In searching for some of my pie recipes on my computer, I came across this little outline of instructions for basic pie making. I couple years ago I had the idea to teach a homemaking class to young girls. It was called “Domestic Divas”. It was fun! I had about 8 girls between the ages of 9 and 14. I would spend about 2 hours every other week teaching them a homemaking skill. One of the classes we did was on pie making. You should have seen my kitchen after we were done! But I have since heard of some of those girls making pies for their families for Thanksgiving! That makes me so happy!
I thought I would just copy and paste what I gave out to the girls. Hope it is helpful to some of you who don’t really know how to make pie.
Pie Making 101
- Rolling pin
- Measuring cups (liquid and solid)
- Measuring spoons
- Mixing bowls
Pastry cutter or 2 knives
- Pie plates
- Pastry brush
- Pastry wheel for pretty lattice or pizza cutter or sharp knife
Types of Pies:
- Fruit pie (apple, peach, berry, pear, rhubarb, etc.)
- Custard pies (pumpkin, pecan, cream, lemon meringue)
- Pudding pies (made with pudding and not baked)
- Savory pies (chicken pot pie)
Types of Crusts:
- Pie pastry (roll out)
- Cookie crusts (press in)
- Crumb crusts (on top)
- Lattice pastry
Flour, salt, sugar (optional), fat (shortening or butter or both), ice water, sometimes egg or vinegar
When making pie pastry it is essential to use cold ingredients. The flakiness comes from the layers of fat and flour. If your fat gets too warm it will all blend together with the flour and you won’t have little pieces that get smashed down with flour in between. Without these layers your crust will be more tough and less flaky. Shortening is the fat that works best for flakiness, while butter gives the crust a yummier flavor. I like to use butter flavor Crisco. You can also use half butter, half Crisco, but in my experience this makes the crust very fragile and difficult to roll out. It tastes yummy though!
When working with pie pastry you want to handle the dough as little as possible. This keeps the cold ingredients cold and prevents over mixing of the flour and fat. You want to work as quickly as you can. Once you get the dough made, flatten it somewhat, wrap it in plastic wrap and chill it in the fridge for about 30 minutes. If you let it chill too long it will get too hard to roll out and you will need to let it warm up a bit before rolling it out. When rolling it out, be sure you don’t let it stick to the board. You will need to use flour to keep it from sticking to the board and your rolling pin. You want to roll the crust out so it is 4” wider than the pie pan. Once you get it big enough you can fold it in fourths to put it into the dish, or you can roll it up on your rolling pin and transfer it to the pan.
Fill the shell with the filling. Then place your top crust on. Using kitchen shears or a knife, cut both crusts about ¾” longer than the pan and roll them under, pressing together to seal the pie edge. Then make the edge look pretty.
Brush the crust with milk or cream and sprinkle with sugar if you want. Be sure to cut some slits to vent the pie so the steam can escape. You can also use little cookie cutters to cut out shapes before you put the crust on. You can use a fork to make holes in a decorative way. Or you can just make slits with a sharp knife. Cover the edges with foil to prevent over browning. Remove half way through baking.
Fruit pies need to bubble in the middle to be done. Fruit should be tender. Look at the crust underneath to make sure it looks like it is cooked, and no longer doughy. Cool your pie on a wire rack to help keep the crust from being soggy.
Custard pies do not usually have a top crust. Place bottom curst in pan and trim about 3/4” longer than pan. Roll extra underneath and flute the edge. Cover the edge with foil to avoid over browning. Pour in filling and bake. If you want, you can place the crust on the oven rack and then pour your filling in to avoid spilling during transport. Custard pies are done when only a small part in the center still moves when you shake it and a knife inserted a couple inches from the center comes out clean.
Pudding pies are very easy to make. Just make sure you give yourself enough time because they need to chill. You can find many recipes for them at www.kraftfoods.com. They are usually made with a cookie crust. You can make your own or buy one at the store.