Pie crust is the foundation of a pie, and this dough is especially important for pies made with fruit. To keep your pie from being soggy, it’s crucial that the crust is able to withstand the intense moisture of a filling. The first step to creating a strong, flexible crust is mixing the flour and salt together. Once you’ve got the basics down, it’s time to add your fat of choice.
Butter is a common option, but it’s also possible to use lard. This solid fat, a bit like shortening, is ideal for decorative baked goods because it holds its shape very well. Traditionally, lard is used in a variety of Polish baked goods, including mazurka, which is a sweet cake with a tart apricot filling.
You can make the dough for this recipe by hand or in a food processor, though you’ll want to be careful not to overmix. Overmixing will cause your crust to become tough, which can make for a less-than-appetizing pie.
Mixing and kneading by hand allows you to be more in control of the texture of your dough, so it’s an excellent choice. You’ll want to work quickly, as the dough will need to rest before you can roll it out and place it in your pie plate or pan.
Once your pastry dough has rested, roll it out on a lightly floured surface to fit your pie plate or pan. You can either roll it out flat and then cut out a circle with a knife, or you can roll the dough into a disk, and then use a rolling pin to drape it over the edge of your pie plate or pan. The most important thing is to be confident in your ability to roll the dough, and to be able to handle it with ease.
After you’ve rolled out your crust, trim any excess and press it into the bottom and sides of your pie plate or pan. If your crust is thicker than your pan, crimp it at the edges to create a fluted edge.
The final step is to cut slits in the top of your pie crust so that steam can escape and the filling doesn’t leak out. For a pretty touch, you can cut decorative shapes from your top crust to decorate the pie. If you’re a little creative, you can even use a cookie cutter to make decorative cuts.
Before you start baking, it’s essential to pre-bake your crust to make sure it doesn’t get soggy. This process is known as blind baking, and it’s often necessary for a filling with a high water content, such as a pie with a custard or a chiffon filling.
Using a glass or heat-resistant pie plate or pan will help prevent your crust from getting too dark. You can also shield your pie with a pie crust shield ring or a 2- to 3-inch strip of foil.
Once the crust is baked, you’ll need to let it cool for at least 30 minutes before serving. A cooled pie crust is easier to handle than a warm one, so you can easily slice it into slices and serve it with your favorite toppings.