Tips for pie crusts

10660157_787732901284290_3829257894494878370_nMany people have told me that making the crust of a pie is too intimidating so they go the safe, convenient route and buy a pre-made crust from the grocery store,  Personally, I think a homemade crust is crucial to a good pie as store bought crusts tend to have a chemical, metallic flavor and are usually too thick. While I can’t share my mother’s secret pie dough recipe that I use, I can give you a few tips to take the fear of failure out of the way so you can be successful even on your first try.
A good pie dough should have just a few ingredients: a high quality fat (this is the most important ingredient, don’t skimp–for example, I use European-style butter and lard), flour, salt and cold water. Mix your fats and salt together, add in the flour and mix until it looks crumbly then slowly add the cold water.  My dough is quite sticky at this point. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for about an hour.  After it is chilled it should be easy to handle (the dough will no longer be sticky).
Now, if you’ve used a good recipe and chilled the dough, rolling out the dough should be quite easy.  (If your dough is crumbly or super sticky, you are going to have a hard time.  It should feel like playdough at this point.)  Lay out a thin linen towel or sheet of parchment paper on your work surface and dust it generously with flour. Have a cup of flour on hand. Divide your dough and shape it into balls with your hands. Lightly coat the dough ball with flour and place on your towel. Roll the dough away from your body, give the dough a quarter turn, and repeat at least 3 times. If the dough sticks to your rolling pin, dust it lightly with flour. Then roll the dough out as if you are going around a clock to form your circle.  Try to avoid rolling in opposite directions,  For example, don’t roll the dough away from you and then toward you.  Always switch angles.  This prevents the dough from becoming tough.  The dough should be about 1/8 of an inch thick and be at least two inches greater in diameter than your pie pan.
Lifting the dough and placing it in the pan should be fairly easy to do. Place your rolling pin near the top edge of your dough, then lift the top edge of the towel and pull towards you.  The crust should roll right on to your pin.  Then lift the pin and roll the dough right into the pan.  Roll out your top crust in the same manner.  Then fill your pie and place use the same technique of lifting the dough onto the rolling pin and unroll it onto the top of your pie.
There are many methods for finishing the edges of your pies, but just make sure that you pinch together the two layers to seal the crust.  The easiest way to make a pretty edge is to press it with the tines of a fork all the way around and then trim off any overhanging dough with a knife.

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