When you think of homemaking, what is the first image that pops into your mind? Is it baby toys surrounding an exhausted mom wearing sweatpants with Cheerios stuck in her hair? Or is it a 1950’s housewife donning pearls, heels, perfect red lips and a dress, pulling a pie out of the oven? Maybe it’s somewhere in between. I know it isn’t always reality, but I like to strive for the latter. Especially if that means pie crust is involved!
I have a treat for you. Today I am going to show you how to make the easiest, most delicious piecrust from scratch. This recipe is simple, unfussy, and the perfect base for many kitchen creations. In fact, I have made this exact recipe over 100 times, and it is always perfection. So put an apron on over those sweats and grab your rolling pin. We have piecrust to make!
First, let’s gather our ingredients:
3 Cups unbleached white flour
1 tsp. Sugar
1 tsp. Real Salt
½ Cup Lard (Check with your butcher)
½ Cup Butter, cut into tablespoon sized pieces
1 Tbs. White Vinegar
1/3 Cup Ice Water
Note: This recipe makes enough for a 9” double pie crust with a bit extra to decorate. If you only want a single crust, cut the recipe in half and omit the egg. Add extra water 1 tsp. at a time if needed.
So remember how I said this recipe was easy? Well my secret kitchen tool for whipping up piecrust is the food processor. You can also make crust with a pastry cutter, or a fork and some arm muscle, but the food processor is hands down the way to go. It quickly mixes the dough without working it too much so it remains cold. I use my processor all the time. It is an excellent addition to my kitchen.
Start by adding the flour, sugar and salt to the food processor bowl. Give it a quick pulse to combine.
Next add the lard and butter. Pulse until it looks like fine meal. For those of you who are uneasy about lard, let me assure you that you cannot taste it, but it is superior for creating a flaky crust. I actually keep an ice cream pail full of lard in my fridge for daily use in cooking and baking. (I am a bit obsessed with lard, and have a few pigs worth of the stuff in my deep freeze!) The butter adds flavor, but melts more quickly, so both fats are needed for a crust with unbeatable texture and taste!
Now we add the egg, vinegar and water. Combine just until the dough starts to form into a ball in the processor. Once you have a ball of dough, carefully take it out of the processor and separate into two disks. Wrap them in plastic and place in the fridge to cool.
Note: Piecrust gets its amazing flaky goodness when the cold fat heats in the oven, creating air pockets and layers in the crust. If the dough is not really cold when it goes in the oven, the result will be dense, tough piecrust. Keep the dough cold until ready to use.
Now comes the fun part. Flour a pastry board or counter. I use this pastry board and rolling pin from Bethany Housewares. They are located in my hometown and have a great offering of baking supplies. Unwrap one disk of dough and leave the other in the fridge. Place the disk of dough on your floured surface and begin to roll it out.
Work from the middle of your circle out, and aim for an even thickness. I like to roll the dough out to about a 14-inch circle so I have plenty of extra dough to work with.
Using the rolling pin, wrap the sheet of dough around the pin starting on one end and roll it up. This makes is easier to transfer to the pie plate. These glass Pyrex plates are my favorite.
Unroll your dough on top of the plate and adjust for center. Then, carefully fold the dough back towards the middle of the pan until there is just a slight overhang around the edge.
Press the dough together using your thumb on the outside and your pointer and middle finger on the inside of the edge. Your thumb goes between your fingers to create a fluted design.
Note: If you are adding a braid, rope or other decorative trim and don’t want a large fluted edge, simply use a knife to cut the excess dough around the edge instead of folding the dough. Also, if you are adding a full top crust, wait to flute the edges until both bottom and top crusts are together.
Add your fillings and repeat the process of rolling out the top crust. I love the creativity allowed in designing pies and usually opt to craft a decorative top. Lattice with braids, herringbone pattern, roses, or a free form design are all favorites. Try using a small cookie cutter to cut shapes for the top. You are only limited by your imagination!
Once the top is finished, brush with an egg wash. Egg wash is simply an egg beaten with a little water. Use a pastry brush to lightly coat the top. For added sparkle, sprinkle the top with raw sugar. The fun doesn’t stop with fruit pies. Use this simple recipe to make quiche, hand pies or empanadas. Sprinkle with cinnamon sugar and cut into crackers for dip. Add Parmesan or cheddar cheese and herbs to the processor and cut into savory crackers. It is a hard working recipe that holds a warm place in my heart.
What is your favorite way to eat pie crust? Let me know in the comments below!