In honor of 3/14, I’m going to talk about one of my favorite subjects in the world: pie.
(Image via Serious Eats)
I started baking early in life. At six I was baking cookies regularly – with adult supervision, of course – and at seven I made my first pie crust.
My mother nearly cried.
It was perfect.
Pie crust was my mother’s Achilles’ heel in the kitchen, the one thing that never came out quite like she wanted it to. And her seven year old daughter turned out to be an idiot savant of crust.
Once Mom accepted that I had a talent she didn’t, though, she was more than happy to exploit it. It became my job on Thanksgiving to make the crusts for the pumpkin pies.
Over the years, many people have asked me for my secrets. For years I didn’t know what to say. I didn’t know why I couldn’t turn out bad pie crust on a bet. All I knew was that every single time, my crusts turned out delicious, golden, and flaky.
Still, I did eventually come up with a short list of tips that seem to help others. And now I pass it on to you, in hopes that those who struggle with pie crust can find peace, enlightenment, and flakiness.
1: Always work with cold ingredients. I put my flour in the fridge for a half hour or so before getting started, and I never take my butter out of the fridge until I’m ready to dice it up and cut it into the dry ingredients.
2: Always work quickly. Once you have your ingredients going, get it done quickly. Don’t worry about perfect, pea sized pieces of butter. Get the gist of it, and stop working. Nothing toughens a pie crust like overworking the dough.
3: Let the dough rest. Once you’ve got your dough roughly put together, wrap it in plastic wrap and put it in the fridge for half an hour or so. I don’t know the science behind it, but doing this means your pie crust won’t shrink as much in baking.
4: There is no shame in frozen pie crust. Look, even the most amazing cook (like good old Mom who was an astonishing wiz in the kitchen) is going to find something (s)he just plain isn’t good at. If you try all these tips and it still doesn’t work for you, maybe you just weren’t meant to be a great pie crust maker. So bite the bullet, get the Pillsbury ones, or invite me over to make your crust for you.
And if all else fails, just go to Pie Knits and learn how to make your pie another way. I like the blueberry!