How to Make the Perfect Pie Crust, Plus Pie Recipes by Maria Russo in Holidays, Recipes, November 4th, 2011
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When it comes to Thanksgiving desserts, pies take the cake. But making the perfect pie crust can be daunting, right? Should you use butter, lard or oil — or all three? At what temperature should you keep these ingredients? How should you handle the dough? No need to stress, because we have an easy guide on How to Make Pie Crust and also traditional pie recipes that turn out sweet and flavorful desserts every time.
Fat Talk: Dough built with butter will yield the most flavorful crust, but it’s important to work with very cold butter so as to avoid a gummy finished product. Using shortening is the ultimate way to ensure a flaky consistency, but it is not as naturally tasty as butter, so most recipes that feature lard or shortening will often call for butter as well.
Mix It Up: Try not to overwork the dough when incorporating the butter or shortening. When mixing, it is best to leave the dough in pea-sized bits that, when baking, will produce “open spaces” and the famed flaky crust.
Try these tips in your own kitchen when making some of our timeless pie recipes below. Then, join the conversation: Tell us in the comments whether you prefer butter or lard and how you bake up your family’s favorite Thanksgiving desserts.
Food Network Magazine’s Apple Pie (pictured above) features a filling of mixed tart and sweet apples and a fragrant combination of cinnamon, clove and nutmeg. The crust is made with butter — cold, of course — and a touch of vegetable shortening to guarantee a flaky, crumbly crust.
Instead of serving roasted sweet potatoes with dinner, try them in a Creamy Sweet Potato Pie from Food 2 for dessert. A tablespoon of cider or white wine vinegar helps to keep the crust soft while a splash of bourbon in the whipped cream promises a decadent topping.
This Dark Chocolate Pecan Pie recipe from Food.com calls for butter and a bit of ice water in its dough, which will bind the dough and make it easier to roll out. The filling boasts melted bittersweet chocolate that offsets perfectly the richness of the eggs, brown sugar and corn syrup.
Cooking Channel’s classic Pumpkin Pie (pictured above) uses canned pumpkin and both sweet evaporated and condensed milks for extra creaminess and an indulgent flavor. This crust uses butter and egg yolks, which add a definitive smooth texture.