HOME > Chowhound > Home Cooking >


I've never made a pie crust. Is there anything that intimidates you so much you won't try to make it?

Also...meringue...the kind that goes on top of pie. These are just two things that frighten me.

You guys make your own pasta and Worchestishire sauce and cheese. Have you no fear?

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. I was afraid of pie crust well into my fifties. now I make it with some confidence. it is a skill which can be learned.

    3 Replies
    1. re: magiesmom

      Any tips? Maybe in my 51st year I will try and tackle it!

      1. re: Bliss149

        check out pie crust 101 and 102 on Smitten kitchen. easy as.......
        you can do it!

        1. re: magiesmom

          Yes, Vodka helps (not drinking it...well, maybe that helps too). But sometimes, the dough gets so soft I need extra flour so it doesn't fall apart when I lift it.

    2. I'm afraid of making a lot of the fermented stuff. I MIGHT try to make kimchi one day, but I doubt it.

      2 Replies
      1. re: twyst

        Oh that is hysterical that you mention kimchi. I LOVE KIMCHI so much I often eat it with breakfast and was recently fantasizing about how good it would be homemade.

        But yeah. Na ga happen.

        1. re: twyst

          Definitely recommend giving kimchi a try. As long as you get the authentic gochugaru and gochujang (korean pepper flakes and paste) it will turn out just fine. We use napa cabbage and love it.

        2. Pastry stuff in general is a little scary for me. I'm ok now with pizza dough and fresh pasta but still scared spitless about trying stuff like filo dough and puff pastry. Way too technical, delicate and finicky for a guy who doesn't really like to measure anything in the first place. :)

          5 Replies
          1. re: Jzone

            Measuring! Yes! So much easier to cook things that have a wide tolerance for error.

            1. re: Jzone

              Puff pastry is relatively easy to make and its 5x better than what you will buy, but I would never think of trying to make my own phyllo dough because it isn't worth the frustration.

              Ive never really understood why the thought of making pie can reduce an otherwise great cook to a quivering mass but Ive been making pie crust since I was in high school.

              Successful pie crust in my opinion is careful measuring and handling the dough as little as possible. You cant be afraid of it but you don't want to overwork it. I think that many people try to roll it out too thin or they don't give it enough time to rest in the refrigerator.

              I am intimidated by Chinese and Indian dishes.

              1. re: Kelli2006

                Chinese scares me but for some reason Indian doesn't.

                Indian to me was mostly a matter of getting all the spices and ingredints. (Wish I could share mine with you...I went to Indian grocery and now have lifetime supply of each spice.)

                I have an Indian cookbook called "5 spices, 50 dishes." Good way to get your feet wet without large investment in the ingredients.

                P.s. Maybe part of it for me is not having a lot of history and conviction about homemade being that much better than store bought. I can only think of one pie from a little town in Arkansas that I KNEW was homemade crust and I bet it had lard in it because it was so *&^%$% GOOD!!!!.

                1. re: Kelli2006

                  Kelli--funny, but I made puff pastry just once and didn't think it was worth the work, so I buy frozen. I DO make my own phyllo, tho! Piecrusts don't scare me, neither do yeast breads or naan/chappati/poori, etc. Can't really think of much I'm afraid to make, other than not making just 'cause I don't care for the product.

                  1. re: pine time

                    I don't find traditional puff pastry to be worth the time and effort, so I usually make a quick puff that is similar to pie crust that's been rolled and folded. It puffs as much as frozen, but is cheaper and tastier.
                    I made my own phyllo a couple of times, but didn't think it was better (or worth the time) so I'm back to frozen.

              2. Yes, but I've made piecrust since I was quite young. I never could get the hang of yeast bread or rolls, at least reliably. Picrust for me was pretty easy.

                I think I've written before about being thoroughly intimidated by expensive cuts of meat. I would never attempt a standing rib roast, for instance. In the first place I would never spend money on such an expensive cut; and secondly I would be extremely anxious about ruining it. (I could do a steak--if I could afford one.) I don't know how to do ribs, beef or pork, either. I'd like to do a pork shoulder some time; but there is the expense. So for me, certain cuts of meat are very intimidating.

                9 Replies
                1. re: sueatmo

                  Watch for sales on pork shoulder. Around Easter or Thanksgiving, our supermarket has those "free turkey" deals if you spend enough in a couple-month period. It used to be easy for us to make the cut. BUT one year they allowed you to sub an alternative -- pork shoulder. I did it low and slow in the slow cooker (not having a smoker) and it was delicious. And I've seen it on special very, very inexpensively. So don't be afraid of it as an expensive cut!

                  1. re: eamcd

                    I think of it as a big cut, therefore expensive. I've never seen a pork shoulder that was not expensive. And my slow cooker isn't that large, either.

                    1. re: sueatmo

                      Grocery stores in my neighborhood often run specials on pork shoulder for as little as $.99 a pound - it's usually more like $1.50-$2/lb, though. I rarely find one smaller than 8 pounds, and they're often larger, so yes, it can look on the surface as though it's an expensive cut. However, one pork shoulder will make like 20 meals, and that's for people who like to eat a lot of meat, so when you break down the cost per meal it's really a pretty good value. I do it in the oven, low and slow - you get delicious crispy "bark" along with succulent meat that way (whereas in the slow cooker you don't get the crispness).

                      1. re: biondanonima

                        I agree that it might be a good value. There are only the two of us, so I'd have a lot of meat to store or consume. I'll have a look in the next few weeks, but in my observation, the shoulder would be quite expensive taken out of one week's food budget. Also my slow cooker is not large.

                        1. re: sueatmo

                          I do my food budget by the month, it works out better. At least on paper! There are only two of us too (if you don't count the cats!)

                          I cook pork shoulder all the time, I do it in the oven in an iron pot. The cheapest I got it lately was $1.19/lb. Used to always be 89 or 99 cents. After it's cooked, and sauced, I put several containers in the freezer then pig out on the rest, It's totally worth it.

                  2. re: sueatmo

                    At Christmas I spent $86 on a prime rib and messed it up. But I learned what not to do next time.

                    So I would say start small if you can.

                    And if you do prime rib,
                    (1) make sure you find the damned twine you think you have BEFORE it's time to cook
                    (2) sit down and figure out EXACTLY what time you need to take it out of the fridge and put it in the oven, etc. Not just some VAGUE idea about taking it out sometime in the morning.
                    (3) Find out how you're supposed to carve the doggone thing BEFORE it comes out of the oven.

                    Despite the mistakes, It was still eaten every bit - I just had to work at it and the raw parts gushing blood were a little disturbing for Christmas dinner.

                    1. re: Bliss149

                      Here's a prime rib tip: Ask the butcher at your market or store to "Newport" it for you. He/She will cut the bones off then reattach them with butcher string. That way you bake it whole, then undo the strings and easy slicing without the bones. Cook gets to gnaw on a bone while the meat rests.

                      1. re: TrishUntrapped

                        Thanks both for the tips. I just can ' t afford a fine cut of meat. It isn't in the budget. An article in the paper today said that beef would continue to increase in price. Overseas demand is up, and drought has reduced cattle in TX and OK.

                    2. I still have nightmare flashes of embarassment and humiliation, from 1976, when I brought my from-scratch apple pies to my girlfriend's very Italian family Thanksgiving dinner. My pies were so purdy, what with nicely ribboned edges and an egg wash glaze. But the pastry top was like a turtle shell. It couldn't be cut by anything less than a chain saw. At that moment I wanted to crawl under a rock. Then my girlfriend's father did a full belly laugh, and asked for the canolis and other Italian desserts to be brought on. As if he expected my failure, and my moment of shame, and then they would all return to their normal.

                      The romance didn't endure, but Al, the father, resonates as one of the greatest persons I have ever had the privilege of knowing. But I flunked pie 101, at the wrong time.

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: Veggo

                        Knowing the very Italian families I've grown up around, they didn't have the Italian desserts because that expected your failure, they had them because it wouldn't have been a holiday without them! I haven't been to an Italian holiday meal without an abundance of each course, and especially desserts!

                        1. re: Veggo

                          Nice story Veggo! I bet the filling was tasty, even if the crust was rock hard and 'purdy'!

                        2. Until I read "Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day" I was terrified of yeast breads. I know it's not everyone's cup of tea (slice of bread? ;), but it's allowed me to get over my fear and do lots of kinds of bread. Now we also make our own pizza dough every Friday (not from 5-a-day book) and it's easy!

                          Now, pie crust on the other hand, I'm determined to try one of the "sure fire" easy recipes people rave about and see if I can get over that fear too. Mom always used frozen, then the roll-out kind when they came out. So I learned young that it was hard!

                          ETA: I've never made my own cheese, worcestershire sauce, or pasta either. (Unless you count spaetzle as pasta!)

                          1. When I make something new or terrifying, I give myself permission to fail once or twice on the way - making sure I've got enough ingredients to give it a second try without a frustrating trip back to the grocery store, also not trying something new and intimidating when company's coming - so my potential failure is my own, not anyone else's.
                            I used this approach making meringue mushrooms this holiday season, and they actually turned out brilliantly, prepared as I was to give it a second try!
                            What words of encouragement would you give a young person trying something for the first time? Can you be that kind to yourself?

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: hungryjoanne

                              Brilliant advice, hungryjoanne! Thank you.

                              1. re: hungryjoanne

                                Good advice hungryjoanne...
                                being prepared to make/adjust the recipe again is good advice.

                                I am famous for making new things with company coming. Usually tho, it is always pretty great. I admit to 37+ years of cooking experience (started at 6). so I do have alot of 'adjustment experience', or - how to fix anything going wrong.

                                GO for it!

                              2. I can't say it out loud, I have to whisper it...(glances to see if anyone is looking)...souffle. What if it doesn't get puffy? Or it gets puffy then collapses? Or I get yolk in the whites? Or I overbeat the whites? I just can't face it, there are too many avenues to failure.

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: Jerseygirl111


                                  I find Souffle to be easy -as- pie. Hahaha. Said tongue in cheek of course, as they are both percieved to be difficult - but not!

                                  Souffle is nothing more (in a savory hot application), a thick white sauce, flavorings, and whipped egg whites.
                                  If you prep your souffle container, and have your guests sitting down when it comes from the oven, no deflation will happen until you cut into it.
                                  I make a cheese souffle every few weeks for lunch with a salad. One of our favorites for a light meal that feels elegant. In many of these types of recipes, nothing tried-nothing-gained, and you will find a feel for it soon.:)

                                  I think in many of these

                                2. puff pastry... nope. Pretty easy to buy in my neighbourhood; pre-rolled even :)

                                  1. Do any of you "pie crust challenged" people live in the the Connecticut/New York/New Jersey tristate area? I'm thinking maybe it would be fun to hold a Pie Making 101 class.

                                    As many times as I post photos on here about making pie crust, I know NOTHING beats an actual hands on step by step class. Because once you get your hands on making a pie, you'll get it.

                                    My sister "C" is one of the worst cooks ever. I am not speaking out of school, she knows it. A Coach bag is more tender than her pot roast. So I was absolutely shocked when she called and asked for my apple pie recipe to bake for a CONTEST! After she bought all the ingredients, including a pie pan, I gave her step by step instructions over the phone while she made her pie. After the contest she called back sullenly. Her pie came out so badly, the judges actually spit it out.

                                    I went to visit her, and we made an apple pie. I should say, SHE made the pie. I touched nothing, I wanted her to do it on her own with me advising and coaching. She noted all the things she had done differently - her first pie crust had been too dry, and she had rolled it way too long, making it almost impossible to cut. The funniest thing she had done was change the amount of spices. She could not believe the filling only called for 1/4 teaspoon of nutmeg so she added a full Tablespoon of Nutmeg, and just to be safe added a full Tablespoon of CInnamon too. Oh I can just imagine those judges.

                                    When her new pie came out, she started dancing. It looked and smelled great. She called the other contestants (her friends) and they came over and loved it. A huge success and a wow moment for my sister. "I can make a pie!" she said over and over.

                                    So... Anyone up for a hands on apple pie demo?

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: TrishUntrapped


                                      I took a class in Boston, called "Easy as Pie". Although I am not frightened of making it any longer, my KA does all the work. It may not be the best pie crust ever, because I don't get enough practice.
                                      Sorry I don't live closer, or I'd join your group, sounds fun. :)


                                    2. Bliss,

                                      Cooking has levels of difficulty and know-how.
                                      I would put making pie crust and meringue WAY below making pasta, cheese or Worchestchire sauce:)

                                      Ease into it. The tactile nature of making pie crust is awesome. Tho, ehem, I use a food processor to start, then schlub the mixture together by hand at the end. Just don't overwork it. respect the need to chill it, and you can patch, patch, patch, if needed rather than working a crust to death.

                                      The only way to get it right is to feel it, try it, learn from the process.

                                      Start with the pie crust, find a youtube video for help in meringue, and leave the cheese for a few weeks down the line.

                                      Viva le home-made pie!

                                      1. I am a pastry-making fiend (I don't really find it that difficult) as well as very adept at soda bread, cornbread, and other quick breads but yeast breads totally intimidate me and I haven't quite gotten up the nerve to try them yet. I really need to get over this though. Any tips?

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: Lady_Tenar

                                          Just get a recipe and do it. As long as you knead it long enough, you'll be surprised how good and easy it is.

                                        2. I have generally avoided pie crust making because 1) my first attempt ended disastrously and 2) my husband makes it look effortless. My pie crust aversion pretty much extends to anything which requires good rolling pin skills--cinnamon rolls, sugar and gingerbread cookies, etc. I also am afraid of killing yeast after doing so a couple of times with too hot water.

                                          I recently learned about pastry cloths and rolling pin socks, which has been a huge revelation. Where have these things been all my life???! I first used them to conquer lefse-making and have decided if I can do that, I can certainly do pie crust and cookie dough.

                                          1 Reply
                                          1. re: jlhinwa

                                            I was afraid to make pie crust even though I make great Italian bread and pasta. Finally decided this fall was the time to learn. I used the vodka method since it seemed user friendly.

                                            My first time was not too good, the crust itself plus I don't think I baked it long enough. But give it a second try, my next was one of the best pies I ever ate, and the third was right behind it. I'm taking a break right now but looking forward to some summer pies this year. My fear has been conquered!

                                            Now meringue...the one time I made it, it was quite liquid-y and, yes, I was afraid to try again for some reason. Or was that the filling? My MIL made the BEST lemon meringue, wish I had her recipe or advice. I really should try one again, maybe for Valentines? My husband would love that. I wonder why I gave up so easily.

                                          2. Most important piece of advice, to paraphrase FDR: You have nothing to fear but fear itself. There's nothing to be intimidated about. What's the worst that can happen? A garbage can and extra flour/butter on hand are a baker's best friend.

                                            There are some things I simply don't make anymore because I can get better elsewhere. Yeast breads, mostly. I have no problem getting the dough the right elasticity, getting the correct rise, etc... But I cannot get that thick, cracking crust they get at, say, the Sullivan Street Bakery. I've tried all the tricks. Steam, water in a pan, pizza stones, clay pots, longer baking, etc... I get a hard crust, but not very thick. I chalk it up to not having the same ingredient, utensils/cookware, or oven.