite is Mrs. Anderson’s Baking Pie Crust Protector Shield. You can get it at Amazon.

#4. I know that pre-baking a pumpkin pie’s crust can help reduce soggy bottoms. But, again, the crust will bake pretty dark, even with a pie crust shield, and after a day or two in the fridge, the bottom crust will still be soggy, so honestly, just deal with the fact that your bottom crust will never be flaky heaven in a pumpkin pie.

#5. People say that making a pie crust with vodka makes the crust flakier. I’ve tried it and didn’t notice a difference. I just use milk with an ice cube in it, or half whipping cream and half ice water. As long as the liquid and the butter are cold, you’re on the right track.

#6. Always use a food processor to mix your flour, sugar, salt and butter together. Not only is it easier, it makes the crust turn out great with very little effort on your part. Next add the milk or cream mixture. (The woman at Kitchn says mixing it with a spatula makes a flakier dough…I tried it and did not find that to be true.

#7. Don’t overwork the dough. Add just enough liquid to make it hold together. I may be one of those who adds too much liquid. If that’s true, I’ll let you know if less liquid helps make it flakier.

#8. After you mix your crust together with the milk, or cream and ice water, flatten it into a disc, wrap it in floured plastic wrap and put it in the freezer. After about an hour, roll it out. Once your pie is put together, pop it back into the freezer for about 10 minutes, then bake it.

#9. Before baking, you can brush your crust lightly with whipping cream or an egg white to give it a nice finish.

#10. If you’re just baking a pie shell, be sure to prick the bottom and the sides of the crust so it doesn’t bubble up.

#11. If you’re making a double crust pie, put your pie on the bottom rack so the bottom cooks and doesn’t get too soggy.

#12. If you’re baking a fruit pie, always put a cookie sheet underneath to catch the drips from the cooking fruit.

I wish each of you a wonderful, healthy, happy Thanksgiving, and thank you for always taking the time to read my blog. I am so grateful for you! Please feel free to share this post if you thought it was helpful. And if you’re not following me already, please do! I need all the followers I can get! Happy Thanksgiving.

Mom’s Perfect Pie Crust

Yields1 Serving

 2 ½ cups flour
 1 tbsp sugar
 1 tsp kosher salt
 1 cup butter
 1 cup cold milk, or half whipping cream, half ice water

1

Mix together the flour, sugar, and salt in a food processor.
Cut the butter into 1/2 inch pieces and process until the flour looks like small pebbles.

2

Mix in the the liquid (cold milk or cold whipping cream and water)with a spatula. Next divide the dough into four parts. Place each part on floured plastic wrap, flatten it into a disc and freeze it for about an hour.

3

Roll out the dough, lay it in the pie pan and fill it with your favorite filling. Place the top crust on and poke holes in it with a fork. Brush it lightly with whipping cream or an egg white. Place the pie crust shield on. Bake pie for 425 for 15 minutes, then lower the heat to 350.

Ingredients

 2 ½ cups flour
 1 tbsp sugar
 1 tsp kosher salt
 1 cup butter
 1 cup cold milk, or half whipping cream, half ice water

Directions

1

Mix together the flour, sugar, and salt in a food processor.
Cut the butter into 1/2 inch pieces and process until the flour looks like small pebbles.

2

Mix in the the liquid (cold milk or cold whipping cream and water)with a spatula. Next divide the dough into four parts. Place each part on floured plastic wrap, flatten it into a disc and freeze it for about an hour.

3

Roll out the dough, lay it in the pie pan and fill it with your favorite filling. Place the top crust on and poke holes in it with a fork. Brush it lightly with whipping cream or an egg white. Place the pie crust shield on. Bake pie for 425 for 15 minutes, then lower the heat to 350.

Mom’s Perfect Pie Crust

  • Reply
    The Winning Pumpkin Pie Recipe – At Fran's Table
    December 10, 2021 at 9:42 am

    […] And I’ve decided that an all butter pie crust was interesting and had a lot of crunch, but for me, the combo of half butter and half Butter Flavor Crisco seems to give me more flake and less crunch. So, I’ve revised my 12 Hard Learned Truths About Pie Crusts. Please pardon me. As you know, cooking is a science that is always evolving. Here’s a link to that revision: Thankfulness and Twelve Hard-Learned Truths About Pie Crust. […]

  • Reply
    Nicol Z
    November 29, 2021 at 1:08 pm

    Bookmarking this one for any pie adventures I may have. I didn’t grow up baking, but I sure do love to eat it!

  • Reply
    Charles Burkett
    November 26, 2021 at 11:21 am

    Thanks Fran. I’m on a mission to improve my pie crusts!

    • Reply
      Fran Tunno
      November 26, 2021 at 3:48 pm

      Me too Chuck, even after my last post, I’m re-thinking it again!!!!! Mine turned out so crunchy when I put them in at a high temp at first. Some loved it, but I like a more tender crust. I love that you are working on it too!

  • Reply
    Nora
    November 24, 2021 at 7:46 am

    Perfect timing with your sage advice Fran! Thank you so much.

    • Reply
      Fran Tunno
      November 24, 2021 at 8:55 am

      Thank you Nora, I miss seeing your smiling face when I get off the elevator. I hope you are happy in your new position! Have a wonderful Thanksgiving! xo

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