HOW TO MAKE THE PERFECT PIE CRUST
Cold ingredients and limited handling are the key to preparing a wonderful pie crust.
FATS: Fat and vegetable shortening must be chilled prior to use. If it is too warm, the flour will absorb too much of the fat and produce a tough crust. If using butter or margarine, cut into small pieces prior to adding to the flour.
LIQUIDS: Liquids should be well chilled (actually liquids should be ice cold). The mixing after water is added is critical in making a pie dough - water should be added gradually to the dry ingredients and not all at once. Mix by hand with your fingers or a pastry blender Use a minimum amount of liquid and handle the dough as little as possible. Overworking the dough will make it tough. NOTE: If too much water is added, the dough will have to be mixed with more flour thus becoming overworked and tough. If too little water is added, it will cause a dry crumbly dough with poor handling qualities.
HINTS & TIPS: If you roll out the dough on wax paper or parchment paper, it makes cleanup easier. To keep wax paper from slipping, sprinkle a few drops of water on the countertop before arranging the paper.
* Use a glass pie plate or a dull metal pie plate for making pies. The shiny metal pans keep the crust from browning properly. If using a glass pie plate, reduce the oven temperature by 25 degrees. Do not oil or grease pie plates. Always make deep slits in the top crust of fruit pie. If you do not do this, the filling will be soft and soggy. To prevent the crust from getting too dark, you can cover it with a strip of aluminum foil or a pie shield. You also have the option of reducing the oven temperature if you notice things getting too dark. * To prevent sliding, first line the dough with aluminum foil. Take a piece of foil long enough so that when folded in half, it covers the pie plate. Fold it in half, then shape it on the counter by pressing your hand down in the middle and pulling up on the sides (making sort of a bowl shape.) Now put the foil in your pie shell and gently press it so that it evenly covers the bottom and sides of the pie dough. Now put your pie weights in - you can use beans, rice, rock salt -- virtually any small, heat-proof items to weigh the crust down so that it neither puffs up nor slides down. Bake it in the preheated oven for about 10 minutes. Take out the foil and pie weights, and continue baking until lightly browned. Alternately, if you are using metal pie plates, you can line one pan with dough, lightly dust the dough with flour, then place a second pie plate on top of the dough. Invert the pans and bake upside-down for about 10 minutes. Carefully flip the pans over, and remove the top pie plate, then continue baking until lightly browned. * Cool baked pies on a wire rack set on the counter. The rack allows air to circulate under the pie, preventing it from becoming soggy from the steam remaining it in.
HIGH-ALTITUDE BAKING: When making pies at high altitudes, pie crusts are not greatly affected. A slight increase in liquid may help keep them from becoming dry. Use as little flour as possible when rolling out the dough.