This should count as three recipes!! So three down and a dozen or so to go!!
My Best Pie Crust Recipe
I have used numerous basic pie crust recipes but this one is perfect. No-fail. Works every time. As far as a basic unsweetened crust good for general pie making…you won’t do better than this one! It can be prebaked for cream pies or used unbaked for filled pies. I even use it for chicken pot pie.
This recipe makes enough dough for 4 9” pie shell bottoms for cream or meringue pies or two pies with top and bottom crusts such as an apple pie.
3 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp salt
1 cup shortening (you can substitute lard, butter or combination of the three solid fats)
1/3 to 1/2 cup cold water
1 TBSP vinegar
1 egg, beaten
There are 4 necessary ingredients in a standard piecrust: flour, fat, liquid, and salt. Flour is necessary to form the structure and bulk of the crust; fat to add moisture and to help keep the crust flaky; liquid to keep the dough somewhat pliable; and salt to enhance the flavor and brown the crust.
When making pie crust, chill the shortening and water before beginning. Chilling will prevent the fat pieces from dissolving into the flour. Stir the flour and salt together in a large bowl. Cut the chilled shortening into the dry mixture using a pastry cutter or by pinching the fat into the mixture with your hands. The resulting mixture should have fat lumps no smaller than peas.
Add the vinegar to the chilled water. Slightly beat the egg and mix with the water/vinegar. Pour the chilled water mixture, a small amount at a time, into the dry mixture; mixing gently with a fork until the dough is wet enough to be packed into a ball. The dough should be handled as little as possible to prevent the blending of all of the fat lumps, as a crust with no fat lumps will be dense and hard.
Split the dough into 4 equal amounts, roll them into balls and wrap them in plastic before placing them in the refrigerator to chill for at least 30 minutes. Chilling will prevent the fat from absorbed by the flour and give a lighter texture to the crust when it is baked.
Generously dust a clean, dry surface with flour and remove one of the packages of dough from the refrigerator. Flatten the dough slightly and dust the dough’s top before rolling the dough out with a rolling pin. Start rolling at the center of the dough and work outwards. Some people prefer do this between sheets of waxed paper or plastic wrap because it makes clean up and rolling easier. Quickly roll the dough into a circle 1/4 or 1/8 inch thick. The size of the circle should be about four inches wider in diameter than the pie pan.
A trick for getting the dough positioned in the pan correctly is to fold the dough in half and then into quarters. Gently pick it up and place it into the pan so that the center point is in the center of the pan. Unfold the dough into the pan and it should be perfectly centered. If the dough cracks a little during this process, press it back together with your fingers or patch the cracks with a bit of dough from the outer edges. Gently press the pie crust into the pie pan, careful not to press the dough to thin. Cut the pie crust just slightly larger than the pan, and crimp the edges—will try to get a picture tutorial up on this later.
At this point you can fill your crust according to your recipe or you might want to consider freezing the crusts for later use. I roll out my circles place them individually between sheets of waxed paper and gently fold in fourths. I then place them carefully in zipper plastic bags and lie flat to freeze. When a crust is needed, take it out leave it in the bag to come to room temperature and then proceed with recipe.
When baking my pie crust, I line it with parchment and add pie weights to keep the bottom from bubbling and buckling.
If something isn’t clear just ask!!
in a heavy saucepan
- 1 baked pie crust (bake the crust at 425 until beginning to brown)
- 1 1/2 cup sugar
- 4 TBSP cornstarch
- 1 small can flaked coconut
- 3 TBSP butter
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 1 1/2 cups milk, evaporated milk, half n half or any combination of these
- 3 egg yolks (the egg whites can be used for your meringue)
Mix sugar and cornstarch until completely blended. Add milk slowly and mix completely with a wire whisk. Cook, stirring continuously, over low heat until it begins to thicken. Take out a little warm filling and add to your egg yolks and mix WELL. Pour this back into your saucepan. When filling gets thick add butter and whip with your whisk until it is melted. When your filling is sufficently thick, add vanilla and coconut (reserving 1 TBSP coconut to sprinkle on meringue). Top hot filling with meringue (recipe below), sprinkle with remaining coconut. Bake at 425 until coconut is toasted and peaks of meringue are browning.
My Perfect Meringue
Use a clean, dry bowl. The bowl must be grease free, because any amount of fat will wreck a meringue. Glass, ceramic, stainless steel, and copper bowls are all suitable. Plastic bowls may appear clean, but may still have trace amounts of oil; do not use them. Cold eggs separate easily, but eggs whip to a higher volume when at room temperature. The solution is to separate the cold eggs, this is solved by separating the eggs for your pie filling and letting the whites come to room temperature. Separate each egg into two small bowls, one for the white and one for the yolk, and then add the white portion to the larger bowl. This allows you to reserve any with broken yolks for another purpose. Even a small amount of yolk can deflate the egg whites, so be careful.
Many people have great success using cream of tartar, white vinegar, or lemon juice to stabilize the meringue. I personally use cream of tartar. Add 1/8 teaspoon of one of these per egg white to the unbeaten eggs. If you are using a copper bowl to whip the egg whites in the addition is not necessary. Whip to medium soft peaks. Beat in 2 tablespoons white sugar per egg white. Continue to beat until egg whites are glossy and hold a firm peak. Spread meringue over piping hot filling, and spread to the edges to seal. Hot filling is necessary to insure that the inside of the meringue cooks, preventing weeping. The preferred baking method is one that combines high temperatures with a short baking time. This prevents overcooking the outside, and thus beading is avoided.
Bake at 425 degrees F for 4 to 5 minutes. Or until peaks are browning and coconut is toasted.