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How to make the perfect pie crust for holiday pies

It is a hotly debated topic among holiday hostesses – make your own piecrust or take advantage of store bought? Sure, time is short around the holidays, but if you’re making every other Thanksgiving or Christmas dish from scratch, you don’t want to present dessert in an unremarkable, industrial tasting piecrust. Here are a few no-fail tips to easily – and expertly – make pie crust like a pro.

Apple Pie

Tips to make a perfect pie crust

Pie crusts are quite simple to make. In fact they only contain four essential ingredients: flour, a fat (usually butter, shortening, or lard), a liquid (typically ice cold water or milk), salt, and sugar (optional ingredient for sweet pies).

1. Keep ingredients cold

For the tenderest, flakiest crusts — and a dough that is easy to work with – the fat and liquid ingredients should be chilled. Cold butter and shortening won’t meld into the flour like soft or melted butter, which will create a fine flaky crust.

2. Work fast

To achieve that coveted flaky texture, work quickly to get ingredients mixed before the fat gets warm. A food processor is ideal because it effortlessly cuts fat into the flour and minimizes the time you work with the dough (too much handling will cause a tough crust).

3. Cut fat into flour to create a coarse meal

Slice cold butter or shortening into small pieces and use the food processor, pastry cutter, two butter knives or your finger tips to cut fat into flour. There should actually be pea-sized lumps (pieces of fat coated with flour) in the flour mixture that will ultimately result in a fantastic flaky crust.

4. Finding the right fat

Deciding which fat to use is purely up to you. Typically, butter makes a tastier crust whereas shortening makes a crust that turns out flakier. You can use a combination of both butter and shortening to get the best attributes of both.

5. Chill the dough

After the dough is formed, let it rest for at least 30 minutes in the refrigerator to help chill the fat. Then let the dough warm up for just a few minutes before rolling.

6. The way you roll

You need to roll the dough on a lightly floured flat surface, working quickly to keep the dough cold. Putting the dough between wax paper or plastic wrap can help prevent sticking, or you can just add flour to keep the dough from sticking — but don’t add too much because you will end up with a tough, dry crust. Roll the dough from the middle out, turning it in quarter turns as you roll, until it is about 1/4-inch thick. To transfer dough to the pie plate without stretching or tearing it, gently fold circle in half then into quarters and move it to the center of the pie plate.

7. Lining the pie plate

Gently unfold dough once it is the pie plate and gently pat the dough down to conform to the bottom and sides of the plate, leaving an overhang to make a fluted edge.

8. Make a decorative edge

To make a decorative edge around the pie, take two fingers from one hand and place them on the edge of the crust a few centimeters apart, use your index finger from the other hand and push it between the other two making a hump in the dough. Continue doing this until the whole edge is formed. Now you can simply fill the dough with your favorite holiday pie filling, bake in the oven and present the perfect holiday pie.

Perfect Pie Crust

Makes 1 pie crust Ingredients:
1 cup all-purpose flour plus more for rolling
1/2 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons chilled butter, cut into small pieces
2 tablespoons chilled lard or shortening, cut into small pieces
1/4 cup ice water Directions:
1. Combine flour and salt in a food processor and pulse 3 to 4 times. Add butter and pulse 5 to 6 times — texture should resemble coarse meal. Add in lard and pulse 3 to 4 more times. 2. Add ice water 1 tablespoon at a time, pulsing 5 times after each addition, until dough holds together when formed into a ball. Dump dough onto a lightly floured surface and quickly form into a rounded disk — do not over-handle. 3. Wrap disk in plastic wrap and chill for 30 minutes. Take dough out of refrigerator, unwrap, and place on a lightly floured surface. Sprinkle with flour and roll with a rolling pin into a flat 10- to 11-inch circle. Sprinkle with flour as needed to prevent sticking. 4. Fold dough in half and then in quarters and move dough to pie plate. Gently unfold, fit into plate, flute the edges and then the follow directions for your holiday pie recipe — either baking before you fill it or after.

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