Easy As…Well, You Know

ThanksgivingPie900I have never understood why there is so much fear and anxiety surrounding the preparation of homemade piecrust. When I worked at a food magazine, dealing with piecrust hysteria was always a major part of the holiday issues. Will it be flaky enough? Tender enough? Will it get soggy? If I over-process it for .02 seconds longer than I am supposed to, will it be hopelessly tough and a complete waste of my time?

Everyone just needs to relax. Deep breaths, y’all.

Am I saying this from a place of wise and practiced comfort with the art of pie making? Umm…I’m 24 and I’ve made exactly one piecrust in my life. And guess what? It was fine.

My first pie making experience was last week when Mom and I were testing a recipe for this site, actually. Mom offered to make the crust—she’s Southern, so let’s just say her comfort level with cutting cold fat into flour is high (her biscuits rock!). But I insisted that I needed to do it myself so that I could A. learn, and B. figure out what all the fuss is about.

We got the butter, shortening, and cream cheese really cold. (Her crust uses all three…my, my, hips, you’re looking awfully wide today. But apparently the cream cheese makes it more forgiving.) We got the dry ingredients all measured out, and the ice water prepped. The whole process took approximately 10 minutes and we made enough dough for the pie we made that day, the pies we’ll make for Thanksgiving, and any last minute pie cravings that might sneak up on us during the Christmas season.

Yes, we had a food processor, and she was watching over my shoulder the whole time, but I am here to tell you…there is life on the other side. You, too, can make your own piecrust.

The rest of our pie was a cinch. We cooked down the apples with vanilla, cinnamon, sugar, and a little brandy (yesss!), and we made a quick crumb topping—because I find double crust pies a bit heavy and way less attractive.

So, was my crust sheer, buttery perfection? I don’t even know because the warm apples and crispy crumble topping kept distracting me. But the whole pie was incredible. And I was proud of my crust! It wasn’t tough or soggy and it held up well under the filling.

Give this pie a shot, but if you’re really stressing about the crust part, I’ll tell you a not-so secret. The great and powerful Pam Anderson has officially endorsed the use of Pillsbury refrigerated pie dough.

Cooking for the holidays should be fun. So, if the thought of making your own crust is giving you ulcers, skip it! But if you feel even vaguely drawn to the idea of doing it—go for it! Who cares if you screw up? Theoretically, everyone sitting around the table loves you…except maybe your mother-in-law. So, just pile more ice cream on top. Trust me, no one will care.

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  1. Pam says

    It’s always been fun to cook with you, Sharon, but baking this apple pie together was an especially satisfying project. When you were a kid, you were more interested in eating apple slices, bits of dough, and of course the finished pie. As an adult you were actually intrigued by the process. Why shortening, butter, and cream cheese in the dough; why the apples needed to be cooked first; why I had chosen those flavorings.
    And as much as I thought I knew about apple pie, I learned something new too. I thought that as long as we baked the pie on the bottom oven rack on quarry tiles, the crust would brown. In fact a perfect apple crumb pie needs a pre-baked pie shell.

  2. says

    Sharon, I feel like you wrote this entry just for me. I have such pie crust anxiety! And I do use Pillsbury, but dammit, I want to conquer the real thing. Twice I’ve tried – once using Pioneer Woman’s recipe, and another time using my Nan’s. And get this – Nan cooking with me, and the damn thing failed. She said, and I quote “That’s the first time this has happened to me in all my 75 years!”. Awesome. I kill pie crust with sheer will.

    So maybe I’ll try this one. And maybe I’ll just cry in the corner out of jealousy that it’s come so easily to you. 😉

  3. uncle tony says

    a lot of commentary of late has focused on the use of vodka along with reduced amounts of ice water — glutens do not develop with vodka and it evaperates at lower temp — a thought!

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