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Pie Crusts - basic shells

Updated on June 7, 2010

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

Oil Pastry

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.

Lattice-top Crust

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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    • judydianne profile image

      judydianne 6 years ago from Palm Harbor, FL

      Thanks, Teresa,

      I agree with you. There is nothing better.

      I just found a new crust made with Grape-Nuts.

      It sounds yummy with a fruit filling.

    • eventsyoudesign profile image

      eventsyoudesign 6 years ago from Nashville, Tennessee

      Good hub. There is nothing like a buttery flaky pastry crust. This makes me hungry. Thanks for sharing. Teresa

    • judydianne profile image

      judydianne 7 years ago from Palm Harbor, FL

      Thank you Holle. I just wanted to put in a recipe, but not yet! I'll save recipes for recipe day!

    • habee profile image

      Holle Abee 7 years ago from Georgia

      Beautiful hub and great tips!

    • judydianne profile image

      judydianne 7 years ago from Palm Harbor, FL

      Audrey, good luck. I don't even like to use Crisco anymore. It just sticks to everything and I can just imagine what it does to your body.

      Sandy, I always think I'll just buy Pillsbury ready made and then I talk myself out of it and make my own. It's really pretty easy.

      Creativeone, good to hear from you again. Thank you for the comment.

    • creativeone59 profile image

      benny Faye Douglass 7 years ago from Gold Canyon, Arizona

      Thank you judydianne,for great pie crust hub, thank your for sharing. creativeone59

    • Sandyspider profile image

      Sandy Mertens 7 years ago from Wisconsin, USA

      I use to make my own pie crust. They really are pretty easy to do and so much cheaper than pre-made.

    • akirchner profile image

      Audrey Kirchner 7 years ago from Washington

      I have to bookmark this as that is my downfall - I can make a great crust but the only one that works is my lard one. I so want to get another crust in my toolbox that isn't made with lard - and maybe with these tips I can do it right!