All-American Pie Crust: A Southern Staple

I rarely keep prepared pie crust in our fridge or freezer.  I have been known to use the frozen pie crust (bonus: it comes in its own pan) or the Pillsbury Pie Shells from the refrigerated section of the grocery store.  Both of those work just fine, and in a pinch, I’m sure I’ll grab one of them again … but lately I have really enjoyed making my own.  Let me be the first to de-bunk the myth that homemade pie crust is difficult:  it’s not.

In my favorite southern cookbook Bon Appetit, Y’allI found a recipe for All-American Pie Crust.   Did you know you can make pie crust dough in your food processor?  I didn’t, but now I doubt I will ever go back to making it in a mixing bowl with a pastry cutter (or, let’s be honest … two butter knives).

For a double-crust pie, simply double the amounts and divide the dough before rolling out.

chess pie

You will need:

11/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling

1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt

1/4 cup solid vegetable shortening, preferably Crisco, chilled and cut into pieces

4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, chilled and cut into pieces

3 to 8 tablespoons ice water

In the work bowl of a food processor fitted with the metal blade, combine the flour and salt, then add the vegetable shortening and butter. Process until the mixture resembles coarse meal, 8 to 10 seconds.  With the processor on pulse, add enough of the ice water, 1 tablespoon at a time, until the dough holds together without being sticky or crumbly. Shape the dough into a disk and wrap in plastic wrap. Chill until firm and the moisture has distributed evenly, about 30 minutes.

Flour a clean work surface and a rolling pin. (If making a double-crust pie or 2 pie shells, work with one disk at a time, keeping the second disk chilled.) Place a dough disk in the center of the floured surface. Starting in the center of the dough, roll to, but not over, the upper edge of the dough. Return to the center, and roll down to, but not over, the lower edge. Lift the dough, give it a quarter turn, and lay it on the work surface. Continue rolling, repeating the quarter turns, until you have a disk about 1/8 inch thick.

Ease the pastry into a 9-inch pie plate. Trim 1 inch larger than the diameter of the pie plate; fold the overhanging pastry under itself along the rim of the plate. For a simple decorative edge, press the tines of a fork around the folded pastry. To make a fluted edge, using both your finger and thumb, pinch and crimp the folded dough. Chill until firm, about 30 minutes.

To blind bake, preheat the oven to 425 degrees.  Crumple a piece of parchment paper, then lay it our flat over the bottom of the pastry. Weight the paper with pie weights, dried beans or uncooked rice. This will keep the unfilled pie crust from puffing up in the oven. For a partially baked shell that will be filled and baked further, bake for 20 minutes. Remove from oven and remove paper and weights. (You can reuse the rice or beans for blind-baking a number of times.) The shell can now be filled and baked further, according to recipe directions.  For a fully baked shell that will hold an uncooked filling, bake empty shell until [it reaches] a deep golden brown, about 3o minutes total.

If you don’t already have a copy of this cookbook, you need one.  They’re available on Amazon, and with a 5-star rating, you know it’s good.

I was gifted a copy from a friend and love it so much that I gifted another copy to a friend.  Virginia includes snippets from and glimpses into her life as a culinary student, which are great encouragements for a novice cook like myself.

**Reprinted with permission from Bon Appétit, Y’all: Recipes and Stories from Three Generations of Southern Cooking by Virginia Willis, copyright © 2008. Published by Ten Speed Press, a division of Random House.

For more information about  Virginia Willis, visit her website at and her blog at

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3 thoughts on “All-American Pie Crust: A Southern Staple

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  2. Pingback: Chess Pie: A Southern Staple « Doug and Brittany


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