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Perfect Pie Crust EVERY Time

Updated on March 8, 2017
merej99 profile image

Freelance creative writer, transcriber, editor, and foodie. I love sharing stories and meeting new folks through online communities,

Lattice top on an apple pie
Lattice top on an apple pie | Source

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The endless search for a good pie crust recipe

I love to bake. I make cakes, muffins, no yeast breads and PIES! I've always taken pride in my pies but always felt a little guilty passing off my "homemade" pies knowing I bought the crust.

I had tried and tried over several years to find various pie crust recipes and they were always disasters. I wasted time and resources and in my frustration always threw out my homemade attempts. Failing time and again I revert to the old faithful frozen crust.

That is - until my aunt shared her pie crust recipe with me!

I am so thrilled with the results that I am compelled to share it with you.

I do not have a mixer or food processor so I use good old-fashioned elbow grease (my hands & a little effort).

Enjoy! And let me know how your pie creations came out. :)

Ingredients

  • 2 1/2 Cups All Purpose Flour, (unbleached is okay too)
  • 1 tsp. Iodized Salt, (table salt)
  • 2 TBSP Sugar
  • 12 TBSP (1 1/2 sticks) Butter, salted or unsalted
  • 1/2 Cup Shortening, (Crisco is recommended)
  • 1/4 Cup Vodka
  • 1/4 Cup Water
  • Extra Flour, for your rolling surface

What you need

What kind of pie are you making?

This recipe makes one covered pie (example: apple or blueberry) or two open pies (example: pumpkin or sweet potato)

How many pie tins do you need?

  • 1 or 2 pie tins
  • 1 large mixing bowl
  • 1 small bowl
  • Slotted spoon
  • Rolling Pin
  • Saran wrap or plastic bags (sandwich or freezer bags are fine)
  • Sharp knife (if you're doing a lattice top)

For Best Results

Do the following:

  • Combine water & vodka and put in the refrigerator or freezer
  • Make sure your Shortening is well chilled

Keep kneading!  It may seem dry but it will work into beautiful dough with some effort.
Keep kneading! It may seem dry but it will work into beautiful dough with some effort.

How am I doing?

You're at step 7 mixing the dough

It is going to appear dry and you're going to start doubting this recipe. Don't!

Keep working it!

Knead, mix, crush, squeeze, break up the butter, keep kneading.

The dry mix will eventually start looking like dough crumble.

All the butter will be well combined into the mix.

Keep Kneading!

It will eventually look like dough.

Instructions - Part 1

Did you read For Best Results?

  1. If you haven't done it already, combine the water & vodka into the small bowl and put in the fridge or freezer.
  2. Put the Crisco in the fridge (do not freeze!)
  3. Cut cold butter into small slices put aside
  4. Once that's done combine the flour, salt & sugar in the large bowl.
  5. With slotted spoon mix the dry ingredients until well combined.
  6. Add butter slices and cold Criso (shortening) to your dry mix
  7. Combine the ingredients using your hands.

Holiday Baking Galore!

Holiday pies!  Clockwise from the lattice top apple pie, pumpkin pie, sweet potato pie, apple crisp, and a banana nut bread for good measure.
Holiday pies! Clockwise from the lattice top apple pie, pumpkin pie, sweet potato pie, apple crisp, and a banana nut bread for good measure. | Source

How am I doing?

At around step 10 you are probably thinking that you don't need any more water & vodka mix.

Don't give up!

Keep going.

It's going to seem really wet but the more you knead the more it combines and reacts to the other ingredients.

Follow the directions. You are doing great!

Instructions - Part II

8. Take your water & vodka mix and pour about 1/3 into your dough batter

9. Knead until well combined.

10. Add another 1/3

11. Knead until well combined.

12. Add the last of the water & vodka mix

13. Keep kneading.

Notes

The video is a great guide but I have and never will cut my lattice pieces using a ruler. Just saying.

I think the inconsistencies give your pie a truly home made look.

If you need to make more pies then simply double up the recipe.

If you are making mini pies then divide the dough into 4 or more balls.

Side bar:

I don't understand WHY pie crust recipes say to roll it to about a 1/4 inch thickness. I refuse to take a ruler to it so here's my general rule:

Roll it out. As you lift the dough to flip it does your hand break through or does it break easily? Then it's too thin. Do over.

If you're flipping it and you can handle it like pizza dough then roll it out some more.

It takes practice so don't give up! If you find you've been messing with the same dough ball for a while, roll it back into a ball and put it in the fridge again.

Instructions - Part III

Once you are satisfied that your dough is well-kneaded divide it into two even balls and wrap in saran wrap or plastic bag.

Flatten the ball into fat disks and refrigerate for at least 45 minutes.

Once cooled the dough is ready to be worked with.

On floured surface knead it slightly to get flexibility back. Sprinkle flour on surface and on dough if it feels tacky and flatten if with your palm - flipping it occasionally.

With rolling pin roll the dough, again, flipping it occasionally until you get the right thickness.

Did you know?

  • The wrapped dough is best kept overnight before being handled but most of us don't plan that far ahead.
  • The wrapped dough will last in the refrigerator for up to three days before it starts to get compromised.
  • If you want to freeze the dough I highly recommend rolling and shaping it out in disposable pie tins, wrap then freeze. You will notice the dough is darker when you thaw it for use.

How to make a lattice top for your pie

Final Comments

You really don't need all the fancy bells and whistles to make a lovely presentation for your pies. Take your time. Enjoy the process and remember that the best ingredient isn't on the list because the BEST ingredient is

love

-- and that's the most important of all.

Share your pie crust recipe experience or if you've tried this one!

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    • Robin profile image

      Robin Edmondson 3 years ago from San Francisco

      I'm definitely going to try this recipe. Thanks for the well written explanation. Making pie dough is very tricky, but there is nothing better!

    • Christy Kirwan profile image

      Christy Kirwan 3 years ago from San Francisco

      Neat recipe, Meredith! I'd never have thought of using vodka to make pie crust. :)

    • PegCole17 profile image

      Peg Cole 3 years ago from Dallas, Texas

      Pie making is an art and so is that first picture of the lattice pie crust. I love making them on top of blueberry pies as well. Thanks for the interesting twist to the ingredients. I would never have thought of using Vodka. Mmm.

    • Paul Edmondson profile image

      Paul Edmondson 3 years ago from Burlingame, CA

      I'll really need to try making crusts with ice cold vodka. The colder the ingredients I use, the better my crust turns out (I typically use frozen butter). I think that if I put vodka and water in the freezer that would even be better. Excellent recipe.

    • merej99 profile image
      Author

      Meredith Loughran 3 years ago from Florida

      Thank you Robin & Christy Kirwan. I've struggled with pie crusts for YEARS. I've tested this one several times with great results and had to share it. Good luck!

    • Hendrika profile image

      Hendrika 3 years ago from Pretoria, South Africa

      I am always very afraid op pie crust. This recipe sounds as if I will be able to do it. Thanks

    • merej99 profile image
      Author

      Meredith Loughran 3 years ago from Florida

      Hendrika - if I can do it so can you! Just follow the tips and you're going to be a pro and a pie hero! :)

    • merej99 profile image
      Author

      Meredith Loughran 3 years ago from Florida

      Thank you for the compliment! That is a picture of a personal pie (aluminum pot pie tins from the grocery store). It's a smaller pie so I cut smaller lattice pieces then folded and rolled the lattice ends for a "rope" look.

    • merej99 profile image
      Author

      Meredith Loughran 3 years ago from Florida

      Paul Edmondson, thank you for the comment and compliment.

      I never thought to put the butter in the freezer but I have a super cold fridge and get a decent workout from the butter. I'm going to have Iron Fists (just like my aunt did - only she used hers for super sonic noogies).

    • Blond Logic profile image

      Mary Wickison 3 years ago from Brazil

      Well that was a surprise on so many levels! Vodka? How did anyone think that one up? It is amazing that it works out. I also was under the impression that handling it as little as possible was the key. I guess I have been listening to the wrong people. All those snobby, self proclaimed 'chefs'. I prefer my things rustic looking and I hate being made to feel inferior if mine doesn't look like artwork. Who has time for all that?

      Great useful hub.

      Finally a sensible look at a pie crust for the real world.

    • merej99 profile image
      Author

      Meredith Loughran 3 years ago from Florida

      Thank you for the comment Blond Logic. VODKA! It was the ingredient that had eluded me for so long!

    • Eiddwen profile image

      Eiddwen 3 years ago from Wales

      Will have to give this one a try to I'll let you know how I get on.

      Voted up.

      Eddy.

    • PurvisBobbi44 profile image

      PurvisBobbi44 3 years ago from Florida

      Hi,

      I am so happy I found this hub to read this morning. You are a special person I know---because you bake like my Grandmother Knight. And, no one can touch her old fashion way of how she cooked and especially baked.

      I voted up++++

      Thanks for making me remember the great moments of being in her kitchen.

      Bobbi Purvis

    • Cre8tor profile image

      Daniel Robbins 3 years ago from Ohio

      YUUUMMMMY!!! See I love pastries and pies and all that but can't bake to save my life...this may just be something I can handle and quit pestering my wife for pies! Voted up and awesome! Thanks for sharing!

    • merej99 profile image
      Author

      Meredith Loughran 3 years ago from Florida

      @PurvisBobbi44 - thank you for the awesome comment, Bobbi. I am humbled. :)

      @Cre8tor - I can't wait to hear how your baking expedition went! Wouldn't your wife be surprised if you presented her with an apple pie or chicken pot pie??? Thanks for commenting and good luck! :)

    • fpherj48 profile image

      Paula 3 years ago from Beautiful Upstate New York

      Meredith.....To be fair, I will admit to you that it is common knowledge here, that I RARELY read recipe hubs...(my precious friends forgive me) (I hope)! Every now and then however, I make an exception. When I retired, I vowed that cooking and baking, in general would now be "bottom-of-the-list" activities. Priorities, you know. LOL

      Believe it or not, a friend of mine just related a "pie crust" story. Her pies are famous and she has shared her crust recipe for years. For some reason, she decided to use a different recipe for her most recent pie and according to her, it was a disaster. Secretly, I'm wondering, "aren't all pie crusts the same?" Not so, I'm told.

      Yours really sounds quite unique and your great hub has convinced me to give it a try. I love the personal touch to your instructions. Please be confident that tempting me to bake is your accomplishment of the week! I will send this on to my friends who bake!! LOL....Excellent Recipe hub! UP!! Shared, tweeted & pinned

    • merej99 profile image
      Author

      Meredith Loughran 3 years ago from Florida

      Thank you, Paula (I hope I got your name right!) :) I cannot even begin to tell you how many FAILS I've had with pie crust! This was a Hail Mary in my book but I haven't screwed it up yet. I will never venture to another crust recipe again.

      Oh! I didn't add this to the hub (yet) - but I had a customer buy a pie and he said his grandmother used to brush MILK on the crust before she baked it. So I made a pie just for him and he raved!!! I admit - I believe the milk made it look golden (I don't know if it affected the taste).

    • fpherj48 profile image

      Paula 3 years ago from Beautiful Upstate New York

      My mother did the milk thing too....for the same reason. :)

    • profile image

      Angela Mobley 2 years ago from Bowling Green, KY

      This is pie crust for dummies. I need this. My pie crusts are worse than beginner. Thank you for being so thorough in your instructions...I just might get better at baking after all...with a little help from my friends...

    • merej99 profile image
      Author

      Meredith Loughran 2 years ago from Florida

      I was a pie crust failure for DECADES until I found the "secret" ingredient. A little vodka for the pie and a little for the cook never hurt anyone - has it? ;)

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