For Pie Lovers: Six steps to make an excellent crust

In response to The Daily Post’s weekly photo challenge: “Treat.”

A couple years ago I was struggling with a pie crust, when my daughter frowned over my shoulder and asked — why aren’t you using your no-fail recipe?


I’d given her the recipe, then forgot all about it. She dug it out, saving the day. It worked. But — does it pass muster in the real world of pie-making, or do I like it because I can manage to roll it out?

We Epicureans decided to test my no-fail version against two other crusts.

Added the crust bake-off to our pumpkin carving party.

Here are the contenders (recipes below):

  • JBW’s “no-fail” crust
  • Bev’s Martha Stewart video-inspired recipe. According to Martha, a five-year-old could do it. We’ll see.
  • Beckie, our amazingly talented cook and baker, tried a new recipe, rather than her standard part-butter, part-Crisco version.
Ready, set …

Two rules for pie crust:

  1. Use cold ingredients.
  2. Don’t fuss. Work quickly.

Here’s how it went:

Step one — cut up cold butter:

Beckie’s butter

Step 2: add salt and flour, cut butter into flour until butter is in pea-sized bits.

Beckie uses a food processor.



Step 3: Add liquids. Toss with fingers or fork, just until dough holds together in a ball. Might not need all the liquid called for.

The face of the Virgin Mary appears on my dough ball. Or maybe a zombie. A good omen, surely.

Step. 4: wrap dough in air-tight plastic or container. Refrigerate at least fifteen minutes, or put in freezer for a shorter time.

While the crust is chilling out, prepare the filling.

Bev attached this cool apple slicer to my KitchenAid mixer.
Another tip from Bev: use a melon baller to core.
No gadgets for Julie. Just hack away with peeler and paring knife. None of those price stickers made it into the filling. Honest.

Step 5: Roll

Beckie & Bev roll dough on a pastry cloth. Doesn’t need as much flour to keep from sticking. It’s good if butter bits show.
Julie dips hands in cold water to gather the dough, uses lots of flour and rolls out on counter-top. Phew. Made it in one piece. No visible butter bits though.
Bev prepares strips for her woven top.

Step 5: Bake

Beckie’s pear-cranberry pie topped with walnuts and caramel sauce
Bev’s apple pie on the left. Note how her KitchenAid-sliced apples fill the crust. Julie’s thicker-sliced apples settled, leaving the woven top suspended over the top. Like the Super Dome.

Step 6: Let cool. If pie is too hot, juices are runny.

Cheers. On the left, sample crusts with cinnamon and sugar, ready for taste testing.

Drum roll. And the winner is …

Martha Stewart. My crust was pretty good, but — Bev’s was best, just the right amount of crispy and flaky. Beckie swears her crust was a disaster, although it actually was delicious. Nevertheless, she’s withholding the recipe, and going back to her standard.


Notes: 1. Because our bottom crusts were soggy, Beckie advises that next time, Bev and I use a lower rack in the oven. 2. Bev didn’t like how tightly packed her KitchenAid-sliced apples were, and will hand-slice in the future. 3. Beckie’s pear and cranberry filling was out of this world. Hoping she’ll divulge the recipe in a future post. 


UnknownBev’s: 2 sticks (one cup) unsalted butter, 2 cups flour, 1 teaspoon salt, 1/4 cold milk with 1/4 ice water.

imagesJulie’s: 1 stick (1/2 cup) butter, 1 1/2 cups flour, 3/4 teaspoon salt, 2 teaspoons milk, 1/4 teaspoon vinegar, 1/4 cup ice water, or less

Have funny pie-making stories to share? A no-fail recipe of your own? If  it’s not trademarked, leave it in the comments for us. We might have to keep experimenting, since Beckie now wants a retrial with her standard. Happy baking.


5 thoughts on “For Pie Lovers: Six steps to make an excellent crust

    1. Couldn’t swear to this, but a certain 2011 King Estate Pinot supplied by Bev might, if it happened to appear again, be a key to the recipe lock box. I believe the adjective Beckie used to describe it was luscious.


  1. Pingback: Visit from summer | Epicurean Eugene

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