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Perfect Pie Crust

Perfect Pie Crust
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup cold lard
6-8 tablespoons cold water

1 double crust 9-inch pie or 2 single crust 9-inch pie shells.

Stir together flour and salt. Using a pastry blender or 2 knives cut cold lard into flour until mixture resembles coarse cornmeal. Sprinkle water, 1 tablespoon at a time, over flour mixture tossing gently with a fork; continue to add water until pastry is moist enough to press into a ball. Do not over mix pastry. Divide dough in half and roll each half out on a lightly floured surface, or between two sheets wax paper until it is the size of pie plate. Follow directions for favorite pie.

Fluting – Edges: Helps seal top and bottom crust together as well as add a decorative edge to pie shells. Remove excess pastry from sides of pie plate either by pressing dough against edges or cutting off with a knife.

* Fork – Firmly press fork tines down on edge of pie plate to seal and create decorative edge.

* Spoon – Press top and bottom edges of crust together; invert teaspoon and use tip to cut off excess pastry from pie edge.

* Rope – Press index finger knuckle down into pie crust edge twisting toward thumb.

* Pinch – Place index finger on inside of pie crust rim, pinch outside of pie crust around finger.

* Finger – Using thumb, press pie crust between two index fingers.

Vents: Vents allow steam to escape during cooking.

* Kitchen shears, snip V-shaped track across top crust

* Paring knife, cut 1 long gash down center, and 3-5 short slits on each side.

* Cookie cutter – cut small cookie cutter shapes from top crust before placing crust over filling.

Top: To enhance the top crust appearance of the pie, try one of the following.

* Brush top lightly with milk.

* Sprinkle top with sugar; or cinnamon and sugar.

* Egg wash – beat 1 egg with 1 tablespoon water, brush top crust lightly with egg before baking.

* Cut-outs – Using small pastry cutter or small cookie-cutters cut shapes from unbaked pie crust; place cutouts on top crust to bake. If making a pumpkin or custard pie, bake cutouts and pie separately. Place cutouts on top pie to bake

* Crumb topping (use with 1 regular crust for bottom) – combine 3/4 cup rolled oats, 3/4 cup brown sugar, 3/4 cup flour, 1/4 teaspoon baking soda, and 1/2 cup butter. Mix well; sprinkle over pie filling. Bake as directed.

Other Tips:

* Seal edges – Before placing top crust over filling, dampen two fingers with water and run over the top edge of bottom crust. Place top crust over filling and gently press down on edge creating a seal. Cut off excess pastry crust and flute edges to finish the seal.

* To bake pie shell for a cream pie, prepare the shell as for a pumpkin pie; flute the edge. Prick shell with a fork 1/2-inch apart across bottom and around sides of pie shell to prevent shell from puffing up. Another method – line pie shell with parchment or wax paper, then fill pie shell with uncooked dried beans, rice, or pie weights. Cool pie before removing weights.

* If possible, hook fluted edge over the lip of pie plate to prevent crust from shrinking.

* To prevent burned on spills in oven, place fruit pies on a cookie sheet to bake.

Classic Apple Pie
1 9-inch, unbaked double pie crust
5 cups tart baking apples; peeled, cored, sliced
1 tablespoon lemon juice
3/4 cup sugar
4 tablespoons flour
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Makes 1 double crust pie. Apple pie is only as good as the apples you use. Select tart cooking apples; I use Granny Smith.

Peel, core and slice apples; toss apples with lemon juice.

Mix together sugar, flour and spices. Line 9-inch pie plate with bottom crust; place apples in pie shell. Sprinkle sugar mixture over apples. Dampen top edge of crust by dipping finger in cold water and running around edge of pastry; place top crust over filling, press to seal edges. Cut away excess pastry crust; cut vents in top crust and flute or crimp edges. Bake at 400 degrees for 15 minutes, reduce heat to 350 and bake 30-45 minutes longer or until crust is flaky and apples are tender.

Classic Pumpkin Pie
2 single unbaked pastry crusts
1 can (29 oz.) pumpkin (about 3 1/2 cups)
4 eggs
3/4 cup granulated white sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar, packed
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons cinnamon*
1 teaspoon ginger*
1/2 teaspoon cloves*
2 cans (12 oz. ea.) evaporated milk or 3 cups half n half

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Makes 2 single crust pies (see recipe on back of Libby’s canned Pumpkin)

Place pastry crust in 9-inch pie pans, flute or crimp edges of crust. Combine remaining ingredients and mix well. Pour custard into pie shell. Bake at 400 degrees for 15 minutes, reduce heat to 350 degrees and continue to bake 45 minutes or until a knife inserted in center comes out clean. Serve warm or cold with a dollop of fresh whipped cream. Refrigerate leftovers.

* The three spices may be substituted with 3 – 3 1/2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice.

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