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Home » Traditional Flaky Pie Crust with Shortening (Easier for Beginners)

Traditional Flaky Pie Crust with Shortening (Easier for Beginners)

Learn how to make a traditional pie crust that uses part butter and part shortening. The result? A perfect combination of buttery flavor with the flakiness and stability provided by the shortening.

How To Make a Flaky Pie Crust That Is NOT All-Butter--Making PIe Crust My Way--showing raw pie crust with some filling

Part of my job as a county extension agent back in the ’70s was to do a  short cooking demonstration for a local TV station.

Why I picked the subject of pie crusts is a mystery now. Little did I know how many pie crusts it would take to get my technique down.

Recipe Inspiration

Nevertheless, crust-making has turned out to be a reasonably useful life skill. Never mind that most people these days are perfectly happy with a pie crust from the supermarket.

At this point in my life, I’ve tried what seems like hundreds of variations. In the end, I come back to this recipe when I want to make sure my pie crust turns out beautiful and flaky.

How To Make a Flaky Pie Crust That Is NOT All-Butter--Baked Crust with no filling.

Why NOT All-Butter?

In my experience, most all-butter recipes tend to shrink once baked. Shrinkage is especially catastrophic when you are baking a pie shell without a filling.

I know what you’re thinking and Yes! Dried beans, pie weights, chains, as well as twisted parchment paper snakes–tried them all.

You can use a food processor to mix the dough, which is how I do it most often. However, the pictures that follow show doing it the old-fashioned way. By hand. Guess it depends on whether you want to wash all the parts of a food processor or use some elbow grease with a fork or pastry blender.

How to mix up pie crust by hand:

cutting in flour with a pastry cutter
Use a fork, pastry cutter or food processor to cut fat into flour.
flour/fat mixture that resembles oatmeal
Flour/fat mixture should be very coarse with some pieces looking like small peas and other pieces resembling thick-cut oatmeal
shaggy pie dough
Sprinkle ice cold water over flour mixture and start to compress into a ball. Only use as much water as necessary to make a shaggy ball.
Sprinkling flour into pastry cloth
Sprinkle flour over a cloth.
working flour into pastry cloth with fingers
Work flour in with your fingers
Crumbly pie dough on flour towel with rolling pin
Dump the crumbly dough onto a floured cloth.
pressing dough into a ball with cloth to keep fat from melting
Put your hands underneath the cloth and use the cloth to press the dough together. This keeps your warm hands off the dough so the fat doesn’t melt. Also keeps the sticky dough off your hands.

How to Roll Out a Pie Crust Without Using Too Much Flour:

rolling out pie dough on floured cloth
If the dough is too sticky at this point, put more flour on the cloth–not the dough.
showing rolling pin with cover--making a circle of dough
Use a rolling pin to roll out the dough, making strokes starting at the center and going outward at different angles in opposite directions like you are going around a clock. Strive to keep your circle symmetric.
Place pie plate upside down on top of pie dough.
When you are satisfied your crust is large enough and thin enough, place an empty pie plate upside down on top of the dough.
using hands and floured cloth to flip pie crust into pie pan
Carefully, scoot your hand underneath the pastry cloth and flip the whole mess upside down
tea towel flipped over
The tea towel will end up on top.
separating the cloth from the dough
Peel the towel off of the crust. It may stick in a few places. Use a knife to carefully free the dough from the cloth.

How To Finish the Edge of Your Flaky Pie Crust:

folding the overhanging dough to make it even with the edge of pie plate
Fold overhanging dough up under the edge to make it even with the side of the pie plate.
Putting ruffle edge on pie crust with my fingers.
Pull your fingers in opposite directions to make a ruffled effect.

If you need to bake the crust before you add the filling, my favorite method today is using stainless steel chainlink. No more spilled/storing dried beans or pie weights. Even better, they are good and heavy.

Chains like the one pictured are sold by the foot at hardware stores or online.

Line your raw pie crust with non-stick aluminum foil or parchment paper. Use your hands to force the foil to conform to the crust. Finally, drop your chain inside of the pie crust before you put it in the oven.

How To Make a Flaky Pie Crust That Is NOT All-Butter--picture shows how flaky the crust is.

Pie Crust Tips… 

  1. Don’t roll your dough too thin. It can easily tear and stretch.
  2. Don’t roll your dough too thick. It will be hard to cut in the pan and messes up the proportions of dough to filling.
  3. Don’t let the crust get too brown or it will give the flavor a bitter vibe. Go for golden brown–not toasty brown.
  4. No matter what crust recipe you use, always spray your pie pan with something like Baker’s Joy to keep the crust from sticking.

More Recipes Related to Pie Crust



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    Paula

    p.s. Questions? Email me: paula at saladinajar.com.


    Yield: 2 8 or 9-inch pie crusts

    A Traditional Flaky Pie Crust with Shortening

    A Traditional Flaky Pie Crust with Shortening

    Using both butter and shortening as the fat in a pie crust recipe combines the flavor of butter with the flakiness and stability of shortening for an outstanding pie crust.

    Prep Time 20 minutes
    Cook Time 25 minutes
    Total Time 45 minutes

    Ingredients

    • 2 3/4 cups flour
    • 1/2 teaspoon salt
    • 1 teaspoon sugar
    • 1/2 cup cold butter
    • 1/2 cup ice cold shortening (can substitute lard)
    • 7-9 tablespoons ice water

    Instructions

    Mixing the dough:

    1. Use fork, pastry cutter or food processor to cut butter and shortening into flour.
    2. Flour/fat mixture should be very coarse with some pieces looking like small peas and other pieces resembling thick cut oatmeal
    3. Sprinkle ice cold water over flour mixture and start to compress into a ball. Only use as much water as necessary to make a shaggy ball.
    4. Sprinkle flour over a pastry cloth or tea towel and work in with your fingers. I also use a special sock on my rolling pin that comes with the pastry cloth. Work flour into it also.
    5. Dump crumbly dough onto floured cloth.
    6. Put your hands underneath the cloth and use the cloth to press the dough together.
    7. If dough will not come together, sprinkle a few drops of water over dough until it does. If dough is too sticky at this point, put more flour on the cloth--not the dough.
    8. Divide the dough into 2 discs. Place in refrigerator for at least 15 minutes or until ready to roll.

    Rolling out the dough:

    1. Remove dough from refrigerator and allow to warm slightly.
    2. Use rolling pin to roll out 1 disc of dough, making strokes starting at the center and going outward at different angles in opposite directions like you are going around a clock. Strive to keep your circle symmetric.
    3. When you are satisfied your crust is large enough and thin enough, place empty pie plate upside down on top of dough.

    Placing pie crust into pie pan:

    1. Spray pie pan with flour/oil aerosol like Baker's Joy.
    2. Carefully, scoot your hand underneath the pastry cloth and flip pie crust upside down. The pastry cloth will end up on top.
    3. Peel the towel off of the crust. If crust sticks to the towel, use a knife to carefully free the dough from the cloth.
    4. Trim crust with cooking scissors or a knife leaving about 1/3-1/2 inch overhang.
    5. Fold overhanging dough up under the edge to make it even with the side of the pie plate.
    6. Make a decorative border.
    7. Place finished piecrust in the freezer for at least 30 minutes. Repeat steps 10-18 with remaining pie crust disc.

    Baking pie crust without a filling: (blind-baking crust)

    1. Cover the inside of frozen pie shell with nonstick aluminum foil or parchment paper. Fill covered pie shell with pie weights or a heavy chain link like you can buy by the foot at a hardware store. (see picture in post)
    2. Bake in a preheated oven at 375 degrees F for 25-30 minutes. Remove parchment paper or foil but don't throw it away. It's reusable.
    3. Use a knife or toothpick to carefully puncture any bubbles (making the smallest incision possible) to let the hot air out and gently press the dough back down against dish. If your pie crust shrinks down into the pan, more than likely you stretched it while rolling out or you neglected to freeze the crust ahead of time.
    4. Put crust back into the oven and bake 5-10 minutes until golden brown and crispy. Watch carefully that it doesn't brown too much lest your crust taste slightly bitter/burnt.

    Nutrition Information:

    Yield:

    16

    Serving Size:

    1/8 of 1 pie crust

    Amount Per Serving: Calories: 119Total Fat: 5gSaturated Fat: 3gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 2gCholesterol: 11mgSodium: 97mgCarbohydrates: 16gFiber: 1gSugar: 0gProtein: 2g

    Did you make this recipe?

    Please leave a comment on the blog or share a photo on Pinterest

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    isabelle

    Wednesday 9th of December 2009

    Great tutorial! I will try your fantastic method, thanks for sharing:))

    Katrina

    Wednesday 25th of November 2009

    That is awesome. I love the crimping. I was just "complaining" that I really stink at pie crust crimping. I try. But need to try harder to make it look better. Love your tutorial! Thanks. Johnson Cty. where?

    Joan

    Monday 23rd of November 2009

    I never buy pie crusts because I think that it is too easy to make one. Then I never make pies because it seems like too much trouble to make a crust. You don't get anywhere if you are cheap and lazy!

    Christina Lee

    Monday 23rd of November 2009

    What a beautiful pie crust! I always like them better homemade! I will have to try your method!

    amanda

    Monday 23rd of November 2009

    What a fabulous tutorial, will have to try your method. I need to get a tea cloth. Love the design around your crust :)