Recipe: Perfect Pie Crusts

MF Perfect Pie Crust The key to a perfect pie is a flakey, buttery crust that crisps in the oven and then melts in your mouth. Please, forego the pre-made crusts in the grocery store and make your own this Thanksgiving. If you've never attempted a homemade pie crust before, have no fear. You can do this. I'm here for you. It's easier than you think, especially if you have a few simple tools: food processor, gallon-sized zippered bag, spray bottle, pizza cutter, and tin foil. If you don't have a food processor, a pastry cutter will work, you'll just need to use a little more elbow grease. Are you ready to get started? Perfect Pie Crust adapted from Good Eats 6 tablespoons butter, cut into small cubes 2 tablespoons lard (or shortening, but try to find lard) 1 cup flour 1 teaspoon salt 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon (optional, but recommended for fruit or nut-based pies) ice water in a spray bottle tin foil, cut into long strips about 3-inches wide parchment paper (for pudding, cream, or meringue pies) dry beans (for pudding, cream, or meringue pies) NOTE: This recipe is for one crust. If you need a top crust, you'll need to double it and divide it in half. Directions Chill butter and lard in the freezer for at least 15 minutes.

In a food processor, combine flour and salt by pulsing 3 to 4 times. Add butter and pulse 5 to 6 times until texture looks mealy. Add lard and pulse another 3 to 4 times. Remove lid of food processor and spritz surface of mixture thoroughly with water. Replace lid and pulse 5 times. Add more water and pulse again until mixture holds together when squeezed. Place mixture in large zip-top bag, squeeze together until it forms a ball, and then press into a rounded disk and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.

Remove dough from refrigerator. Cut along 2 sides of the plastic bag, open bag to expose dough, and sprinkle both sides with flour. Cover again with plastic and roll out with a rolling pin to a 10 to 11-inch circle. Open plastic again and sprinkle top of dough with flour. Remove pie pans from refrigerator and set first pan on top of dough. Turn everything upside down and peel plastic from bottom of dough. Place second pan upside down on top of dough and flip again. Remove first pan from atop dough. Trim edges if necessary and scallop the edges with your fingertips.

FOR FILLED PIES WITH A TOP CRUST: Roll out top crust in a separate plastic bag. Using a pizza cutter, cut dough into even strips, a half-inch to an inch wide. Create a lattice pattern on top of the filled, uncooked pie crust. Join the edges of the dough and create a scalloped edge with your fingertips. Brush top crust and all edges with a simple egg wash (1 egg whisked with 1 teaspoon water or cream—this is what gives it a shiny golden luster) and bake for 15 minutes at 425 degrees. Remove from oven and lower temperature to 325 degrees. Loosely attach tin foil strips to the outer edge of crust to keep it from burning. Return to the oven and bake for an additional 30 minutes. Allow to cool completely before serving.

FOR PUDDING, CREAM, OR MERINGUE PIES: Place a large piece of parchment paper on top of dough and fill with dry uncooked beans. Press beans into edges of dough and bake in the oven for 10 minutes. Remove parchment and beans and continue baking until golden in color, approximately 10 to 15 minutes longer. Remove from oven and place on cooling rack. Let cool completely before filling.

Alton Brown gives a great video tutorial that will help any pie crust novice gain some confidence. Check it out!
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