Don't Be Scared, It's Just Pie Crust

We promise, you can do this.

When compared with layer cakes and French pastries, it becomes overly clear that pie is one of the easiest desserts to make. All you have to do is toss a filling, throw it into a pie crust, bake (or sometimes not) and enjoy. Its ease is probably one of the reasons that we love pie so much during the summer months. That, and all the great fruit we have on hand to bake in them.

But pie does have one thorn in its heel, and that is the crust. While pie itself is super easy to make, pie crust is not as user friendly. And for the novice baker it can be downright scary.

But bakers, listen to us, don't let pie crust intimidate you. Once you've tried your hand at it once or twice (and possibly thrown a bag of flour across the kitchen and cursed in frustration), you'll soon see that you're truly in control when it comes to crust. There's really not much to it. Just take a deep breath; keep in mind a couple of helpful tips; and remember, that at the end of this pie crust experience comes great pie -- many and many of them.

Here's what you need to know for a stress-free pie crust experience:

  • Start with cold butter. Really cold butter. We like to throw our butter in the freezer for about 30 minutes before working with it to make pie crust -- especially during the summer months.

  • Use ice-cold water. Actually, all your pie crust ingredients should be ice cold. The reason you want cold ingredients is to make sure you don't melt the butter before it reaches the oven. You want to keep the butter really cold so that little pea-sized pieces of butter get worked into the dough still intact -- they'll make your pie crust perfectly flaky. Also, working with warm butter means working with a sticky dough and that is a guaranteed disaster.
  • Refrigerate the dough for 30 minutes before rolling it.
  • When rolling the dough, don't be too stingy with the flour. Every recipe will tell you to only add as much flour as needed so that the dough doesn't stick. While this is true, most novice bakers tend to be way stingier than necessary when it comes to flouring the dough for easy rolling. If your dough is sticking in any way, just add more flour. Please.
  • If you feel like your pie dough is getting too warm to handle, take a break and put it in the fridge. These couple of minutes you waste waiting on your dough to cool will save you many hours of frustration.
  • Many people swear by glass pie plates. Not only do they let you see how cooked the bottom is -- avoiding a surprise soggy crust -- but they're known to conduct heat evenly too.
  • Once you have your crust rolled and ready to fill, give it 15 minutes in the fridge just to make sure it's nice and chilled before it goes in the oven. This can also help prevent a soggy-bottom pie.
  • Now that you know everything you need to know when it comes to pie crust, give it a try with this pie crust recipe. You'll be amazed at how easy it can be.

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    This story appears in Issue 74 of our weekly iPad magazine, Huffington, available Friday, Nov. 8 in the iTunes App store.

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