My first attempt at making a pie entirely from scratch, a chicken pot pie specifically, was quite the fiasco. Making the filling was no problem. I intended to use store-bought pie crust but my husband really wanted me to make it from scratch too.
Although that chicken pot pie was undoubtedly one of best ones I’ve had, it took me four hours to make from start to finish. I was so confused about how to make the pie crust. Ice water… butter… shortening??? Why is this not coming together??? Do I really need to refrigerate the dough before using it??! I ended up combining methods from two recipes I found on the internet… which is kind of a no-no in baking.
Miraculously the crust and the filling were pure perfection – the roux, diced chicken breasts, peas, carrots, zucchini, mushrooms, and celery all came together nicely atop a tender crust. My husband and I still talk about how great this very pie was to this day.
Since then I’ve practiced making more pies, growing more and more in love with the craft of pie-making.
I’m not kidding when I say I’ve made lots of pies, both savoury and sweet.
Early in my pie-making exploits, I would use store-bought pie mixes or ready-made pie crusts, but my husband complains that they are too salty or too greasy. Since finding this recipe for homemade dough, I’ve never looked back. You just need a pastry blender (see below for a picture – it was like $2 at my local discount store) and a rolling pin. This recipe produces an easy-to-roll, tender pie crust. It is NOT super flaky, however. Flaky pie crusts are too greasy for me with all the butter that goes into them. I don’t like the texture either.
Pies are quite laborious but rewarding and easy to make. Like the old saying goes…
Trust me – you can do it!!!
Fool-proof, perfect pie crust
Makes 4 (9-inch) pie crusts
- 5 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling
- 1 tsp salt
- 2 1/4 cups COLD butter-flavoured vegetable shortening (Crisco is the best and the only one I use)
- 1 large egg
- 2 tbsp vinegar
- 1 cup COLD water, minus 2 tbsp (I put it in the freezer 30 minutes before use)
- Equipment: pastry blender, rolling pin
1. In a large mixing bowl, stir together the flour and salt. Mix the shortening into the flour with a pastry blender (though it’s possible to do this with a fork, it’s very frustrating and time consuming). Add the egg and mix by hand for a few minutes.
2. Stir the vinegar into the measuring cup with the water. Slowly pour the liquid into the bowl, stirring with a fork. Stir for 2 to 3 minutes to blend everything.
3. Divide the dough into 4 parts. Wrap any pieces that you aren’t using in plastic wrap and refrigerate them for up to 2 to 3 days. (I divided the dough in three parts below because I was using the big one for an entirely different pie. I refrigerated the ones I was using as I was baking the pie the next day, divided 60/40 as I was making a lattice pie crust. If using immediately, refrigerate them at least 30 minutes before use.)
Now’s a good time to work on your pie filling! I made a peach pie last Thanksgiving.
4. Sprinkle flour on a clean countertop and put down a piece of dough. Sprinkle the dough with flour, and with a rolling pin, roll the dough to about 1/8 inch thick, to fit the pie pan you are using. (For a 9-inch pan, roll the dough to a circle about 12 inches in diameter.) Fit the crust into the pan and gently press it down to fit. Roll as many pie crusts as you need, flouring the counter each time.
5. Decorate your pie if you’d like! This is my favourite part. My favourite decoration is the lattice top. It’s sosososoooo easy to do and produces a stunning effect.
I wanted to add more flair to my pie and was inspired by this:
6. Brush the pie with a light, even coat of egg wash (see my photo for my blueberry pie above – on the sides there are little egg pools… I obviously didn’t do a great job there). I always brush my pies with an entire egg for a golden brown, matte finish. Though the type of wash depends on what kind of finish you want, I don’t like wasting or keeping egg yolks or whites. If you are making a two-crust pie and it’s not with a lattice top, pierce air holes or cut slits on the top crust for air to circulate.
7. IMPORTANT: Cover the outer edges of the pie with aluminum foil. Trust me – the outer edges of the pie will burn otherwise. If your recipe calls for the pie crust to be already baked, baked at 350ºF for 25 minutes. Otherwise, follow the recipe instructions for baking.
And there you have it! Like Rodney from Food Network Star, let’s get pie style!
My pies look better than his though 😃