Making Pie Crusts

 

Have you ever wondered how bakeries make those amazingly fluffy pie crusts? Start out with these tips, and you'll be on your way to the same awesome results.

Pie crust ingredients:

  • All-purpose flour is great for pastry dough. Cake flour is too soft for pastries, and flours with more gluten will make your dough tough.
  • Chill all your ingredients before combining them—even the flour.
  • Make sure the water you use is ice cold. Put ice cubes in it, and then strain them out before you add the water to the rest of the ingredients.
  • Add a teaspoon of vinegar into the cold water used to make the dough. (You can also use heavy cream instead of water, but don't add vinegar if you're using cream!)
  • Use shortening or lard instead of butter. Shortening will melt slower and leave more air pockets when your pie is baking. If you want the buttery flavor and the great texture, use half butter and half shortening.
  • A little sugar in your dough will make it tender (and sweet!), but you probably don't want to use it when making a savory pie.

Making the dough:

  • Handle your dough as little as possible. If you mess with it too much, it will become very dense.
  • Your dough should have some pea-sized pieces of fat in it.
  • After your dough is ready, refrigerate it for about 30 minutes. If it cracks when you try to roll it out, let it warm up a bit. If it still seems too dry, add water little by little until you can roll it out.

Prep your crust:

  • Roll out your dough on a large piece of wax paper or parchment paper (lightly flour the parchment paper if your dough is extra sticky). This way it won't stick to the counter, and it will be easy to transfer to your pie tin.
  • You can also cover the top of the dough with wax paper or parchment paper or wrap your rolling pin in a (new & clean) knee-high nylon stocking to stop it from sticking to the dough as you roll it out.
  • Don't stretch or pull your dough after you've rolled it. If you do, the crust will likely shrink, disappearing around the edges when your pie bakes.
  • Trim the edges with a pizza cutter or clean kitchen shears a little bit bigger than your pie tin or dish. If you are making a two-crust pie, leave enough extra on the bottom to fold over the top crust after the pie is filled.

At this point, you will bake the crust by itself if your pie will have an uncooked filling (like a banana cream pie).

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