Tuesday, December 13, 2011

T&T: Perfect Pie Crust

t and t tuesday

I love the holidays, but my taste buds like to go a little against the grain. Meaning gingerbread, pumpkin spice, eggnog and pumpkin pie have absolutely no appeal to me. But that doesn’t mean my sweet tooth can’t be satisfied at Thanksgiving (or Christmas).

pie bite

Growing up, my mom always made an amazing chocolate cream pie for Thanksgiving and Christmas. (Once when I was much younger I made the mistake of calling it a chocolate pudding pie and described it as a pudding mix poured in a pie crust. Oops! I now understand what a huge insult that was.) So when my first Thanksgiving with Nolan’s family left me staring completely non-desirously at the dessert options, I resolved to take the tasty matter into my own hands in future years.

pie finished

This chocolate cream pie has now become a favorite at these gatherings. Last year, more slices of it were served than pumpkin pie. And while yes, the made-from-scratch-creamy-perfectly-chocolate filling is absolutely amazing (thanks Betty Crocker Cookbook!), I think it’s the crust that truly makes a pie. A homemade pie crust was always a given in my family growing up. But I’m now finding more and more people have never made a pie crust. And if you fall in that category, or maybe you have yet to find a great crust recipe, this post is for you.

pie recipe

That Betty Crocker never fails me. I grew up watching my mom use the orange version of the cookbook, and now pull out my red, updated copy on an almost daily basis. Now I know there are many different versions of the “perfect pie crust,” and I’ve tried many of them. But believe me, if you are making a cream pie, this one just can’t be beat.

All it takes is 1 cup flour, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon of shortening, and 2-3 tablespoons of water (I typically end up using all 3).

pie 1

Start by cutting in the shortening to the flour and salt. I know some people just use a fork or two knives, but I love my pastry blender. It was cheap. Cut until you have a nice, crumbly mix.

pie collage

Then you just sprinkle your water over the mixture, one tablespoon at a time. Between each addition of a tablespoon of water, use a fork to mix the water and mixture together in a fluffing sort of way. It will feel weird to mix this little water in, but that’s ok. Just keep slowly mixing. Once each tablespoon of water has been evenly mixed in, add the next. It’s a slow progression, but totally worth it.

pie dough

Then ball that dough up. I did a double batch since I was making two pies, and divided it in half at this time. Roll your dough out. Make sure your surface is well floured or else you might have problems when it is time to transfer your dough.

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Roll your dough out until it is a good amount larger than your pie pan.

pie crust

Then fold it in quarters to transfer it to your pie pan, then unfold. This pie pan is special because I received it after my great aunt passed away. It had been hers for years and still had the original box.

crust 2 collage

Once the crust is unfolded, I keep it pretty basic. I just cut my crust off a half inch down the on what’s hanging over and then bunch the excess up on the lip of the pan. I also patch any cracks and holes with left over dough. Then prick it a bunch with a fork. This is key or else you’ll get air bubbles and strange puffing up in your crust. Then just pop it in the oven.

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My crusts may not look gorgeous coming out of the oven, but the filling will make them look even better. And in the end, it’s the taste that I’d rather get the compliments on. Once they come out of the oven I usually set them aside to make the pie filling, and by the time that’s ready, my crusts have cooled. And just one more look at that incredible slice of pie…

pie bite

Topped with homemade whipped cream, it’s so delicious. And, I’m picky about my homemade whipped cream too. It has to have the perfect balance of sugar to vanilla. And the perfect combination in my mind? 1 cup whipping cream, 3 tablespoons sugar and 1 teaspoon vanilla. Perfect, I tell you, absolutely perfect. And, once again, that perfection comes from Betty. And no, Betty Crocker is in no way compensating me for this post. I just love this dessert that much.

***Please note: I would LOVE to be able to share the filling recipe with you at this time, but I want to respect copyright laws. I have contacted Betty Crocker to see if they'll allow me to publish their recipe here. In the mean time, if you can't wait, check out the Betty Crocker Big Red cookbook for the recipe!***

What is your holiday must have?

Thanks for stopping by!


  1. Love the tupperware "flour" bowl in the background! It's fun to see the legacy of chocolate cream pie continue!

  2. Looks great but what is the recipe for the chocolate filling?

  3. Jill, this was a great post. I am new to your blog and after reading it, I decided to take some time to browse your earlier entries. I'm so glad I did that. I really like the food and recipes you share with your readers and I'll definitely be back. I hope you have a great day. Blessings...Mary

  4. Please post your recipe for the chocolate filling too. I would love to have that as well. Thanks and Merry Christmas. Becca :-)

  5. So I realize this is very, very long after you posted this, but I was wondering, is this: http://www.bettycrocker.com/recipes/chocolate-cream-pie/ the pie filling recipe you use?


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