When it comes to baking dessert, pie seems to land forefront in our household. Over the past year I’ve expanded upon my pie baking skills adding additional flavors such as peach pie and quiche. A good pie must start with a strong foundation, however, and for many aspiring bakers this poses a major challenge which is how to make pie crust from scratch.
Today I’m going to share exactly how I’ve been making pie crusts for more than 20 years. I’ll include tips that have saved me time and heartache over the years and sped up the process so that making a homemade pie crust is not daunting and almost an afterthought in the baking process.
How to Make Pie Crust from Scratch
Pie Crust Baking Experience
Before I explain exactly how I make pie crust, the tools you will need and the ingredients for the recipe I use I need to first share a bit about my pie baking history. I’ve been making my own pie crusts since I was about 13 years old. I had watched my grandmother make pies and asked a few questions.
Then one day I declared I would make pies. After that I became the pie baker for every Christmas. I learned over the years that may were impressed that I made my own pie crust. This was baffling to me as making pie crust was always easy for me. Didn’t everyone make pie crust from scratch?
Apparently not! Thus the huge market for frozen pie crusts and pre-made pies at the grocery store. But if we are completely honestly, a homemade pie crust tastes best, contains the fewest ingredients and allows the most customization.
How to Make a Perfect Pie Crust
Over the past year my pie baking has increased. With being home a lot and enjoying more and more fresh foods from our garden and local farmers I’ve baked even more than normal. In fact I’m about to plan out a schedule where every month of the year has a pie to celebrate with.
Some pies I have baked during the past year include:
- Lemon Pie (this has become my favorite for Easter)
- Peach Pie
- Apple Pie
- Key Lime Pie
- Pumpkin Pie
- Pecan Pie
Most of the pies I make require a single crust. This is the quicker crust to make. However, sometimes you will need a double such as for the Apple Pie and Peach Pie. For those pies you use a double recipe and repeat the process twice. The second crust needs to be sealed to the top of the first crust.
This is an added step but the end result, an amazing two crust pie, is worth it. I flute the edges on almost all my pies today. I find this method is quickest and easiest. It also has a nice look to it, which helps with presentation when you bake a pie for your family or guests.
How to Make Pie Crust Easy
What You Need to Make Pie Crust
Next I want to share the exact tools I use in my kitchen when baking pie crust. The proper tools are essential to your success. If you do not own these items, please purchase them first so you are completely ready to make your next pie from scratch. I have replaced a few tools over the years.
Most recently I had to replace my pastry blender. I had used the same one for decades, it was wood, falling apart and I simply had to thank it for its service and move on. I upgraded with a Pampered Chef Pastry Blender which has been working well. There are many simliar models and brands, however. Here’s my full supply list for how to make pie crust from scratch:
- Wood Rolling Pin
- Pastry Blender (wood or plastic handle, stainless steel)
- Sturdy Bowl (I prefer bowls with a handle, bowl must be large enough for the blender)
- Flat Surface (I use a large wooden cutting board)
- Pie Pan
- Pie Crust Shield (I use a full ring, and have tried others, buy the full ring!)
- Heavy Tin Foil (for quiche or any recipes where you pre-bake)
- Knife (to trim crust if needed)
A few notes on the tools I recommend. For the rolling pin you want a full size one. Never submerge your wood rolling pin in water. Only wipe it with a damp cloth or damp paper towel. The one I have is Foley brand, it’s vintage and was basically never used. When we cleaned out my grandparent’s house years ago I was wise enough to take this rolling pin.
You might be able to find this brand on Ebay or Etsy. Otherwise look for a wood rolling pin with good reviews and ratings. I have linked above to an option that looks suitable. Please do not be discouraged if you don’t have a vintage rolling pin.
For the flat surface. I currently use a large wooden cutting board. It’s just barely large enough for me to roll out the dough. It helps for easy cleanup. Some kitchens have workable counters so you might be able to just roll your pie crust out on your counter. Another option is a pastry mat. I had one and never used it but many people like them.
Lastly, regarding the pie crust shield. This is truly a secret tool you will want and need. It helps prevent burning of the crust. I have a full ring shield and would recommend nothing less. I have tried the tin foil method and smaller shields that you had to piece together. Such a mess! The shield works great every time.
Pie Crust Ingredients
Now that you’ve gathered the tools needed to make great pie crusts, you will need the actual ingredients for your crust. I have been using the Better Homes & Gardens recipe for a single pie crust for years. It’s in my recipe book I’ve had since high school.
However when I looked the recipe up online it seems they have modified it… my recipe calls for 1/3 cup butter/shortening PLUS 1 TB. I’m not sure when this changed but I’ve used the same recipe for more than 20 years and do not plan to change it anytime soon!
- Flour (I most often use half white / half wheat)
- Butter (I use salted)
- Salt (I recommend Celtic Sea Salt)
- Cold Water (tap is fine)
Have all of these ingredients ready, along with your measuring spoons and a knife to cut the butter. Now you are ready to make your pie crust! The most basic recommendation I can offer is to follow the steps in the recipe one by one. But I want to share some additional hacks or tips that have helped me.
How to Make Pie Crust Homemade
Pie Crust from Scratch Tips
• Butter Versus Shortening: I switched to using butter only for my pie crusts after reading about the health concerns associated with shortening, or what is commonly known as Crisco. I buy salted butter so I then usually just add a fraction of the salt the recipe calls for in the crust. I think a butter crust has an amazing taste.
• Softening the Butter: Because butter is stored in the refrigerator you will need to let it soften prior to making your crust. I like to let it soften about an hour for the best results. To speed up the process, measure your butter and place it in the bowl. Then use the fork to separate the butter into smaller pieces. This will increase surface area and help warm the butter up faster.
• Flour Recommendations: Most crusts I make are half white flour and half wheat flour. They are a bit sturdier with the addition of the wheat flour and higher in fiber. I find this makes a healthier crust and a more filling crust as well.
• Using the Pastry Blender: I use the pastry blender to blend the butter, salt and flours together. Some recipes call this “cutting in” or will say “cut the butter into the flour.” If you need more leverage move the bowl to a lower surface such as a table or chair so you can work “over” the bowl. Then I use the fork to blend the water into the flour mixture. Once it forms a ball I transfer the dough onto the flat surface.
• Flouring the Surface: Be sure to flour the surface. For this I have some white flour handy. I also flour both sides of the dough ball, my hands, etc. At this point you are working with butter that’s room temperature. This is where most people run into trouble. The dough can easily get sticky.
• Rolling the Dough: Continue to flour as you roll out and you can even add flour to the rolling pin. Try to move quickly. I will rotate the dough left or right, or flip it. Whatever direction is needed to achieve the circular shape I want. If you are using a pastry mat it will have line markings for size.
If you do not use a mat you can hold your pie pan over the dough to eyeball and see if it’s the size of the pan. You will want it slightly larger than the pan to accomodate the curve of the pan and the edges of the crust. Once the crust is large enough you can roll it onto the rolling pin to then lift it into the pie pan. Or, you can gently fold the crust into fourths.
• Finishing Steps: Once the pie crust is in the pan you can unfold it easily. You will then gently press the crust down, trim and flute your edges as needed. Don’t forget to use the fork to prick the crust according to the recipe.
• Storage Tips: If I’m making a pie that requires a filling that takes some time, such as the quiche, I will toss the pie pan with the crust into the refrigerator while I clean up and prepare the remaining components. I found this helps the crust to hold up well and not get too soft. If the crust is too soft, it can also flatten under the weight of the pie crust shield.
• Baking Tips: When baking the crust follow the recipe for the crust or pie recipe. With the pie crust shield there might not be directions. Typically I add the shield from the start and then remove it during the last 10-15 minutes of baking. This will offer an opportunity for the crust to bake to a nice golden brown, but not burn.
How to Make Easy Pie Crust
These are all of the steps I take when baking pie crusts from scratch in order to achieve a delicious and stable pie crust. If you have any questions or run into problems while making your pie crust please comment below and I would be happy to trouble shoot or share additional insight on how to make pie crust from scratch.
What’s holding you back from making homemade pie crust?