If one pie crust is terrifying, a double crust can be… twice as terrifying!
Making pie crust can be scary for many. It certainly was for me. Even up until a few years ago, I would choose to wash every dish at Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner over making the pies for dessert.
My parents don’t have a dishwasher – actually, they do… my hands. Doesn’t it make you shudder? That’s how badly I tried to avoid making pie dough!
I, like most home bakers, learned everything I know from my mama. Mostly through trial and error on my end – and endless patience on her end. This was before YouTube came about, with its limitless supply of informative videos. Now, you can watch – and re-watch – how to make nearly anything, such as a perfectly formed double crust pie, with perfect crimping and a flaky crust.
We here at King Arthur Flour have made A. Lot. Of. Pies.
So, please think of us as part of your family, and let us show-and-tell you some tips and tricks for double pie crust perfection, using our Classic Double Pie Crust recipe.
We’ve touched bases on the basics of pie making before. Here are our top 3 tips for perfect pie dough:
1) Work half the fat into the flour in pea-sized chunks. Then add the other half of the fat, working it into larger, flat pieces. Those will create delicious, flaky layers when baked.
2) Breathe. Find your pie-making zen place. Over-stressing leads to overworking your dough, which will create a tough crust. Try to keep your hands out of the bowl as much as possible.
3) And keep your ingredients cold! Warm, melty butter is going to give you a greasy, dense pie crust. Cold butter, cold water – heck, you can even keep your flour in the freezer. A little extra insurance, just incase you have extra warm hands or a really warm kitchen.
If you’d like to find out more, there’s no one better to ease your pie dough fears than chef Susan Reid of Sift magazine fame. She introduced me to my favorite pie-making tool: the spray bottle. Check out her Pie, any way you slice it blog to learn more!
If you happen to be a visual learner, please click and enjoy our newly released video for creating perfect, flaky pie crust!
The butter vs. shortening dilemma:
Some recipes call for all butter, some for all shortening, and some for a 50/50 mix. What’s all the fuss about?
Both shortening and butter work to create a flaky crust. In addition, shortening adds a certain degree of sturdiness to the dough, and butter lends its tasty flavor. When making a double pie crust, we recommend both. Pies made from 100% butter don’t hold their crimped edges as well, and tend to slump a bit when baking. The added shortening ensures your pie looks as pretty as it tastes. PJ’s Butter vs. Shortening blog post explains this in greater detail.
Size does matter:
Once your dough is fully combined and before you pat it into a disk to chill in the fridge – STOP. You’d think you could just split the dough in half, right? After all, the top and bottom will use about the same amount.
That’s not the case.
Your bottom crust has to cover both the bottom and sides of the pan, with enough left over to crimp. As for your top? You guessed it. It just needs to cover the top, which takes less dough. Split the dough into 2/3 and 1/3 pieces before chilling. You’ll save yourself from the struggle of trying to roll out insufficient dough for the bottom crust, and being left with excess for the top.
One of the scariest parts about a double crust pie? Getting that top crust on without it ripping in half! Here are four different ways to get it done and to make it look easy.
If you’re feeling totally inspired after reading the above mentioned blogs and watching the videos and wondering what pie to tackle first, you can’t go wrong with a classic apple pie – or even a peach pie, using fresh-from-the-farmer’s-market finds. Make them both! After all, two pies are better than one – just like a double crust pie is better than a single. Especially when made by your own two hands.