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How to Make the Perfect Pie Crust

12 of 17 in Series: How to Plan and Shop for a Christmas Open House

Although you can buy ready-made pie crusts, making your own is easy and they’ll taste better too. Use this recipe during the holidays — or any time — for making pies. This recipe can be used for two pumpkin pies or one double crust or apple pie.

Basic Piecrust

Preparation time: 5 minutes

Cooking time: 2 hours chilling time

Yield: 2 piecrusts, enough for one 9-inch deep-dish double-crust pie

2-1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon salt

10 tablespoons (1 stick plus 2 tablespoons) chilled unsalted butter, cut into large pieces

3 ounces (hefty 1/2 cup) chilled shortening

3 to 4 tablespoons ice water

  1. Measure the flour and salt into a mixing bowl and place in the freezer for 15 minutes.

  2. Cut the butter and shortening into tablespoon-sized pieces and scatter over the dry ingredients.

    Cut the butter and shortening into the dry ingredients using a pastry blender or two butter knives until the fats are the size of flat raisins.

    Do not overwork or you’ll end up with a mealy crust.

  3. Sprinkle the water over the flour mixture. Toss with two forks or your fingertips until the dough begins to come together.

  4. Scrape the dough onto a tabletop and knead briefly, just to bring the crust together into a ball.

  5. Divide into two pieces and press into flat disks. Wrap both in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least two hours or overnight.

    The crust may also be frozen for a month and defrosted in the refrigerator overnight. The rest in the refrigerator is necessary to relax the protein, or gluten, in the dough. When you mix the dough, the gluten is activated and the dough is temporarily too tough and springy to roll.

  6. To roll out the dough, lightly flour your work surface and rolling pin. Begin to apply pressure, starting at the center of the dough and rolling towards the top of the circle. Then pick up your pin, place it in the center of the dough, and roll towards the bottom. Do the same for the sides and all the in-between angles. Check to see that the dough remains free from sticking to the work surface by spinning in quarter turns. Keep rolling until the desired size and thickness is reached. A 1/4-inch thickness is standard, if no other thickness is specified.

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