Pies 101

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

Mix together flour and salt. Using a pastry blender or 2 knives cut cold lard into flour until mixture resembles coarse cornmeal. One tablespoon at a time, sprinkle water over flour mixture; toss 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 desired size pie plate. Follow directions for favorite pie.
Makes one 9-inch double crust pie or 2 single pie shells.
Classic Pumpkin Pie:
2 single unbaked pastry crusts
1 can (29 oz.) pumpkin (3 1/2 cups)
4 eggs
3/4 cup 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 F
Place pastry crust in 9-inch pie pan, flute or crimp edges of crust. Combine remaining ingredients and mix well. Pour custard into pie shell. Bake at 400 F for 15 minutes, reduce heat to 350 F and continue to bake 45 minutes or until a knife inserted in center comes out clean. Serve warm or cold with a dollop of whipped cream. Refrigerate leftovers.
* The three spices maybe substituted with 3 1/2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice.
Makes 2 single crust pies.
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 F
Line 9-inch pie plate with bottom crust.
Toss apples with lemon juice. Place in prepared pie shell. Mix together sugar, flour and spices. Sprinkle mixture over apples. Place top crust over filling; vent and flute 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.
Makes 1 double crusted pie. Apple pie is only as good as the apples you use. Select tart cooking apples; I use Granny Smith.

Fluting – Edges: Helps seal top and bottom crust together as well as add a decorative edge to pies. Remove excess pastry from sides of pie plate either by pressing dough against edge 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 over filling.

Top: To enhance the top crust appearance of the pie, try one of the following.
* Brush top lightly with milk before baking.
* Sprinkle top with sugar; or cinnamon and sugar before baking.
* 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 baked pie

* Crumb topping (use with 1 regular crust for bottom) – reduce or eliminate sugar in pie filling. Combine 3/4 cup rolled oats, 3/4 cup brown sugar, 1/2 cup flour, 1/4 teaspoon baking soda, and 1/2 cup softened butter. Mix well until crumbly; sprinkle crumbs 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 edge of bottom crust. Place top crust over filling and gently press down on edge creating a seal. Fluting adds to 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 paper; 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.
* To prevent fluted crust from burning, gently place strips of foil over edges; remove foil last 30 minutes.


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