Vivian is a homemaker, blogger, and modern-day June Cleaver.
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Just Like Grandma
Grandma's pies were always the best in town. Maybe she's gone now, or perhaps she's ready to pass the baking torch to you. Why can't your crusts come together as effortlessly as hers did? In a couple magical swoops, her double crust pies even created enough leftover dough for cinnamon wheels. Remember those? You, on the other hand, struggle to cover the bottom of the pie pan with the first crust, and trying to stretch the top crust over the fruit filling defies the law of physics. The secret to great crust lies in the ingredient ratios. Modern cookbooks, to cut fat from our diets, list less Crisco shortening than cookbooks from the earlier 20th century. Typically, double pie crust recipes call for two cups of flour and two-thirds or three-fourths cup of shortening, compared to older recipes with a two-to-one ratio (i.e. two cups of flour and one cup of shortening). Newer versions frequently limit water to five tablespoons too, when six tablespoons make all the difference. The combination of extra shortening and extra water will create dough that is far more manageable--it will roll out smoothly without crumbling and create plenty to cover your pie. Not only will this afford you the extra edge for fluting, thumb printing, roping, or forking, you will also have excess dough for cinnamon wheels!
|Prep time||Cook time||Ready in||Yields|
one 9" double crust pie
- 2 cups flour
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup Crisco Shortening
- 6 tablespoons cold water
- In a mixing bowl, stir together flour and salt with a fork. Cut in shortening with a pastry blender until pieces are the size of small peas. Sprinkle one tablespoon of water at a time, lightly tossing dough with a fork after each addition (be sure not to over-handle dough). Divide dough in half and form into balls.
- On a moistened countertop surface, lay a sheet of wax paper. Flour wax paper and flatten one ball of dough with hands. Roll dough from center to edges, forming a large circle (this must be done quickly while surface is damp, or your wax paper will start to move). Lift wax paper, and gently lay crust across 9-inch pie plate, slowly pulling off the wax paper as crust releases. Trim pastry even with rim of plate. Add desired pie filling.
- For top crust, roll remaining dough. Cut slits for steam to escape, or use decorative cut outs for a fancier crust. Place top crust on filling. Trim crust 1/2 inch beyond edge of plate. Fold top crust under, and flute edge. If using decorative crust cutters, place shapes on top of crust and sprinkle sugar across the entire top crust. Bake as directed for your recipe.
Mini Cookie Cutters Are a Must-Have for Pie Bakers
Many cookbooks advise to roll your crust onto a floured surface, and then wrap the pastry around the rolling pin to place into your pie plate. That technique might work for a Jedi Master Baker, but using wax paper is far easier for the general population. The trick is dampening your countertop, laying the wax paper onto the moistened surface and flouring it, and then rolling your dough quickly before your surface dries and the paper shifts.
While some bakers prefer blending their crust with two forks, a pastry blender does the job quicker. A key to tender crust is not over-handling your dough. The more you handle it, the tougher it will get. A pastry blender is very efficient.
Are your fresh fruit pies runny? Depending on the fruit you use, most cookbooks recommend one tablespoon to 1/4 cup of flour to thicken the juices. If you still produce runny pies, add dry tapioca. It will fix the problem and not affect the flavor. Don't over-do it. When you stir together the flour, fruit, sugar, and spices, add between one to three tablespoons of tapioca, and your problem will be solved. Don't be in a rush to cut your pie. Let it cool completely.
This Strong Pastry Blender Will Make All the Difference in Your Crust
How DID Grandma make those yummy little wheels anyway? Form a small ball with your leftover crust (before it dries) and roll it as far as it will go. Spread butter over the entire surface. No measuring needed, just lather it on there! Spoon sugar over the butter--the more, the better. Sprinkle cinnamon on top of the sugar in abundance too. (Hey, if you're making a pie, how concerned are you with fat and calories anyway?). From the short end, roll into a log and seal ends. Slice and place face up on a small cookie sheet covered with foil or parchment paper and bake in the oven with your pie. Keep a close eye on them--they only take a fraction of time to bake, maybe 15 minutes or so, and will burn quickly. You'll be a chip off the old Granny in no time. Practice makes perfect!
Fruit Pie Favorites
peachy from Home Sweet Home on August 06, 2014:
wow, pie that looks gorgeous. Your grandma secret recipe?
Vivian Coblentz (author) on August 05, 2014:
I've never tried butter-flavored Crisco. It sounds good though, as long as the taste complements your filling rather than overwhelming it. I might have to try that sometime! Good suggestion!
Lori Phillips from Southern California USA on August 05, 2014:
I love the idea of cinnamon wheels! They'd be great on the side of a bowl of ice cream. And thanks for the tips! What do you think about using the butter-flavored Crisco shortening?