I did a cooking show before cooking shows were cool. You didn’t see it? You would have had to get up by 5:30 Saturday morning to watch me. I never quite made it to prime time.
As part of my job as a county extension agent in Johnson county, I was asked to do a short cooking demonstration on Channel 5. Making the perfect pie crust was my subject.
I practiced many times before that showing, perfecting my technique and my recipe. The same recipe is still the easiest, flakiest and most reliable crust recipe I have. Nothing fancy or difficult. See recipe below and follow along with the pictures below.
- 3 cups all purpose flour
- 1 cup shortening (i.e. Crisco)
- 6-9 tablespoons ice cold water
- Pinch salt
- 2¾ cups flour
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ⅓ cup cold butter
- ⅔ cup ice cold shortening
- 6-8 tablespoons ice water
- Use fork, pastry cutter or food processor to cut fat into flour.
- Flour/fat mixture should be very coarse with some pieces looking like small peas and other pieces resembling thick cut oatmeal
- Sprinkle ice cold water over flour mixture and start to compress into a ball. Only use as much water as necessary to make a shaggy ball.
- Use a pastry cloth or plain weave tea towel (not terry cloth).
- Sprinkle flour over cloth and work in with your fingers. I also use a special sock on my rolling pin that comes with the pastry cloth. Work flour into it also.
- Dump crumbly dough onto floured cloth.
- Put your hands underneath the cloth and use the cloth to press the dough together.
- It should look like this. If dough will not come together, Sprinkle a few drops of water over dough until it will stick together. If dough is too sticky at this point, put more flour on the cloth--not the dough.
- Use rolling pin to roll out dough, making strokes starting at the center and going outward at different angles in opposite directions like you are going around a clock. Strive to keep your circle symmetric.
- Every little bit, lift up the dough. If it sticks, sprinkle a little more flour on the cloth, not the dough. Do you see a pattern here? Many people end up with so much flour on the dough that the result is dry and tough. Not good!
- When you are satisfied your crust is large enough and thin enough, place empty pie plate upside down on top of dough.
- Carefully, scoot your hand underneath the pastry cloth and flip the whole mess upside down.
- The tea towel will end up on top.
- Peel the towel off of the crust. It may stick in a few places. Use a knife to carefully free the dough from the cloth.
- Trim crust with cooking scissors or a knife leaving about ⅓-1/2 inch overhang.
- Fold overhanging dough up under the edge to make it even with the side of the pie plate.
- Make a decorative border.
- Place finished piecrust in the freezer for at least 30 minutes.
- Take a long sheet (about 40 inches) of parchment paper and twist it. Coil the twisted paper to fit inside your unbaked frozen pie shell. No need to stab the crust repeatedly with a fork unless you need therapy for a bad day.
- Bake in a preheated oven at 375 degrees F for 25-30 minutes. Remove parchment paper but don't throw it away. It's reusable.
- Use a knife or toothpick to carefully puncture any bubbles (making the smallest incision possible) to let the hot air out and gently press the dough back down against dish. If your pie crust shrinks down into the pan, more than likely you stretched it while rolling out or you neglected to freeze the crust ahead of time.