Sweet & savory country cooking from my table to yours!


Pie Crust 101

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Okay…let’s talk about pie crust.  There are so many different types of great pie crust recipes to choose from when baking.   We all have our favorites, and sometimes a particular pie crust goes best with a certain pie filling.  For example, I might decide I want to make a cream cheese pie crust to pair with a strawberry glaze pie, or a fresh herb crust to pair with a chicken pot pie.  Well anyhow, there’s plenty of options for pie crusts.  Okay, just for the sake of assumption here….I’m going to assume that you’ve never rolled out a pie crust before, so I’m going to be quite descriptive here if that’s okay….are you ready!  Let’s talk pie crust…

Okay….before you make a pie crust, you must make sure you have the correct kitchen tools necessary for the job.

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The first two things you will need are a rolling pin and a pastry blender.  Both of these items are fairly inexpensive…

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The next thing you need is some regular aluminum foil, (not heavy duty) and perhaps a pie crust shield, but if you don’t have a pie crust shield, you can make do with just using the foil.

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Last but not least, you need a pie dish to make the pie in….you need to check your pie recipe to see what size pie dish you need to use.  This is important, and I see so many recipes where the size is listed, for example,use a 9″ pie dish, but the author doesn’t mention whether it’s a “shallow” or “deep dish” pie dish.  This is an important factor when making a pie.  See my post on Choosing the right pie dish.  

I’m going to demonstrate how to make pie crust by using my favorite recipe, Aunt Elsie’s Flaky Pie Crust.

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Okay, the first thing you wanna do is pour some flour in a bowl and add a little salt…mix it together…

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Now you’re gonna add some solid shortening to the flour….I always use Crisco.  Not all solid shortenings are the same.

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Now using your pastry blender, (or you can use a fork if you don’t have a pastry blender), start cutting through the shortening and cutting it into the flour…..

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You’re gonna keep cutting the shortening into the flour until it finally resembles the size of peas…

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Now you’re gonna add in some ice water….

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Now mix it just until it comes together, sort of like soft pliable play dough…don’t over mix it…that’s what makes tough dough.

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Now at this point, you can do one of two things….you can just dust some flour onto a counter top, or if you haven’t had much practice at making pie crust, you might want to place a large piece of wax paper on a counter and dust it with flour.  Either way will work.  Okay, we’ll say you’re gonna use wax paper.   Place a large piece of wax paper on a counter top.  Now sprinkle the paper with some flour….

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Okay, you’re doing great so far…now take about half of your dough and form it into a disc.  Lay it on the floured wax paper and slightly flatten it with the palm of your hand….

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Now sprinkle a little flour over the dough…

flakypiecrust - 3 (1)Now place a second piece of wax paper over top of the pie dough….you’re doing great….

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Now starting from the center, gently start rolling the pie dough out with a rolling-pin, using less weight on the rolling-pin as you get closer to the edge.  Each time you make one roll from the center to the edge, slightly rotate the pie crust, wax paper and all to the right.  Ok….don’t expect to roll out some perfect shaped crust.  If you do that’s great, but if you don’t that’s fine too.  The most important thing here is making sure that the crust is rolled out a couple of inches bigger in diameter than the pie dish you are using.  I use to try to roll out the perfect round piece of pie dough….anymore I don’t really care as long as I know that the finished diameter is as big as I need it to be.  It’s gonna be trimmed and folded under anyway.  That being said…you might roll out a much rounder neater looking piece of pie dough than I do.

flakypiecrust - 5 (1)When you’ve rolled the dough out as big as you need it, gently peel the top piece of wax paper off of the dough…

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Now if for some reason the dough looks slightly sticky….at this point just dust the top of the dough very lightly with flour.

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Okay, I know I didn’t show the best picture here….but you wanna pick up the pie dough including the paper, and invert the dough into a pie dish….remember this is thinly rolled pie crust, that’s why it looks so messy or funky looking for a better word, when you invert it.  Okay, now gently pick the paper up with the pie dough under it.  Straighten out the wax paper, pulling it towards you, then gently peel the paper off of the dough.

flakypiecrust - 9Now don’t worry about the way the edges look…you’re gonna trim them off and fold the remainder under…

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Now using scissors, trim the edges of the crust to about a 1/2″ to 3/4″ over hang…

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Now working around the edges, fold the pie crust under as you go around the entire pie shell…

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Now you can use your fingers and flute the edges of the crust the way you want…if you are pouring a pie filling in the pie shell and baking the pie filling in the pie shell…you will want to leave the pie shell as is, like the picture above….now to flute the edges…. such as in the picture below for example…(I will show a video in the near future, demonstrating this), use your thumb and forefinger from your left hand and gently push inward on the edge of the dough, while using your thumb or fore finger from your right hand and gently pushing outward between the thumb and forefinger from your left hand.  Do this around the entire pie shell. 

flakypiecrust - 14 (1)If your recipes states to “blind” or “par” bake the empty crust by itself in an oven before pouring the filling in it, you will want to use a fork and prick the insides and the bottom of the crust to prevent the empty crust from puffing up while it is baking.  This is called docking.  You will also use pie weights for this….see below…

flakypiecrust - 11 (1)Pie weights (pictured on the left) and dried beans (pictured on the right) are both used to place in empty pie shells to keep the shells from puffing up while baking….

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flakypiecrust - 10 (1)Place either a piece of parchment paper or thin (not heavy) foil inside of the empty pie shell, after you have pricked it with a fork.  Now fill the paper or foil with the dried beans or pie weights.  Bake for about 20 minutes in a 400 degree oven, carefully remove the pie weights or beans and the foil or paper.  Bake the pie shell for an additional 10 minutes or until the crust is a light golden brown.  Fill the baked pie shell with your favorite pie filling.  

Note:  Empty pie shells are pre baked in the oven when the filling recipe calls for cooking the filling on top of the stove versus baking it in the oven.  An example would be coconut cream, lemon meringue, or butterscotch pie.  These pie fillings get cooked on the stove top and poured into a pre baked pie shell.

Now if you don’t prefer using wax paper to roll out your pie dough….the second option is to….

flakypiecrust - 18roll the dough out onto a floured surface….

flakypiecrust - 8roll the dough up around your rolling-pin….

flakypiecrust - 38then unroll it from the rolling-pin into the pie dish.  There’s also a third option for placing the pie dough into the pie dish which I do not have pictured here…fold the dough in half, then in half again…place the pointed end of the dough in the center of the pie dish and then unfold it.

Now, let’s talk about how to make a double pie crust for pies that require a pie crust on top as well, such as when you make a fruit pie…

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First you’re gonna roll out the pie crust for the pie dish as demonstrated above.  Make sure you don’t prick it with a fork…  add your fruit filling.  Trim the crust to about a 1/2 inch over hang.  You can fold it under if you want but it’s not necessary, because you’ll be folding it under after you place the top crust on.

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Now you’re gonna place the top crust over the fruit filling.

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Now using some kitchen scissors or a sharp knife, you wanna trim the crust to about a 1/2″ over hang.

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Now you’re gonna overlap the top crust edges over the bottom crust edges.  Slightly press the two together…forming one solid edge….

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Now you’re gonna flute the edges or form them however you want to…

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Now next you need to cut a few slits in the top crust to allow steam to escape…If you don’t, the top crust will puff up and we don’t want that to happen….

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Now you don’t have to do this next step, but I definitely do….Take an egg yolk and whisk in a little water.  Now brush it lightly over the top crust.  See Pie Crust Washes to pick your own favorite pie wash…

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Now lightly sprinkle some sugar over the egg wash….this is going to make a sparkling shiny top crust when it bakes…

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Now, after all of your hard work, you know you don’t want the edges of your crust to get over browned.  Do you? No, you don’t….so now you’re gonna tear off some strips of foil about 2″ in width.  Don’t make the strips too long. I’ll stop and give you a tip here.  Don’t use heavy-duty foil…use regular foil… it is thinner and much easier to bend and work with.  Now place the pieces around the edges of your crust.  I use my forefinger and slightly push into the grooves in the crust.  

doublepiecrust101 - 14Now, if you wanna make double sure that the foil is not going to fall off of the crust after you place the pie in the oven, you can place a pie shield on top of the foil.  

Update:  See my latest tip below for placing foil around your pie crust edges…


Tear off strips of foil that are at least 2 inches wide.  Try to use flimsy, not heavy duty foil.  Place them around the edges of the pie crust and staple the ends together.  With this method the foil will not fall off and will stay secure…where you put it.


Slightly fold the foil inward.  This method is so easy and does not mess up the edges of the crust.  

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doublepiecrust101 - 1 (2)The problem I have with pie shields when using them alone…and I’ve tried them all…is that they might fit one of my pie dishes but not the other 8 or 9.  Then when they don’t work and my pie crust gets too brown on one side, I feel like throwing the shield as a frisbee across the kitchen…if ya know what I mean…

Now if you find yourself wondering what pie dish to use go to my Choosing The Right Pie Dish  post, and for a flaky pie crust recipe go to my Aunt Elsie’s Flaky Pie Crust recipe.



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