They’ll make a day for just about anything, won’t they? National Pie Day was created by, um… you guessed it, the American Pie Council, to celebrate this national comfort food and its role in our American heritage. Ok, we’ll roll with it. We don’t need to be told twice to put pie up on a pedestal and worship all that is lovely about pie.
What we love about pie is its amazing versatility. You can put almost anything into a pie shell and it will be a hit. From sweet, fruit pies and cream pies to savory quiches and potpies, we haven’t found a pie that we didn’t love.
What is definitely the most intimidating part of pies is the crust. Yes, you can take the easy route and buy a pre-made crust at the store, but there’s something about making a pie from scratch that is so satisfying.
The key to a good pie crust is to follow the directions exactly, use cold butter and ice water if required, and make sure the dough does not get overly wet. You want it to stick together when pressed, but you don’t want it to be gooey. It’s a bit intimidating, but usually there are only a few steps: mix flour, salt, sugar (if using), blend in shortening or butter using a pastry blender, add water one tablespoon at a time until dough sticks together. We cannot emphasize enough that the water must be added and blended one tablespoon at a time. If you dump it in all at once, you end up with a soggy crust. A tip that we dearly love is using wax paper or plastic wrap when rolling your crust out. What a lifesaver that can be!
You want to check how long the crust needs to be chilled (if at all) before you endeavor to make your pie. There is nothing more frustrating than going to make your pie and learning you still have to chill the dough for six hours. The longer the dough chills, the flakier your crust will be upon baking. Not all dough needs to be chilled and we recommend keeping a few different crusts in your collection:
- a traditional double pie crust (gluten free version here) Chilling time can be reduced, but the crust may not be quite as flaky.
- a double pie crust that does not require chilling
- a single pie crust for pies that do not need a top crust (gluten free version here)
- a quick and easy graham-cracker or nut-based pie crust; for a great gluten free version to stand in for “graham cracker” crusts, we particularly love this one from Karina Allrich of Gluten Free Goddess fame.
- for a vegan pie crust, this post is a great reference.