Make all your holiday pie crusts in September and relax

What’s better than a completely homemade pie? How about not having to make everything on the same day.  How about knowing that you can have a crust with good ingredients that you selected and care about that will give you a good, flaky result.  Cut a huge chunk of time and effort and frustration out of baking those Thanksgiving pies by just pulling a ready to go disk of pie crust dough out of the freezer.  When Christmas rolls around, no worries, there’s more crusts in there waiting.  “How did you do it?” Your impressed friends and relatives will gasp. “I never have the time to make my own crust!” 

 apple pie

It seems crazy to be thinking about pies right now, I know. Thanksgiving is well over two months away.  But that’s why it’s the perfect time to make your crusts!  The time and effort required in making a pie crust the same day as preparing a filling and baking it is one of the many stressful chores that can set a bad tone for the holidays for some people.  If you do it well in advance there is no stress, and no immediate goal of a perfect pie to worry about.  So just pop on some upbeat music and make all your crusts with us in September, and you can really be thankful on Turkey Day.

First you have to figure out how many pie crusts you need.  Here’s a check list based on the pies we make annually that you can use a starting point for planning.:

Apple season: 2 crusts total

  • 2 crusts: Apple pie with lattice top

Thanksgiving: 3 crusts total

  • 2 crust: 2 Pumpkin Pies
  • 2 crusts: 2 Apple pies with crisp top

Christmas: 4 crusts total

Christmas Apple Pie

  • 2 crusts: 2 Pumpkin Pies
  • 2 crusts: 1 Apple Pie with traditional crust top

Get over the winter blues: 2 crusts total

  • 2 crusts: Strawberry Rhubarb pie with lattice top from frozen fruit

According to this list we need 12 crusts to get from apple season to the winter blues of February or March.  Maybe you don’t need this many, so here’s what we’ll do.  We’ll give you the amounts for a few different numbers of pie crusts, and you can adjust as needed.

Master pie crust recipe

Ingredients for 2 pie crusts:

  • 2 cups (9 oz) all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup (2.25 oz) whole wheat flour
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup butter, lard, shortening, or a combination of these (we use half butter and half lard)
  • 1/2 cup (4 oz) very cold water (we use ice)
  • scant 1 tablespoon lemon juice

INGREDIENTS FOR 4 pie CRUSTS:

  • 4 cups (18 oz) all purpose flour
  • 1 cup (4.5 oz) whole wheat flour
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 2 cups butter, lard, shortening, or a combination of these (we use half butter and half lard)
  • 1 cup (8 oz) very cold water (we use ice)
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice

INGREDIENTS FOR 12 pie CRUSTS:

note: to make this many crusts you may need to divide the work across 2 or 3 bowls if you don’t have a super large bowl, so you might want to use the recipe for 4 crusts above and replicate into 3 bowls.

  • 12 cups (54 oz) all purpose flour
  • 3 cup (13.5 oz) whole wheat flour
  • 6 tablespoons sugar
  • 6 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 6 cups very cold fat of choice – unsalted butter, lard, shortening, or a combination of these (we use half butter and half lard)
  • 3 cups (24 oz) very cold water (we use ice)
  • 6 tablespoons lemon juice

Procedure:

The process is the same no matter how many pie crusts you are making.  The important thing is to use a bowl that isn’t too small to work with.  A typical “large” mixing bowl is fine for up to 4 crusts at once in experience–anything more will be uncomfortable and probably make a mess.

1. If using butter: cut the butter into small chunks by cutting into thirds lengthwise, turning, cutting lengthwise in the other direction, and then chopping down the length of each stick.

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2. Place the butter and/or other fats used (lard or shortening) in the fridge for at least 15 minutes to chill.

3. Whisk together the flours, sugar, and salt in a large bowl.

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4. In another small bowl or cup, combine the water and lemon juice, set aside.

5. Here’s the fun part!  Dump the fat(s) onto the flour mixture and work it together with your fingers.  You could also use a food processor and pulse it carefully until the largest chunks are pea sized.  If working by hand you’ll want to be nimble and at the same time make sure to squash the butter chunks into the flour.  If you find that this process takes you more than 5 minutes, put the whole bowl into the refrigerator and take a 10 minute break.  In the end, you want the largest chunks to be pea sized.

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6. A quarter cup at a time, add the water/lemon juice to the flour/fat combo.  Mix it thoroughly with a spoon.  Stop adding water when the mixture will just barely hold together when you grab a fistful of it.  That means it’s done!

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7. On a generously floured surface, shape the dough into a large disk about an inch thick.

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8. Divide the disk into the number of crusts you are making.  You can use a pizza cutter and cut it like a pizza to ensure even sized “slices”

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9. Shape each piece into its own round disk.

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10. Wrap in plastic and put in the fridge to cool off for about 20 minutes.  You can also freeze these for later use (labeling and dating is recommended).

When you’re ready to make the pie:

1. If the crusts are frozen, place them in the refrigerator 4-6 hours in advance.

2. Roll out the crust on a generously floured surface.  A good technique is to roll once away from you, once towards you, and then rotate the dough 1/3 of the way, and repeat.  Continue doing this until it is the right size for your pie pan, or somewhere between 1/8 and 1/4 inch thick.

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3. Grease your pie pan with butter, lard, or shortening.

4. Fold the pie crust gently into fourths, transfer to the pie an, and unfold.

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5. Trim the edges of excess and patch any cracks or holes.  You can pinch the edges as shown in the following photo to give it a cute edging:

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6. Cover with plastic and place in the fridge until the filling is ready for assembly. Follow your favorite pie recipe and enjoy!

Need a pie filling recipe?  How about an apple pie that tastes purely of apples, an essential recipe we use to impress our family and friends every year?  Click here for our “Apple Flavored Apple Pie” with lattice top recipe.

Oh and don’t throw out those pie dough scraps!  Click here for our recipe to turn scraps into Berry Swirl Pie Cookies!

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