So many people seem really impressed by homemade pie. I suspect this has to do with pie crust. Making traditional crust involves cutting shortening into flour and then gingerly adding liquid until the ingredients just barely stick together. The process is time-consuming and it requires practice to become consistent at creating flaky crust.
I used to make pie crust that way, but I long ago traded in my pastry cutter for an oil-and-milk pie crust recipe. The crust is easy to make, delicious, and flaky. I use it for just about every pie I make.
If you prefer to watch and listen rather than to read, please visit my How To Make Pie Crust: Videos page. Here’s how to make pie crust:
Ingredients for pie crust dough
Lines 2 pans or makes both a top and bottom crust
2 Cups all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon salt
½ cup salad oil (I use Canola)
5 tablespoons milk
The photos and captions explain how to mix the dough and how to use it when assembling a pie. The story begins with the photo at the top of this post.
In a separate container, add the milk to the salad oil but don’t mix them. I measure the oil in a glass liquid measuring cup and leave it there as I spoon the milk into it.
Without stirring the oil and milk (the milk should have sunk to the bottom), pour them into the flour and toss until the flour absorbs the liquid. Don’t over mix.
Compress one dough ball slightly in the center of a piece of wax paper. If the dough ball cracks along its edges, slap, pinch, or otherwise compress the dough to close up the cracks. Place a second piece of wax paper onto the dough.
Roll the dough into a circle about an eighth of an inch thick. You’ll know it’s about right when the circle reaches both edges of the wax paper. I often check by flipping a pie pan onto the dough; I want the dough to stick out an inch and a half all along the rim of a pie pan.
Peel off the top sheet of wax paper then flip the rolled out dough (with the bottom sheet of wax paper attached) over onto a pie pan.
Center the dough on the pan and then peel off the paper. Gently work the dough down the sides of the pan. It’s right when dough conforms to all inner surfaces and still protrudes beyond the edges.
Use a table knife to trim the dough even with the outer edge of the pie pan. When you look at a properly-lined pie pan from above, it looks pretty much like a pan made out of dough. The next step applies only if you’re making a single-crust pie. Custard pies, pudding pies, and meringue pies, for example, typically don’t have top crusts. Go on to the next step if your pie won’t have a top crust; otherwise skip over the next step.
ONLY if you’re making a single-crust pie, flute the edges of the dough. It would be very hard to talk someone through fluting without demonstrating it. I hope the photo makes it clear. I’m pinching the dough against the end of my thumb. I do that once, move my hands one pucker along the rim of the pan, pinch again, and so on until I’ve gotten once around. For a single crust pie, you’ve finished the crust! Your next step could be one of the following:
1. Fill the uncooked pie shell
2. Paint the uncooked pie shell with beaten egg and bake it
3. Simply bake the uncooked pie shell
For a single-crust pie, you’re done! Return to the pie recipe that sent you here in the first place to finish your project.
Because you skipped the preceding step, you must be making a two-crust pie. For most of my two-crust pies, I make a simple lattice crust. That’s what the photos show. The only pie I cover completely is apple, and it never occurred to me to photograph the procedure so here I’m showing you a lattice crust.
Before you start, pour your pie filling into the pie shell. You might heap very dry fillings above the sides of the pie pan but you should keep wetter fillings just below the rim.
To make a lattice-style top crust, roll out the second half of dough as you did the first. However, after you peel away the top sheet of wax paper, leave the dough flat on the counter and cut it into strips about ¾ inch wide. Try to cut 13 or 14 strips though 11 will do. I use a pizza cutter for this. As you create the lattice pattern, you’ll peel the strips off of the wax paper – sliding the tip of a table knife along under a strip will help detach it from the paper without tearing the dough.
Peel strips of dough off the remaining piece of wax paper and lay five of them parallel to each other across the surface of the pie. Each strip should begin and end on the exposed dough on the rim of the pie pan. My photo shows only four strips of dough crossing the pie; that works too. When I cut the strips wide, laying five across just seems like too much. After you’ve run five (or four) parallel strips, rotate the pie and run five (or four) more strips on a bias across the first strips.
Lay dough along the rim of the pie pan, covering the ends of the lattice strips. Usually, the two longest pieces of dough don’t quite make it around and I have to finish with a scrap I cut off when fitting one of the lattice strips. Flute the edges to tie all the dough pieces together. The photo above shows one finger position that works for fluting and if you scroll back three figures you can find the method I prefer. The goal is to pinch the outer lip of dough against your finger or thumb tip and press the trim strip along with coincidental lattice ends into the underlying lower crust. Work all the way around the pie, to create a continuous seal.
With practice, you can prepare and fill a pie crust in about 15 minutes. Prepping the pie filling usually takes more time and effort than making dough and assembling the pie.
If you got to this page by following a link from one of my pie-making articles, find and click the tab for the page from which you came – or close this tab and you should end up back on the original pie-making page.