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Easy as Pie

June 14, 2011

Since 2011 has been dubbed “The Year of the Pie”, and like the cupcake, it will likely extend several years into the future, let’s learn how to make pie!

We’ll start with the easiest pie dough recipe there is. It’s easy because it takes shortening instead of butter, which is a little easier to work with and also is a pantry staple, so it’s something you’re more likely to have on hand. Also, this dough doesn’t need to be refrigerated before you use it unlike most butter recipes, so it’s quick.

I made these apple pies for my son’s 3rd grade class when he did a report on apples. When he told me he wanted to make apple pie, I had visions of us spending quality time together: making the dough, rolling it out, laughing, maybe we’d even have a food fight and throw flour at each other. That kind of thing. Instead I found myself running to the store at 9:30 for apple pie filling and baking well into the night, cursing under my breath all the while. So I used this easier recipe.

Basically, when you’re working with any sort of pastry dough, you want to mix it as little as possible. Unlike with bread, you don’t want to develop the gluten in the flour. That’s what gives pastry its flaky texture. Think of it as granules of flour wrapped in butter (or in this case, shortening). That’s what we’re going for here.

1 c flour
1/2 tsp salt
6 Tbsp shortening
2-3 Tbsp cold water

First mix the flour and salt in a bowl. Add the shortening and cut it in using a pastry cutter, a wire wisk, or two knives held parallel. You want to cut the shortening into pea-sized chunks and sort of mix it with the flour, but don’t try to incorporate it into a dough. The less you mix it, the better.

Add the cold water and mix with a fork until it just holds together as a dough. I’ve given the range here, but I generally like to add more water at the beginning and then I can use more flour on my board when I’m rolling it out. That way it sticks less.

Roll the dough into a ball and turn it out onto a lightly floured board. Roll into a flat disk using a rolling pin, and starting at the center of the ball roll it in all directions. Roll the dough onto your rolling pin and then roll it onto your pan. Add your favorite filling and bake at 400 degrees for 25-40 minutes, until golden brown.

This recipe is for a single-crust pie. For a double-crust pie, you can double this recipe and use the other part for the top or do a lattice by cutting into strips and weaving them on top of the filling.

For more tips about finishing, serving, and storing your pies, go to the Betty Crocker website.

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