Desserts · Pie

Single Pie Crust

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Flaky? Who, me?

Butter? Shortening? A combination? It seems every pie baker has a strong opinion about pie crust. For me, it’s all about the flaky texture – which means shortening. I flirted for a while with butter & combination crusts, which do win hands down on flavor, but I keep coming back to the flakiness you can only get with shortening. Yes, yes, here’s the part where you say I’m as flaky as my crusts, and you wouldn’t be wrong! 

Many years ago, I happened across a very useful tool for rolling out a shortening-based pie crust. It’s called Perfect-A-Crust, and if you’re interested, you can often find them on eBay. I find it saves a lot of time & effort, producing an evenly rolled, perfectly circular crust every time. I learned the wax paper trick from my mom. Not only does it make cleanup a breeze, but it keeps the crust in one piece while you center it over the pie plate. Shortening crusts do tend to fall apart pretty easily, so the extra help is much appreciated. No worries if you don’t have the Perfect-A-Crust; you can still use the wax paper trick. That’s the more important one, anyway. Just aim for a circle that’s roughly the width of the wax paper, & you’ll do fine. 

Cold is very important when making pie crust, no matter which kind is your favorite. Keep your shortening in the refrigerator, so it’s cold even before you get started. Set up your ice water before you do anything else, so that it will be good & cold by the time you need it. The other trick my mom taught me is freezing the crust in the pie plate while you prepare the filling. This helps keep the bottom crust flaky instead of soggy. Now, back in the day, borosilicate was used for these plates, & it was said they could easily withstand freezer-to-oven temperature shifts. I’ve read that this is no longer recommended, as some of the glass plates have exploded! That’s really dangerous; as much as I love pie, nothing is worth the risk of a glass shard in your eye. Metal is a better choice, just to be on the safe side. Yeah, that’s glass in the pics – one of Mom’s old ones. I still use it for pumpkin, but I’ll make the leap one day. I already use metal plates for all my other pies.

Ingredients:

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1⅓ cups flour

¾ tsp kosher salt

½ cup shortening

2 – 3 Tbsp ice water

Preparation:

1.) Mix flour & salt in a medium bowl with a whisk.

2.) Cut in the shortening with a pastry blender, occasionally scraping down the sides of the bowl and the pastry blender. You’re looking for a consistent texture, NOT a smooth one. See how in the first picture, the edges still look more floury than doughy? Even the color is more consistent in the second pic. It’s still really crumbly – just the way you want it.

3.) Drizzle the ice water in, a Tbsp at a time, tossing with a fork between additions. Use the minimum amount of water to get the dough to stick together. It should still be just a bit crumbly.

4.) To roll out the dough, first tear off two pieces of wax paper, slightly longer than they are wide. Place one on your table. Center the Perfect-A-Crust on it, & heap the crust mixture in the middle.

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Line up the second piece of wax paper with the first. Using your hands, pat down the crust to flatten it a bit. Then use the rolling pin to roll out the dough, working around in every direction to fill in the circle.

Peel the top paper away, then carefully remove the plastic ring. Save any crust that’s stuck to the ring – it works great to patch any tears that might occur as you’re working with the crust.

Now invert the crust (still on that bottom paper) & center it over a 9″ pie plate. Carefully peel off the paper, leaving the crust draped over the plate. Lift up the edges, working your way around the plate, to let the crust sink down into the plate.

Using a knuckle, gently press the crust in place. Fold under the edges.

Using your fingers, flute the crust around. Place the pie plate in the freezer while you make the filling.

Single Pie Crust


Ingredients


1⅓ cups flour
¾ tsp kosher salt
½ cup shortening
2 – 3 Tbsp ice water

Directions


1.) Mix flour & salt in a medium bowl with a whisk.
2.) Cut in the shortening with a pastry blender, occasionally scraping down the sides of the bowl and the pastry blender. You’re looking for a consistent texture, NOT a smooth one.
3.) Drizzle the ice water in, a Tbsp at a time, tossing with a fork between additions. Use the minimum amount of water to get the dough to stick together. It should still be just a bit crumbly.
4.) Roll out the dough between two pieces of wax paper. Peel off the top piece of wax paper, invert the crust over your pie plate, and peel off the second piece.
5.) Using a knuckle, gently press the crust in place. Fold under the edges. Using your fingers, flute the crust around. Place the pie plate in the freezer while you make the filling.

2 thoughts on “Single Pie Crust

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