Yeah! Alright, let's get started on this VERY SPECIAL edition of Maid Simple. Special because I've only shared this recipe with one other person until now.
Here's a two-step plan that will make sure you always have delicious, flaky, old fashioned, fool-proof, HOMEMADE pie crust at your finger tips for when you want to throw together a pie, tart, or other dessert that requires a pastry crust.
Seriously. This is really easy. Not fake-easy like a lot of those cook books *cough*pieandpastrybible*cough*.
Step One: Make It!
This is my grandmother's recipe for pie crust, handed down through generations. I learned this recipe when I was knee high to a grasshopper, and if a child can put this together, then certainly you can, too. True, you don't have my grandmother's sage advice and steady hands guiding you every step of the way, but the recipe is so simple it practically makes itself.
I'm giving you two recipes, one for a double crust (for apple, peach, and cherry pies) and one for a single crust (for pumpkin and cream pies as well as tarts when you only need a bottom crust).
Double Pie Crust:
2 cups flour
1 tsp salt
3/4 cup crisco or unsalted butter (crisco makes it flakier, but isn't exactly good for you. I use butter.)
4 tbs water
Single Pie Crust:
1 1/3 cups flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup crisco or unsalted butter
3 tbs water
Now, put it together. Put the flour and salt in a large bowl. Cut the butter into tablespoon-sized pieces (you know, like where the tablespoon markings are on the paper) and dump those in the bowl as well. Using a fork or a pastry blender, cut in the butter. Photo below shows a pastry blender, which I prefer, but for years I used a fork with no problems.
Continue cutting in the butter until the mixture looks pebbled, like this:
Now, you could keep going and finish making the crust for your pie OR you could skip right to Step Two if you're a think-ahead kind of gal. Let's continue.
Now add the water to your mixture, and using your fork or blender, work the mixture until it begins to form a dough. At this point it may be helpful to just use your hands a little to form the dough. Just remember, as with any pastry dough, don't work it too much or you'll have dense, dry crust instead of light, buttery crust.
Flour your work surface well, and roll out your dough. If you used the double recipe, be sure to split the dough in half before rolling.
This is where my grandmother would drape one of her mother's aprons around you and tie it tight. Then she'd stand behind you and show you how to put the stockinette on the rolling pin and flour it. She'd show you the appropriate rolling technique to use with a ball bearing pin, how to rotate the dough and lift it up periodically to make sure it's not sticking to the surface. She'd test the uniformity of the thickness by swiping her palm across the dough, then she'd show you how to carefully pick it up and transfer it to the waiting, buttered pie plate. *sigh*
You could also try this no muss, no fuss way to do it. No flouring needed.
So that's Step One of making sure you always have homemade pie crust when you need it; a reliable recipe.
Step Two: Jar It!
If you sometimes get called on to whip up a dessert for a dinner party, work event, picnic, or birthday and you're short on time (duh, who isn't?) then you're going to want to skip right to rolling out the dough, filling the pie and baking it. Here's how you get to skip all that cutting-in nonsense for a last-minute pie.
Whenever you have a spare 10 minutes or while you're watching your weekly Monday night Golden Girls marathon, cut in a batch or two of pie crust, but STOP THERE. Don't add the water. Just cut in the butter and pour the mixture into a refrigerator-friendly storage jar. Keeps for months! Then when you get a phone call that "Tomorrow is a teacher appreciation luncheon and can you please make that delicious key lime pie that you made last year?" you'll be able to grab your refrigerated mixture, add the water, roll it out and bake it up in no time!
The awesome thing about knowing how to make your own pie crust is that the uses for it don't stop at pies. You could make pumpkin pie bites for a Girl Scout meeting, apple pie roll-ups for your kid's school-birthday snack, or chicken pot pie for dinner. The uses for homemade pie crust are endless.