Even though this blog is called Love, Joy Peace of Cake, (because I adore cake) pie comes in next as one of my favorite desserts. It just seems so cozy and comfy! It just seems like something you have to sit down and relax with, not something you can really eat on the run. For me, pie says home! Not my home growing up, (my mom never made a pie in her life, but she was the queen of lasagna)! On the other hand, I have been making pies, for what seems like forever.
My early pies were pretty okay, but it has taken me about 40 years to perfect, what I think is, the perfect crust. Now I’m sure there are other great pie crusts out there, but if you’re looking for THE flakiest crust in the history of flake, this is it. Honestly! Just look at it: (I said, “Look at it!”)
It doesn’t just look good, it tastes buttery and tender and it will not be left on the plate, as most crusts are when the pie is gone! Just follow the recipe below and you, too, can be flaky! I must warn you, gird your loins, as this post is rather long! But because pie crusts can be temperamental, I’ve included lots of details and pictures.
Please note: this recipe is for the crust only, good for most pie fillings, especially fruit.
Another extremely important note: All ingredients must start out cold and stay cold! This is definitely not one of those times in baking where you want everything room temperature, or you will end up with a big, gooey, melted mess! The cold, hard bits of butter are what produces the flake!
Here’s how it looks along the way, more pictures to follow after the list of ingredients.
The photo above shows the flour, salt, and cut up cold butter in the large bowl, and I’m measuring my chilled shortening. (A great easy way to do this, is line your measuring cup with a piece of plastic wrap, add shortening, then just lift it all out of the cup and the shortening comes right off the wrap, into your bowl, and no mess)!
As with all recipes, please read through the entire recipe first, get all your ingredients and tools ready, and then proceed with joy in your heart!
So at least an hour, or more, before you start, make sure your butter is nice and cold and refrigerate your shortening, taking them out just before you use them.
Flaky Flaky Pie Crust (for a 2 crust pie)
2 1/4 cups bleached flour (bleached flour helps to stop chewy, tough gluten from forming)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup butter flavored shortening, chilled
6 Tablespoons butter
1/4 cup–1/2 cup ice cold water
2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar (I know that sounds weird, but it makes the crust extra flaky and does not taste of vinegar at all!)
Put your flour into a large bowl. Cut up the butter into about 6 pieces, add it to the bowl, along with your chilled shortening, cutting it in. (That simply means, making the bits of butter and shortening smaller with either a fork or a pastry cutter–pictured).
Then, your dough should look like this:
Add the 2 teaspoons of vinegar to the 1/4 cup ice water and add this mixture to the flour butter mixture about 1 Tablespoon at a time, mixing it in and adding more as needed (I usually use about 1/2 cup water total), just until it all holds together:
Now you’re ready to turn it out onto a very lightly floured board (I like to use a marble board because it keeps everything cold, but if you don’t have one, it’s okay) and just kind of knead it a tiny bit, just until it is all together like this:
You want those bits of butter, so try not to work it too much, or the heat from your hands will melt those lovely bits and will make your dough tough.
At this stage, cut your dough in half, form into disc shape (one for lower and one for upper crust) and wrap in plastic wrap. Chill at least 30 minutes. Wrapped tightly in plastic wrap and then a plastic zippered bag, dough can be frozen at this point, if using at a later date.
After the 30 minute chilling, put your dough onto a lightly floured board, one disc at a time, to roll out (leaving other disc in refrigerator). With a floured or cloth covered rolling pin, roll out the disc, rolling from the middle, until about 1/8″ thick, trying not to stretch the dough:
Now you’re ready to gently place your dough in your pie pan. If you’re making a one crust pie, cut edge to trim excess. (Snowman optional)
Cover with plastic wrap and chill for another 30 minutes. If you are making a double crust pie (top and bottom crust), you should prepare the filling at this point.
TIP: Don’t put your filling in the bottom crust until you have rolled out the top crust. Nobody wants a soggy bottom!
After the 30 minute chilling session, your pie crust is ready to bake or fill. To bake for creamy type fillings, such as lemon meringue, chocolate cream, etc. line your dough in the pan with foil or parchment paper, fill with pie weights (can be purchased or I use dried beans or raw rice)which keeps it from getting all puffed up, and bake for 10 minutes or so at 400 degrees.
To use for a double crust fruit pie, (I used apple) as pictured at the top of this post, after this second 30-minute chilling, put in your already prepared fruit filling evenly into your dough lined pan and cover with top crust. Trim the edges and seal: I put my fingertips in a little bit of water, touching the bottom crust and pressing down the top crust on it to seal the edges, so no filling leaks out. You can also, if desired crimp the edges decoratively.
Now I like to make the upper crust (not of society!) nice and pretty. I just brush the top of the pie with a little milk and sprinkle on some sugar (about 1 Tablespoon). You could also brush it with a little beaten egg, for a shiny brown top.
IMPORTANT!: Cut a few slits in the top crust to allow steam to escape, otherwise it could be PIE_OCALYPSE in your oven….kaboom!
For an apple pie: Bake in a preheated oven at 400 degrees for 15 minutes, then lower the temperature to 350 and bake at least 45 minutes until fruit is tender and crust is nicely browned and juices are bubbly.
Helpful Hint: When your pie is about halfway through the cooking time, make sure the edges of the crust are not getting too brown. If they are, cover edges with foil or see picture below (cut out the middle of an aluminum (cheap!) pie pan, making a ring, and it will cover just the edges nicely and can be re-used)!
Let cool completely for filling to set, or before you add your creamy filling.
Be proud of your pie! If I can do it, you, too, can pie!