It’s high time we talk about pie!
Pie can come in many different forms, but all of them are really delicious. Of course, before we start talking about specific types of pie, I should probably start by answering the question: What is a pie?
Good question. A pie can be 🍬 sweet or 🍗 savory, but every pie needs a crust.
Pie crust is a combination of flour, water, and fat. (With a dash of salt, too. 🧂) Although, some pies use a graham cracker crust. But, for right now, I just wanna focus on traditional pie crusts. The most common two types of fat in a pie crust are butter or shortening. However, you can also animal lard or oil, if you’d prefer. You can use a single type of fat or a combination of them, but the fat in the dough is absolutely essential.
Why? Science! 🤓🥼🧪
You see, all of your fat options have some amount of water in them. 💧 Depending on which fat you chose, it will have more or less water content. For example, butter has more water in it than shortening does. 🧈 And, once you’ve assembled your pie and put it in the oven, the heat from the oven excites the water molecules inside of the pie crust. Eventually, the water turns into steam. 💨 And the steam pushes its way up and out of its doughy prison.
But, in the process, they cause the dough to rise and have all these amazing flaky layers! 😋🤤
So your choice of fat makes a big difference on your finished crust!
Like I mentioned before, butter has more water in it. Which you should now read as: butter makes for a more flaky pie crust! ☁ Plus butter’s just tasty! Unfortunately, butter is also tricky to work with because it could melt while you’re working with it. 🤔 Alternatively, shortening has a higher melting point🌡 so it’s less delicate to work with.
Now that you know about how to make a pie crust, let’s focus on what you’ll need in order to roll it out! 🤘
First thing’s first, do NOT overmix your pie crust. When it comes to pie crust, you want it to be soft and tender like a new born baby. 👶 Not tough and grizzled like Mr. Universe. 💪 And the more you handle it, the tougher the crust will be.
When it comes to rolling out your pie crust, you’re going to need a rolling pin.
This tool is a perfectly smooth cylinder that has handles on either side. It’s important that your rolling pin is smooth, because your pie crust is very moldable. For this same reason, you want your work station to also be smooth. If your kitchen has a tiled countertop, avoid working directly on the surface. You don’t want grout lines on the underside of your pie! 😨
However, this 🦎chameleon-like tendency a can be a cool asset if you use a rolling pin with pattern printed onto it. That way, your crust takes on that pattern as you press it into the raw dough!
You’ll also want flour on hand. ✋🤚
Flour is possibly the most important tool you’ll need to roll out your pie crust.
Flour helps stop the crust from sticking- and it wants to stick to everything. The counter, your hands, the rolling pin… So, to counteract that, you dust everything in flour. Sprinkle it on your work station, pat it onto your rolling pin, dust it over your hands. And, as it comes off, you add more. ➕
All of this just so your crust will behave.
Ready, set, action! And we’re rolling… 🎬
Now, actually rolling out a pie crust is something I really struggled with when I was first learning. 😢
It takes some finesse and some practice before you know what it should feel like. But the basic motion is this: Start by putting your ball of dough on the middle of your work surface. Put your rolling pin on the middle of your round of dough. Then, with pressure, push down and away from you. From here, rotate (roughly 45 degrees) to where the dough is still tall, and repeat.
Continue this process until the whole dough is circular and uniformly flat. ⚪
I never thought working with pie crust was easy. Mostly because there are so many things to consider! 🤔 If you don’t roll it out enough, the crust will be thick and dense. But if you go too thin, when you go to pick up your crust to put it in your pie tin, it could rip apart. 💔 Plus, you have to consider the size of your dough’s circle. 📏 It needs to be the right diameter to fit in your pan.
It’s just a lot to think about!
But once you have it, you want to carefully transfer your pie crust into your pie tin. 🚕
To do this, I recommend resting your rolling pin in the middle of your finished crust. Then, peel the dough up and over the rolling pin. Delicately lift the pin up until the entire crust is midair.🛫 But you do not hold the rolling pin by the handles! Hold it on the pin itself. I made this mistake once and my crust rolled right off the rolling pin onto the floor. 😭 Talk about a day ruiner! From here, delicately drape the crust over the pie plate.
At this point you can, very carefully, rearrange it to fit in the pie tin. 🧤🖼
Next, you crimp. What is crimping?
No, it’s not the latest dance move! 💃🕺 It’s how you make your pie crust look pretty around the edges! 🎀
Now that your pie crust in in the pie tin, it’s time to make the edges look super cool! 😎 You can add all sorts of different patterns to the edges of your crust. Of course, it’s not just about making an interesting design. Crimping is also how you get a nice, polished edge to your pie crust. 🎩 And, if you skip it, you’ll see the rough, uneven edges from when you rolled it out. Which isn’t necessarily bad. Some pies, like galettes leave it like this on purpose to give them a rustic, handmade aesthetic.
But for today, I want to teach you how to crimp. 👩🏫
First, you need to either rip off or fold under any excess pie crust along the edges. But don’t take off too much- you need some dough to work with!
Personally, my go-to method uses a pinching motion. 👌 I grab the dough in between my thumb and my index finger on both hands. Then, I pinch the dough and pull it together until my fingernails touch. ✋🤚 Next (since I’m right handed) I rest my left hand in the crater of my newly formed pinch-mark. Then I repeat that same motion, but mostly dragging the dough with my right hand. From here I work my way around the entire pie. 🎠
Eventually, it should look like this:
Finally, finally, finally! Let’s talk about the good part: the filling!
While you can technically make savory pies (by adding meat or potatoes to your pie crust), you know that’s not what I want to focus on! I want to talk about dessert pies- all day, ev’ry day!
There are lots of different fillings you can put in your crust. Fruit, custard, cream- and each one of those is only a category heading! Inside each type there is an entire world 🌎 of variety and interest! My favorite is probably fruit pie because it’s so berry flavorful. There’s 🍓 strawberry pie, raspberry pie, 🍑 peach pie, 🍎 apple pie, blueberry pie, rhubarb pie- you name it, there’s a pie for that.
Fruit pies usually use a thickener, like cornstarch. And the thickener helps firm up (or as bakers call it “set”) all the juiciness of the filling. Without it, you’d have a sweet berry soup. 🥣 I find that the thickener is especially helpful when I bake with frozen fruit. The added water of the ice melting means I have to add more cornstarch than usual to compensate.
Custard pies use eggs and dairy in their filling. 🥚🥛 So pumpkin pies are a considered to be a custard pie. 🎃 Just like buttermilk pie, chess pie, and coconut custard pie. You can also put nuts in pie- like pecans! (And, maybe the weirdest part, is they’re really good!)
Lastly, you can make cream pies.
These pies are a little special because the filling itself never gets baked. You actually prebake the pie crust and add the filling after the fact. ⏲ This is called blind baking your pie crust. And you can buy a special tool to weigh your crust down in the oven called a pie weight. The alternative is to use a graham cracker crust, because it’s not vital that it gets baked beforehand.
Cream pies are always no bake pies because the feature a pudding in a pie crust. And you don’t want to bake pudding! 🤮 Examples of classic cream pies are key lime pie, chocolate pie, or lemon meringue pie. You know, all the types of pie you’d see on the Three Stooges. 🤕🤡
But seriously, no matter what type of pie you make, it is going to be absolutely delicious! 😋🤤🥧
Hooray! You finished your book learning! 📕
I’m so proud of you! 🥰🤩🤗 Look how far you’ve come! Look how much you’ve learned! Like- a whole lot of stuff! Of course, we’re not quite done… There’s one more thing that you have to do before I can bid you adieu:
I need you to hit the kitchen and make something! 👩🍳👨🍳🍽
Cause what good is all that knowledge if you don’t put it to use? 🦉 Plus, you deserve some hot, homemade cookies- and I have just the recipe in mind! 🍪