I know folks that fearlessly smoke their own meats, render duck and chicken fat, and style Instagram-worthy plates, but completely plotz when it comes to making a homemade pie.
Pie crust is the tipping point for many home cooks, but there’s no need to fear. Making a crust isn’t difficult—it just requires a few simple ingredients and a little cooking know-how. Here are the basics you need to create the perfect pie crust every time.
All crusts need three basic ingredients: flour, fat, and liquid. But I like to add a couple more to the mix to give my pies strength, texture, and flavor.
Flour: Flour is needed for strength, structure, and elasticity. It's the binder that holds the other ingredients together. For pie crusts, use all-purpose flour.
Fat: You can use butter, vegetable shortening, or even olive oil in pie crust. Butter provides the most flavor and a wonderful melting quality in the mouth, but often doesn’t make the most tender pastry.
Liquid: The liquid in a pie crust creates steam that lifts the pastry and makes it flaky. It also gets absorbed into the flour, to create gluten.
Salt: Salt boosts flavor without making the crust taste salty.
Sugar: Sugar makes pie dough tender and easier to roll out. It also inhibits gluten formation.
Egg: Eggs are the secret to making a great crust. Not only do they make the dough more pliable and easy to roll out, they also make the crust more compact and extremely flaky.
Here are three basic pie crust recipes you can use to make nearly any pie- fruit filled, custard or meat filled.
Now that you know the ingredients and method, use your new-found skills to make these classic dessert pies.
Hand pies will work with all doughs provided. Roll out dough as instructed.
Round hand pies: cut 20 dough circles with a cookie cutter. Place 10 circles on countertop or cutting board and fill with pie filling. Cut a small slit in remaining 10 circles and place on top of filling. Use a fork to crimp edges. Bake at 375°F for 25 minutes. Dust with powdered sugar.
Hamantaschen hand pies: cut 20 triangles with a cookie cutter. Place 10 triangles on countertop or cutting board and fill with pie filling. Cut a smaller triangle in center of remaining triangle pieces and place on top of filling. Use a fork to crimp edges. Bake at 375°F for 25 minutes. Dust with powdered sugar.
Half-moon hand pies: cut 20 dough circles with a cookie cutter. Place a teaspoon of filling on one side of dough, leaving space to seal pies. Fold over circle to create a half-moon shape. Cut a slit on top of pie. Bake at 375°F for 25 minutes. Dust with powdered sugar.