Pie Crusts - basic shells
Pie Crust Tips
There is nothing better than a tender, flaky pie crust to go with your favorite pie. Here are some of the pie crust "rules."
1. Always measure your ingredients when baking pies. In order for your crust to be tender, you should not use too much flour or water. If your shortening is not measured exactly, your crust may fall apart.
2. Do not overwork the dough. Handle it as little as possible. Stir your dry ingredients together, then cut-in shortening. I use 2 table knives, but if you have a pastry blender, that will work, too.
3. Add 1 Tablespoon water at a time and toss it gently, then add another Tablespoon and toss, etc.
4. When rolling out your crust, use flour on the rolling pin and a little flour on the surface, to prevent sticking. I usually roll it out on parchment paper and just lightly flour the paper.
5. Roll your crust from the center to the edges until you have an even thickness. Make the circle larger than your pie plate and cut off the excess after you place it in the plate. Do not stretch the dough to fit or it will shrink when baking.
6. My pie plates are glass because I think the crust browns better, but you can use metal if you prefer. Dull metal pans retain the heat better than shiny pans. Shiny pans are better for crumb crusts, like graham cracker.
7. Always pre-heat your oven before baking to avoid soggy crusts.
Basic Pie Crust - Single-crust
The trend today is to make tarts rather than pie. That's o.k., too. The traditional way is to use all-purpose flour, salt, shortening and cold water. Another basic crust is to melt butter until it browns, then chill it until it is solid, then use it as shortening. Everything is done by hand.
You can use a food processor by adding flour, salt and shortening to the bowl. Cover and pulse until it looks like cornmeal. Then add the water through the tube and process. The secret is not to process it too long, just until combined. Remove from bowl and shape into a ball. I still prefer the traditional method, but you can do whatever you prefer.
When making a single crust, after shell is in the plate, prick the bottom and sides of the crust with a fork before baking. This will prevent the crust from bubbling up and becoming uneven.
Pecan Pie, a one crust pie
If you don't like to roll out a basic crust, you can make an oil pastry crust. Use all-purpose flour, sugar and salt and mix it together. Then add canola oil and milk all at once to flour mixture. You do not have to roll this crust. You can just press it into the bottom of your pie plate and up the sides.
Double Crust Pies
When adding a top crust, cut slits to allow steam to escape. Trim top crust and fold under bottom crust. Then pinch the edge of crusts together.
If you prefer, you can make a lattice top crust by rolling out the top crust and then cutting strips that can be woven for a fancy top.
Chocolate No-Bake Crust and Graham Cracker Crust
No-bake Pie Crusts
Graham cracker crust, chocolate cookie crust and vanilla wafer crust are some of the crusts that do not have to be baked. Just melt butter, add crushed cookies or crackers and press into the bottom and sides of the pie plate. Chill and fill.
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