No matter how good the filling, the crust is the showcase: a good homemade crust takes a pie to new heights.
There are four basic ingredients in a pie crust: flour, fat, water and salt. You can come up with all kinds of tasty variations just by changing your basic ingredients, as long as you stick to the ratio of three parts flour, two parts fat, and one part liquid.
Flour: For a tender crust, choose a low-protein flour. Pastry flour, with a protein content of about 8-10%, ranks between all-purpose flour and cake flour. All-purpose flour works just fine for pie crusts, while cake flour may lack enough protein to form a workable, elastic dough.
Depending upon your tastes and the recipe, you may substitute nut flours (almond flour or hazelnut flour) or whole wheat pastry flour for part of the mixture.
If you're a novice crust-maker, start with a plain all-purpose or pastry flour dough.
Perfect Pie Crusts
Fat: Flaky crusts can be made from a variety of fats: butter, lard, shortening, duck fat, vegetable oil, or nut oils.
Crusts made with all butter are very flavorful, though they are generally not quite as flaky as crusts made with shortening or lard.
Vegetable shortening pie doughs are easier to work with and hold their shape better than all-butter crusts, but the flavor won't be as rich.
Lard produces the flakiest crust, but processed lard can have a chemical aftertaste. Some butchers or farmers' market stands may sell fresh rendered lard.
Some of the best pie crusts are made with a combination of fats: half butter, for flavor, and half shortening or lard, for flakiness.
Fans of crispier crusts use melted butter or oil for the fat, resulting in a mealier dough that bakes up as a fine-textured, crisp crust.
Liquid: Ice water, fruit juices, egg yolks, sour cream, milk or cream add different flavors and textures to your pie crust.
When adding liquid to the flour and fat mixture, it should be ice-cold in order to keep the pieces of fat cool and separate.
Always add liquid a tablespoon at a time, tossing with the flour mixture.
Humidity can affect dough performance, so you may need less liquid than the recipe calls for.
If your dough becomes too wet, you'll need to add more flour to roll out the crust, throwing off your ratio and resulting in a tough crust.
A little bit of acid--vinegar or lemon juice--helps tenderize the dough and prevents it from oxidizing.
Salt: don't forget to add a pinch of salt to enhance the flavor of your crust.
For a sweeter crust, add a tablespoon or two of confectioners' sugar. Granulated sugar can make the dough sticky and harder to work with.
Other additions: Wheat germ, a pinch of spice, a dash of flavorful liqueur or cold brewed coffee are all good additions to pie crusts.
Basic Flaky Pie Crust
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup shortening, chilled
3 tablespoons ice water
Whisk the flour and salt together in a medium size bowl. With a pastry blender, cut in the cold shortening until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Drizzle 2 to 3 tablespoons ice water over flour. Toss mixture with a fork to moisten, adding more water a few drops at a time until the dough comes together.
Gently gather dough particles together into a ball. Wrap in plastic wrap, and chill for at least 30 minutes before rolling.
Roll out dough, and put in a pie plate. Fill with desired filling
Baker's Secret Pie Crust
3/4 cup cake flour
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon white sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon baking powder
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
5 tablespoons shortening
1 egg yolk
2 teaspoons distilled white vinegar
3 cubes ice
1/2 cup cold water
Measure butter & shortening onto a plate, put into freezer for about 20 minutes.
Measure cake flour, all-purpose flour, sugar, salt and baking powder into the bowl of a food processor. Pulse for a few seconds to mix.
Take 1/2 of the cold butter and 1/2 of the cold shortening, put into processor with dry ingredients and pulse off and on for about 1 minute. Scrape down twice while doing this.
Take remainder of the cold butter & cold shortening and cut in very briefly with the processor, leaving visible pea-sized chunks. Do not over process at this stage!
In a measuring cup, mix egg yolk and vinegar together, add ice cubes and water. Let this get chilled, about 3 to 4 minutes.
Remove mixed flours and shortening from processor, put into a large mixing bowl. Sprinkle approximately 4 to 5 tablespoons of this egg, water, vinegar mixture, a little at a time, mixing gently with a fork. The key to this is, you do not want a wet dough, and you do not want to over mix.
Place this dough into plastic wrap or plastic bag, chill in refrigerator for a few minutes. (May also be frozen for a few weeks at this stage for future use).
Remove from refrigerator and roll out. This makes absolutely the BEST pie crusts.
Banana Coconut Cream Pie
1 (6-ounce) pie crust
3 tablespoons cornstarch
1 1/3 cups water
1 (14-ounce) can Sweetened Condensed Milk (NOT evaporated milk)
3 egg yolks, beaten
2 tablespoons margarine or butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup flaked coconut, toasted
2 medium bananas
Lemon juice from concentrate
Whipped cream, whipped
In heavy saucepan, dissolve cornstarch in water; stir in Condensed Milk and egg yolks. Cook and stir until thickened and bubbly. Remove from heat; add margarine and vanilla. Cool slightly.
Fold in coconut. Slice bananas; dip in lemon juice and drain. Arrange on bottom of pie crust. Pour filling over bananas; cover.
Chill 4 hours or until set. Top with whipped cream. Garnish with toasted coconut and sliced bananas if desired. Refrigerate leftovers.
Caramel Date Cream Pie
Prep Time: 20 minutes
This impressive dessert is the perfect choice for a dinner party. Chock-full of nuts and silky caramel, it will satisfy even the sweetest tooth.
1 ( 14-ounce ) can Sweetened Condensed Milk( NOT evaporated milk )
2/3 cup chopped dates
2/3 cup chopped pecans
2 tablespoons milk
1 cup ( 1/2 pint ) whipping cream, whipped
1 (6-ounce ) package graham cracker crumb crust
To caramelize Sweetened Condensed Milk: Pour Sweetened Condensed Milk into 2-quart glass measure. Microwave on 1/2 power Medium 4 minutes, stirring after 2 minutes. Reduce to 1/3 power (LOW); microwave 12 to 16 minutes or until thick and light caramel-colored, stirring briskly every 2 minutes until smooth. Cool. Chill thoroughly.
Stir in dates, pecans and milk; cool. Chill thoroughly. Fold in whipped cream. Pour into crust. Chill 3 hours or until set. Garnish as desired. Refrigerate leftovers.
Sweet Potato Cheesecake Pie
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup butter or margarine, softened
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 egg yolk
3 medium sweet potatoes, cooked and mashed
1 tablespoon butter or margarine, melted
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 packages (8 ounces each) cream cheese, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
Pecan Crumb Topping:
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
6 tablespoons butter or margarine, softened
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 cup chopped pecans
Whipping (heavy) cream, if desired
Heat oven to 400 F. Stir flour, 1/2 cup butter, 1/4 cup sugar, 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon and the egg yolk until mixture forms a ball. Pat about two-thirds of the dough on bottom only of 10-inch spring form pan (with side removed) to make bottom crust 1/8 inch thick. Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until crust just begins to brown around edge.
Reduce oven temperature to 300 F. Attach side to pan. Pat remaining dough about 1 inch up inside of pan.
Beat sweet potatoes, 1 tablespoon butter, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, the nutmeg and vanilla in medium bowl with electric mixer on low speed until blended; set aside. Beat cream cheese and 1 cup sugar in large bowl on medium speed about 1 minute or until smooth. Beat in sweet potato mixture on low speed about 1 minute or until blended. Beat in eggs, one at a time. Pour batter into spring form pan. Place spring form pan in larger pan on oven rack. Pour very hot water into larger pan to one-third the height of spring form pan.
Bake 1 hour 30 minutes or until center is set, adding very hot water to larger pan as needed.
Meanwhile, make Pecan Crumb Topping:
Stir flour, brown sugar, butter and cinnamon in small bowl until crumbly. Stir in pecans.
Sprinkle Pecan Crumb Topping over cheesecake. Bake about 30 minutes longer or until topping is set. Cool 30 minutes. Loosen side of cheesecake from pan; remove side of pan. Refrigerate uncovered 3 to 4 hours or until chilled. Serve with whipped cream if desired. Store covered in refrigerator.
Peanut Butter Pie
15 hydrox or oreo cookies, crushed
1/4 Cup butter, melted
1 1/4 Cup creamy peanut butter
1 8-oz pkg. cream cheese, at room temperature
1 Cup powdered sugar
2 Tbs. unsalted butter (1/4 stick)
1 1/4 Cup chilled whipping cream
1 Tbs. vanilla
melted chocolate (optional)
Mix oreo cookies and butter together and press into sides and bottom of pie pan. Bake at 350 degrees F. for 7 minutes. Cool.
Using electric mixer, beat peanut butter, cream cheese, 1/2 Cup sugar and melted butter in a large bowl.
Using clean dry beaters, beat cream with remaining 1/2 cup sugar and vanilla in medium bowl until peaks form.
Stir 1/4 of cream into peanut butter mixture, then fold in remaining cream (mixture will be thick).
Spoon into prepared crust. Refrigerate until firm.
1 lb Ground beef
2 ts Flour
2 ts Vegetable oil
10 oz Can sliced mushrooms,
1 Beef cube
1 Onion cube
1 c Boiling water
Salt and pepper to taste
3 1/2 c Seasoned mashed potatoes
11 oz Pkg mixed vegetables,
Brown beef and flour in hot oil. Drain of excess fat. Stir in
mushrooms, Oxo beef cubes disolved in boiling water, salt and
Turn into a 6-cup baking dish. Top with mixed vegetables ( reserve
some for garnish later), then mashed potatoes. Run tines of fork
though potato for decorative effect. Bake at 375 degrees F. for 30
minutes. Garnish with remaining vegetables
Blueberry Crumb Pie
1 c Sugar
8 oz Commercial sour cream
3 tb All-purpose flour
1/8 ts Salt
4 c Fresh blueberries
1 Unbaked 9-inch pastry shell
1 tb Sugar
1/4 c Dried breadcrumbs; fine
1 tb Sugar
1 tb Butter or margarine; melted
Combine first 4 ingredients; stir well. Place blueberries in unbaked pastry shell; sprinkle 1 tablespoon sugar over berries. Spread sour cream mixture over berries. Combine breadcrumbs, 1 tablespoon sugar, and butter; sprinkle over top. Bake at 375 degrees for 45 to 50 minutes or until center is firm. Yield: one 9-inch pie.