Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Easy double pie crust

Please be sure to note that this is not my recipe and I did not write the article, it is from the Hillbilly Housewife. I do not use shortening, I use olive oil or lard. Just wanted to make sure you all knew this.

■2-1/2 cups flour
■1 teaspoon salt
■3/4 cup shortening
■6 or 7 tablespoons of water
■waxed paper or pastry cloths

I have a confession to make. Pie crust intimidated me for many years. I never actually witnessed my own mother make pie crust, and when my Granny made it, it seemed to just magically appear on her rolling pin. So many recipes were unavailable to me though, as long as I avoided pie crusts, that finally, I decided I would just learn how to make it. That is when I discovered the secret: The crust is easier to manage when it is rolled out between waxed paper or pastry cloths. Eureka! With this one discovery, I have taken the pie crust bull by the horns and made it my own. Pie crust is fun and easy for me now. And if I can tackle this small bit of culinary success, believe me, everyone can.

First get out your trusty big bowl. Measure the flour and salt into it. Stir it up, to evenly distribute the salt. Measure the shortening with a 1/4-cup measuring cup. Scoop up a full quarter cup of shortening and level off the top. Your fingers will get messy. It is just a fact of nature, once I accepted this, making pie crust got a lot easier. Now scoop the shortening out of the cup and plop it into the bowl of flour. Measure the shortening again, 2 more times, making 3/4 cup all together, be sure to level off the top of it each time.

Now, use a fork or your fingers to mix the fat into the flour. I will use my new pastry blender. You don’t want it too well mixed, but it should be in small crumbly pieces. Then add your water. Mix the dough up with the fork, or your hands until it forms a ball of dough. Knead it a few times to make sure it holds together well. Add a little more water if you need to.

Divide the dough in half, forming it into two balls. Rip off two sheets of (roughly) square shaped waxed paper. Lay the first sheet down and pat out a pie crust ball into a thick circle on top of it. Lay the second sheet of waxed paper over the pie crust. Now you have a sandwich, the pie crust is the filling, and the waxed paper is the bread. Use a rolling pin or a sturdy jar or glass to roll out the dough between the sheets of waxed paper. The dough is quite manageable in this state. Roll it out as thin and big as you like, 12″ diameter is standard. Now, gently peel off the top sheet of waxed paper, being careful not to rip the crust. It should peel off quite easily, despite the wrinkles in the paper. Place the waxed paper back down on the crust, and flip it over. Peel the other side of waxed paper off too, again being careful. Do not replace the second sheet of waxed paper. Now get your pie pan and lay it upside down over the pie crust. Slip your hand under the waxed paper lined side of the pie crust,and place your other hand on the pie plate. Gently invert the two together. Remove the final sheet of waxed paper and you should have the pie crust nicely centered in the upright pie pan. Gently adjust the crust in the pan, being careful no to stretch it into shape, but only to coax it carefully. If you stretch pie crust, it will shrink back while it bakes. Sad but true. This means you have to get the pie crust plenty large enough to fit into the pie pan when you roll it out.

Let the extra crust hang over the sides of the pan. Roll out the other half of the crust the same way you did the top half. You can reuse the same waxed paper. When the second crust is thin, set it aside.

Fill up your pie crust, using the filling of your choice. Mound the fruit slightly in the center if you like a pretty peaked top on your pie. Loosen both layers of waxed paper on the second crust. Remove the top layer of waxed paper, and carefully invert the crust on top of the pie filling. Remove the final sheet of waxed paper and toss them into the garbage. Trim the crust so it extends about 1/2 an inch beyond the rim of the pie pan. Cut and paste with any dough scraps if you have thin spots. Fold the edges of the crust under and crimp them with your fingers or a fork to seal the edges. I flute the edges by pinching them with my fingers into a pretty rim, but this is not necessary. It is pretty easy though, with a little practice. Like playing with play-dough almost. Cut slits in the top of the pie for steam to escape. Bake as directed.

For a single crust pie, just cut the recipe in half. Or make the whole recipe and refrigerate or freeze the other half for later. To pre-bake a crust, bake it at 425° until it is golden brown, about 10 or 15 minutes. Poke it all over with a fork before baking to prevent air bubbles from forming.

This is much harder to describe than to actually do. I was very clumsy about learning this skill. My pie crusts are not fancy, they are sturdy. I do not make the most tender flaky crust on the block, but if I can figure out how to do this, then anyone can. This recipe is exceptionally easy to handle, and the waxed paper method really lightens the task. I now consider pies an easy and quick dish. I didn’t always, but practice really makes all the difference. Lard and animal fats make flakier crusts than vegetable shortening. Vegetable shortening still makes a very good pie crust though, and no animals are harmed in the making of it.

I’ve made reusable pastry cloths from hemmed pieces of old pillow cases or sheets. Cut them about 18″ square and hem or zigzag all the edges on the sewing machine. Then use them just like the waxed paper and toss them into the washer when you are done. They actually work better than the waxed paper, and are much cheaper and more ecologically friendly.

All-purpose white flour and unbleached white flour both make very tender pie crusts. Whole wheat pastry flour, made from soft wheat also makes a very tender, flaky crust. Plain whole wheat flour, or whole wheat bread flour makes a sturdier crust. I like sturdy whole wheat crusts on pot pies and quiches, but it takes kids a while to get used to them.


Just for clarification, this post is copied from Hillbilly Housewife at the link above. I did make my own pastry cloths just like she describes though. I dont want anyone to think I wrote this post.


Humble wife said...

What a great tip. Seems like I avoided pie making for years because of the same thing you described.

I love the idea and am thinking perhaps I should make some cloth ones today.

Oh and I love the tip about the cabinets-you are wise and I am going to paint the inside a light color~

Have a great day my friend!

Goose Hill Farm said...

Great post! After all these years, I have not been able to find the "perfect" pie crust, but I think my search may have ended.....WOO HOO!

I was just thinking, "I don't have a pastry cloth" and low and behold, you inform us how to make one. YES! I am so glad I stopped by today! :D


loves2spin said...

I will have to post this is more than one batch because it's too long.

loves2spin said...

Sometime, lost in the mists of my past, I was taught about writing a "sandwich letter." That is when you want to write something unpleasant, and so first you write something nice, then insert the unpleasant part, and then say something nice again at the end. Theoretically, this makes the unpleasant bit more palatable. So, knowing that YOU know I love you, here goes:

This post is a fabulous description of a great way to make pie crust! I am particularly intrigued with the idea of making my own pastry cloths.

(Here comes the unpleasant bit.) Please read the following excerpt from and article on the Weston A. Price Foundation website called "The Skinny on Fats."

Hydrogenation: This is the process that turns polyunsaturates, normally liquid at room temperature, into fats that are solid at room temperature—margarine and shortening. To produce them, manufacturers begin with the cheapest oils—soy, corn, cottonseed or canola, already rancid from the extraction process—and mix them with tiny metal particles—usually nickel oxide. The oil with its nickel catalyst is then subjected to hydrogen gas in a high-pressure, high-temperature reactor. Next, soap-like emulsifiers and starch are squeezed into the mixture to give it a better consistency; the oil is yet again subjected to high temperatures when it is steam-cleaned. This removes its unpleasant odor. Margarine's natural color, an unappetizing grey, is removed by bleach. Dyes and strong flavors must then be added to make it resemble butter. Finally, the mixture is compressed and packaged in blocks or tubs and sold as a health food.

Partially hydrogenated margarines and shortenings are even worse for you than the highly refined vegetable oils from which they are made because of chemical changes that occur during the hydrogenation process. Under high temperatures, the nickel catalyst causes the hydrogen atoms to change position on the fatty acid chain. Before hydrogenation, pairs of hydrogen atoms occur together on the chain, causing the chain to bend slightly and creating a concentration of electrons at the site of the double bond. This is called the cis formation, the configuration most commonly found in nature. With hydrogenation, one hydrogen atom of the pair is moved to the other side so that the molecule straightens. This is called the trans formation, rarely found in nature. Most of these man-made trans fats are toxins to the body, but unfortunately your digestive system does not recognize them as such. Instead of being eliminated, trans fats are incorporated into cell membranes as if they were cis fats—your cells actually become partially hydrogenated! Once in place, trans fatty acids with their misplaced hydrogen atoms wreak havoc in cell metabolism because chemical reactions can only take place when electrons in the cell membranes are in certain arrangements or patterns, which the hydrogenation process has disturbed.

loves2spin said...

In the 1940's, researchers found a strong correlation between cancer and the consumption of fat—the fats used were hydrogenated fats although the results were presented as though the culprit were saturated fats.54 In fact, until recently saturated fats were usually lumped together with trans fats in the various U.S. data bases that researchers use to correlate dietary trends with disease conditions.55 Thus, natural saturated fats were tarred with the black brush of unnatural hydrogenated vegetable oils.

Altered partially hydrogenated fats made from vegetable oils actually block utilization of essential fatty acids, causing many deleterious effects including sexual dysfunction, increased blood cholesterol and paralysis of the immune system.56 Consumption of hydrogenated fats is associated with a host of other serious diseases, not only cancer but also atherosclerosis, diabetes, obesity, immune system dysfunction, low-birth-weight babies, birth defects, decreased visual acuity, sterility, difficulty in lactation and problems with bones and tendons.57 Yet hydrogenated fats continue to be promoted as health foods. The popularity of partially hydrogenated margarine over butter represents a triumph of advertising duplicity over common sense. Your best defense is to avoid it like the plague.

Ok, so now back to the other side of the sandwich...

loves2spin said...

All that being said, we are not without hope! Find some good kettle-rendered lard to use instead of the shortening. Don't buy "partially hydrogenated" lard that they have in some stores. I buy my lard from a place where they actually butcher hogs and render the lard. OR, you can easily render your own if you know someone who is going to butcher a hog.

OR, you can use real butter! Or even coconut oil makes a good crust and is available in most grocery stores. The loveliest coconut oil is available online. I buy extra-virgin from

I used shortening for years and had NO idea I was damaging my health and the health of my loved ones.

Do you know the story of how Crisco became popular and good old-fashioned lard fell out of favor? Here is a really interesting account of how that happened!

I would have not shared any of this except that I felt I had to!

My dad used to tell me not to talk to people about religion or politics. :) To that, I would add "food." Sigh...

debbieo said...


Excellent answer to this post. I agree and have not used shortening for years and years. I was wondering what I could use besides olive oil which is pretty much all I use when I remembered lard. I bought a small container and made a batch of biscuits and they were good. I will now use it for my pie crust. I have always heard lard makes the best pie crust.
I also hope you realize that the article was copied from Hillbilly Housewife.

loves2spin said...

Oh, yes, I saw you got the recipe elsewhere. I am glad to know you don't use shortening! I wish I had known a Long Time Ago, but I didn't. :)