Let’s Bake A Pie

Let’s Bake A Pie

Tips for baking a homemade pie.

The thought of baking a pie can send some people into a complete shutdown.  No way is a common response.  I will pick one up at the store is another.  Some more adventurous will say sure, I’ll bake a pie but then will immediately grab a frozen pie crust at the supermarket and a few cans of pie filling.  That’s a bit better, but not much.

Pies are one dessert item that taste so much better when completely homemade than anything you can buy frozen or at a grocery store.  Most frozen pie crusts have little or no fat content, they rely on preservatives to keep from drying out.  The difference between a homemade crust and a frozen crust is enormous, the flakiness and richness of a homemade crust can make you weep.  A frozen crust can make you cry also, but for the wrong reason.

Let’s Talk Pie Crust

Our grandmothers, and probably our mothers, made pies all of the time.  They were a perfect dessert that used items that were readily available on most farms.  Flour, fruit and lard.  Yes, lard.  Before you recoil in horror, you need to know a few things about lard.  It is high in monounsaturated fat, which is considered the healthier fat for heart health.  It contains no trans fats if bought fresh.

How to make a pie crust.

This doesn’t mean it’s a health food.  It is fat.  Like all fats, the less you eat the better.  However, most of us can eat moderate amounts of fat in our diets and choosing the right fat for the right foods can add some wonderful flavor.  Hence, lard in pie crust.

Lard, used with butter in most pie crust recipes, will give the crust an exceptional rich taste, plus a flaky texture that can’t be found in frozen products.  Obviously we don’t recommend eating lard, or any heavy fat, every day but as a treat it can’t be beat in a good pie crust.

Pie Crust Recipe With Lard

This is probably pretty close to the recipe your grandmother used every time she made a pie.  Check out church cookbooks from the 1930s and 1940s.  Crisco hadn’t done a lot of marketing yet slamming lard while praising it’s vegetable shortening so every pie crust recipe called for lard.

Ingredients

    • 2 1/2 cups unbleached all purpose flour
    • 1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
    • 1 teaspoon salt
    • 1/2 cup (1 stick) chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
    • 1/2 cup chilled lard
    • 5 tablespoons (or more) ice water

Preparation

    1. Blend flour, sugar, and salt in processor. Add butter and lard; using on/off turns, blend until mixture resembles coarse meal. Transfer mixture to medium bowl. Add 5 tablespoons ice water and mix with a fork or a dough knife until dough begins to clump together, adding more water by teaspoonfuls if dry. Gather dough together. Divide dough in half; flatten each half into disk. Wrap each disk in plastic and refrigerate at least 1 hour. DO AHEAD Can be made 3 days ahead. Keep refrigerated. If necessary, soften slightly at room temperature before rolling out.

Pie Crust Recipe With Shortening

Shortening is any fat that is solid at room temperature.  It’s main uses are for crumbly pastries and pie crusts although some bakers will use it for cookies and bars.  Most commonly it is associated with the brand name Crisco and is made from a vegetable oil base.  As it uses hydrogenated oil it usually doesn’t require any refrigeration.

Ingredients

SINGLE CRUST
  • 1 1/3 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup shortening
  • 3 to 6 tablespoons ice cold water

Directions

Blend together flour and salt in large bowl. Cut shortening into flour mixture using pastry blender or fork. Stir in just enough water with fork until dough holds together.

Shape dough into a ball for single pie crust. Flatten ball into 1/2-inch thick round disk.

Roll dough from center outward into a circle 2-inches wider than pie plate on lightly floured surface for the bottom crust. Transfer dough to pie plate.

If making a single pie crust, trim edges of dough leaving a 3/4-inch overhang. Fold the edge under. Flute dough as desired. Bake according to specific recipe directions.

For a DOUBLE pie crust, roll disk for bottom crust, trimming edges of dough even with outer edge of pie plate. Fill unbaked pie crust according to recipe directions. Roll out remaining dough disk. Transfer dough carefully onto filled pie. Trim edges of dough leaving a 3/4-inch overhang. Fold top edge under bottom crust. Press edges together to seal and flute as desired. Cut slits in top crust or prick with fork to vent steam. Bake according to specific recipe directions.

There you are, two fabulous options for making delicious homemade pie crusts that are sure to amaze your friends and family.  Be sure to use a heavy glass or ceramic pie plate for baking.  Avoid at all costs the lightweight (and inexpensive) pie tins, they don’t distribute heat well and will fall apart quite easily when you remove the pie from the oven.