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Nov 3, 2007 12:23 PM

I'm going to brave my first pie crust

It's ridiculous. I do all sorts of baking perfectly happily, but I'm incredibly intimidated by pie crusts, specifically by rolling them out. I'm convinced they're never going to come out even or the right shape or not overworked. And so I've never made one. (I know, I know, I need to just do it and, like everything else, it will improve with practice.)

I'm going to make the John Thorne Pecan Pie for T-giving. I know the suggestion is an extra thick butter/lard crust, but I think I just want to start with a successful basic pie crust. I know some crusts are harder to work with than others.

So, does anyone have a recipe they want to suggest as being particularly kind and forgiving for beginners or any tips they want to share?

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  1. Hi Marcia2--Tomorrow I am going to brave my second pie crust! Made my first one two weeks ago and it was really flaky. I used Karen Barker's recipe with chilled lard instead of Crisco and FROZEN butter cut into cubes. I used the food processor to make the dough and wound up using all of the water. Here's a link to the pie crust recipe:

    By the way, I did a whole bunch of stuff wrong--forgot to dot the filling with butter, forgot to sprinkle the top crust with sugar, had to fix the dough a bit, and the pie (apple) STILL turned out delicious and pretty good-looking too! My only tip is to keep telling yourself that it's okay to mess up (if you find yourself getting frustrated). And I kept telling myself that I was baking a magical pie!

    1 Reply
    1. re: nofunlatte

      Frozen butter and cold-hardened lard or shortening seem like essential steps for a food processor, and not bad ideas for a hand-formed pie crust as well. Remember to use spoonfuls of water taken from mostly ice. As far as working the dough, less is more. It will form up when rolled, shouldn't really before.

    2. I actually made my first pie crust in years last week, and it was fantastic. I put EVERYTHING (utensils, bowl, flour... everything) in the freezer for 30 minutes prior to mixing. I also let the crust sit in the freezer another 30 minutes before filling and baking. Also, I rolled out the crust between 2 pieces of parchment paper, because I don't have a good countertop for rolling out dough. Hope your crust turns out great!

      1 Reply
      1. re: kristin311

        Yeah, I finally decided to try this -- I froze the flour/fat mixture and refrigerated the food processor dough and blade (no more space in the freezer!), both overnight, and I had great chunks of fat in the dough. It worked really well, dramatically better than just using butter from the frig.

      2. If you put the little lump of dough in the refrigerator overnight, Little Pie Co cookbook recommends letting it sit on the counter for about 20 minutes before rolling it out. None of the recipes tell you this stuff.

        1. If you have any of the Jamie Oliver cookbooks he has a really easy way to make pie crust. The hardest part for me has always been getting the crust into the pan without it breaking into parts. I've tried the over the rolling pin deal, etc., and it still came apart. I usually end up just putting all the pieces into the pan and pressing them together.

          Oliver tells you to shape the crust into a roll and then refrigerate to rest for at least an hour. When you're ready to bake the tart blind (sans filling and weighted down with pie weights or beans), you merely slice off pieces of the roll and lay them next to each other, slightly overlapping, in the pan. Then you push them together to make a continuous crust. I've only done this a couple of times, but it works really well and is quite easy.

          1. You can do it! Remember, tasting good is more important than looking sculpted. I always get compliments on my pie crust. I have my favorite recipe and directions up on my food website - it's at - click on "food" and then scroll down to "August 25, 2007." You can follow those filling instructions too for any fruit pie.

            The most important things: The dough should be well mixed and silky, for lack of a better word. It should be refrigerated for 20-30 minutes at least before using it (if it's been in the fridge a long time, let it sit out a few minutes before rolling). It should have lots of butter in it for the best taste. It should be simple. The only extra thing I sometimes add to mine is some lemon zest; that's really nice.

            Good luck!


            2 Replies
            1. re: seattledebs

              I ended up using Rose Levy Berenbaum's all butter basic flaky pie crust and it went very well. Even the rolling out, which was the part that was scaring me, went fine.

              I tried the trick of rolling out between 2 pieces of parchment, which was nice because I didn't have to add any extra flour. I was using silicone coated parchment and I finally had to tape the bottom piece to the counter, because it just kept sliding around. It stuck the tiniest bit to the parchment and I had to peel it off carefully, but it worked well.

              I now realize that I actually prefer a flakier crust and will try a butter/shortening combination next time. Has anyone tried the no trans fat shortening at Whole Foods in the blue tub (I can't remember the brand)?

              Many thanks for all the advice and encouragement.

              1. re: marcia2

                I use the never fail pie crust recipe and also use lard. I roll the dough into four balls
                and then put in the frig for 30 minutes. I take one out and then start to flattened it
                out in my hands then I have to use a cookie sheet because my counter top is tile.
                so I use a cookie sheet and two pieces of wax paper with flour. and I start rolling
                it out from the center of the dough and then turn it and roll out again from the
                center and it works great for me that way. then once it is the thickness you want
                I roll it on to the rolling pin and then roll it off onto the pie plate.