Saturday, November 12, 2016

A two-crust pie-making tutorial

I was my turn to bring dessert to our weekly potluck. I decided to make pies because they're quick and easy. Then I decided to slow down and take photos along the way, because it occurred to me not everyone finds pie-making to be quick and easy.

I don't profess to be the greatest or most creative pie-maker in the world; but I enjoy making them and prefer homemade to store-bought pies any day.

So without further ado, here's a fast tutorial on making a two-crust fruit pie.

I usually use the recipe from my faithful Better Homes & Gardens cookbook.

I doubled the recipe since I was making two pies. Flour and salt are already in the bowl, and I'm getting ready to measure the lard.

Whenever I measure anything hydrophobic such as lard, butter, peanut butter, etc., I use the displacement method: Fill a measuring cup with one cup of water, then put in the ingredient until the water reaches the required measurement. This is a lot less messy and more accurate than trying to cram the lard into a measuring cup by itself.

Once the lard is in the flour, I use a pastry blender to mix it up.

Next I drizzle in water until the dough holds together. I start with a fork but usually graduate to using my hands at the end.

The dough is now ready to roll out. Because I was making two pies, I divided this dough in half; then from each half, I used about 2/3 for the pie bottom and 1/3 for the pie top.

I think a lot of people have trouble at this stage because they don't have enough flour on the breadboard. Don't be afraid to add enough flour to keep the dough from sticking, either to the breadboard or the rolling pin.

I start by shaping the dough roughly in a flat circle...

...and then rolling it thin.

Here's a quick and easy tip to get the rolled-out dough from the breadboard to the pie pan: roll it loosely onto the rolling pin. Then you can "unroll" it over the pie pan.

This leaves a lot of excess dough around the edges... time to trim. I like to leave about an inch, no more.

The extra dough, of course, gets folded in with the rest of the dough.

Here the two pie bottoms are ready, and there's enough dough left in the bowl for the pie tops. Time for the filling.

I decided to use some of the blueberries I canned up in September.

An advantage of home-canned fruit is that it's, well, fruit. One time I bought a can of "blueberry filling" and found it had about six blueberries in it. Blech.

The pie pans I was using were on the larger side, so I used three pints for each pie. Here the berries are drained.

The cookbook gives the recommended amount of sugar and flour to add to the fruit, though I usually cut back on the sugar.

Sugar and flour added...

...and mixed.

Into the pie pans. This is the stage where the pies start looking, well, pretty.

Now it's time to roll out the pie tops. I divided the remaining dough in half and rolled it into a circle roughly the size of the pie pan...

...then "rolled" the dough onto the rolling pin, and "unrolled" it over the pan.

Repeat for the second pie.

I don't bother trimming the excess dough at this stage, since I don't mind a "thick" pie crust. Instead I just roll the bottom over the top and pinch it all together. If you prefer not to have such a thick crust, then by all means trim off the excess dough before rolling and pinching.

Almost done.

Don't forget to prick the top with a fork!

I usually lightly brush the top with milk. It seems to make for a slightly crisper crust.

I used to use aluminum foil around the edges to keep them from burning, but a couple years ago I found these gizmos called Talisman pie shields . Wow, worth every penny; they work perfectly.

Then into the oven for about an hour. The pie shields come off about half-way through baking.

Voila, two finished pies.

I also whipped some cream before the potluck as well. Yum.

So that's your pie tutorial du jour. Happy baking!


  1. Oh boy! I'm glad you posted this. I use the same cookbook! I have a question about mixing. How long would you say you spend cutting in the lard? I know the recipe says to go till it looks like small peas. But my crust never turns out so good and I'm thinking it is the time cutting in the lard.

    1. It usually takes a few minutes to cut the lard in. When in doubt, go longer. I also spent years (before I discovered pastry blender) cutting in the lard (or butter or margarine or whatever) with my hands, so go with what's comfortable.

      - Patrice

    2. If you don't have a pastry blender, yet, use two butter knives crisscrossing. My recipe makes a bit more crust and I use the extra to make cinnamon sticks for snacks. Roll out, brush with butter or margarine, sprinkle on sugar and cinnamon and bake for about 7 minutes until they turn light brown and usually puff up. Let cool and enjoy.

  2. Great - just great....
    Now I'm hungry.. B-)

  3. What lovely pies! I too use the better homes and garden cookbook. Thanks for the tips - shows you can still learn something after 40 years of pie making! Greg in Kansas

  4. Thanks for posting this excellent How-to. Please do more like it so I can send them to the millenials in my family that think a spatula is for picking up puppy poop.--ken

  5. I agree with the folding the bottom crust over the top crust. Keeps any bubbling juices in the pie instead of on the oven floor.

  6. Those look delicious, just like my Grandma used to make. Way better than store bought!

  7. Thank you so much for NOT doing lemon meringue or I'd have gotten completely starving and had to go make one for myself. I can resist blueberry but never lemon meringue.

  8. I have tried a dozen times with a variety of recipes to make pie crust to no avail. Now I purchase frozen Marie Calendars pie crusts. Less grief and very tasty, too.

  9. Yum! Homemade goodness. You can't beat that.

  10. Thank you very much, that was really useful.

  11. Growing up, with any extra pie crust dough, my Mum would roll it out square shaped, sprinkle sugar and cinnamon on it and roll it up and slice it into one inch increments, lay each on their side in a pie pan and bake. They looked like little cinnamon rolls and would tide us over until supper when we could eat the pie. Yum! Thank you for sharing your skills in all things good!

  12. What edition or year of publication is your Better Homes and Gardens New Cook Book? I would like to get a copy.

  13. Pies are our favorite dessert. Over the years I have tried lard, coconut oil and butter to replace shortening (Crisco) which I know is not healthy. BUT I can never get a flaky crust without Crisco. Any suggestions? Love the articles. We're raising another generation of pie makers (daughters and sons) that can cook from scratch! Yum!

  14. Oh, yes! Pie crust cookies!! Yay!!!!!!!

  15. When I was a kid my dad was the baker in our family, and he made terrific pies! Apple, cherry and pumpkin were my favorites. Except for one thing: his crust was a bit hard and bitter. My wife is also a terrific baker and her pies are the best, especially her crust! Years ago I asked her why her crust tasted so good. She said she keeps her hands out of the dough as much as possible (my dad hand-mixed everything) and she uses the same recipe as Patrice, but with one more ingredient: sugar. She adds a tablespoon of sugar for each pie crust. What a difference that makes! --Fred in AZ