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Homemade Pie Crusts - tricks and tips

 
Posts: 167
Location: Temperate deciduous forest (Massachusetts) - zone 5b - 47" rain/year
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I am guessing I will get an apple for this pie crust recipe once Paul and Jocelyn try it. This is Sara Jo's pie crust, which I've used since I first tried it when Sara Jo was making pies for a nice restaurant on Mackinaw Island in northern Michigan. It may have helped that we went to senior prom together... in 1973.

Remarkably, this includes a few of the tips already posted: vinegar, an egg, and lots of butter. The nice thing is that it mixes together and rolls out easily, and holds together well. That and it is tender and flaky!

This recipe makes two double crusts, or four single crusts, because one pie is never enough.

Stir together:
4 cups flour, 2 Tablespoons sugar, 1 teaspoon salt (less sugar if it's a savory pie)

Cut in 2 cups butter (four sticks, a whole pound) quickly, keep everything cool.

Beat together one large egg and 1 Tablespoon vinegar (cold)

Stir the egg and vinegar into the flour mixture, just enough to form a ball, then divide and roll out.

That's it, no water apart from the liquid in the egg and vinegar. Enjoy!!
 
pollinator
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Location: West Yorkshire, UK
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Emilie McVey wrote:Ok, a couple of questions I have that weren't address in the previous posts..
One, I rendered beef tallow and have used that with success, as far as the flakiness. However, I think  the crust would have been much better with a savory pie than it was with the sweet pie that I made. I cannot use butter, I cannot use soy, I cannot use coconut, and my experience with pork lard was about the same as with tallow: tasty but not for a sweet pie. Does anyone have any more suggestions as for the fat?

Another thing is, I have to use gluten free flour. Which of course involves adding xanthan gum and guar gum, but has anybody used gluten free flour and a fat that would be safe for me and had a tasty crust for a sweet pie result that's not like cardboard? Because I admit, generally my crusts are like cardboard. No flavor and it rips and is just a total disappointment. Again with the lard or tallow, it was a much better crust, but it did not taste good with a sweet pie.



I think the beef tallow/suet taste must be personal preference, because I now make all my pie crusts with it and I just love it.  It does have a little beefy flavor, but I think that's so tasty!  Apple pie with a hint of beef:  yum.  I don't buy commercially made suet any more because they bleach out all that lovely beefy flavor
 
Posts: 51
Location: rural West Virginia
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I never bothered to chill my butter--but maybe it doesn't matter so much because I always use 50/50 whole wheat/white flour. I think it looks and tastes better as well as being more wholesome. But I might try that trick of cutting the butter into smallish pieces, chilling, then grating them; I break it up with a fork which is tedious. The one trick I haven't seen mentioned here is that I use whole wheat PASTRY flour when I remember--that works better for pastry than bread flour.
 
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I've always liked a 50/50 butter & lard blend. Ice cold vinegar or vodka. When I was able to eat wheat, I'd have never dreamed of using an egg (nor would the pastry chefs I baked for), but, now that wheat isn't an option for me, I can't help wondering if that would help with the alternative flours... hmmm...
 
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Location: Henagar, United States
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I use a grater for my butter which is frozen.  Flour and water is ice cold.  Shells are cold before being put into the oven.  Makes for a fine flaky crust.
shells
 
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Here's a prize winning crust recipe that you make RIGHT IN THE PIE PAN.   Seriously, try this.  Also there is no mess!  You don't get a top crust, but instead you get to see and smell the wonderful fruit.
   
For a large pie pan crust, put 1 1/2 C plus 3 Tablespoons of regular white flour and 3/4 tsp salt in the pie pan.  Mix well with a fork.     In a separate measuring cup, emulsify (mix well) exactly 1/2 C Safflower Oil and 3 Tablespoons of water.    Here's the tricky part.  The secret of this crust is to barely moisten the flour and to work it as little as possible for maximum flakiness.    In the center of the pie pan, make a dip and dribble a small bit of oil/water mixture in - while at the same time, stirring with the fork.  Working outward in a spiral, continue dribbling and stirring, always on the dry flour.   Move the barely moistened flour to the center.   When the dough is all moistened, form the crust.  With clean fingers, starting in the middle, push the dough down and towards the edges, leaving the crust about 1/8 inch thick on the bottom of the pan.  Make it slightly thicker at the bend for strength.  Form the sides with your thumbs and flute the top edge.  Voila!     Remember, touch the dough as little as possible because warming and kneading releases gluten which is the opposite of flaky.     Enjoy your pie and compliments.    
   
 
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Location: East Tennessee, zone 7A-ish
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I'm with Jay Angler on this one. I like the insides of a pie; the crust, well, not so much. My favorite pumpkin 'pie' has no crust at all. It's the pumpkin pie filling baked in a casserole dish - we call it pumpkin custard.

My husband does like pie crust, however.

Try replacing the water with something that has flavor (apple cider, lemon juice, broth (reduce salt), dark beer, white wine).
 
master steward
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Merry, I like your recipe so I just might make a pie today to try it out!
 
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Location: Utah
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Somebody asked about whole wheat flour pie dough. I use "white" whole wheat (such as Wheat Montana Prairie Gold). It holds together well for me - though my wife has had issues and prefers unbleached white when she makes pie.
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