It's my favorite time of year. Pie time. Do you know the difference between a good pie and a great pie? The crust! I spent most of my childhood in a farm kitchen, making breads, noodles and desserts from scratch. Once you've had that real shit, store-bought just doesn't cut it. Cooking and baking was an all-day event at my grandma Rene's. All of my memories of her are in the kitchen. She fed a small army of farmers every day, along with 5-7 granddaughters, and her weekly church and community dinners. We didn't just make a pie. We made 30 pies. This time of year, as I'm sorting through worn-down, handwritten recipes alone, I'm so thankful for my memories in the kitchen with grandma. Baking her pies is one of my favorite ways of keeping her memory alive. I'm also really thankful she taught me the importance of a homemade crust. So, put down that frozen Pillsbury, grab a loved one and start rolling. Pie crusts are super easy to make and totally worth it. Here are the basics. Happy baking!
Rene's Pie Crust
- 3 cups flour
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 1/4 cups shortening
- 5 tablespoons water
- 1 tablespoon vinegar
- 1 beaten egg
"Add water and vinegar to beaten egg and then to flour and shortening mix."
If you haven't had a grandma teach you how to make a pie, those directions might be insufficient. Here's a more detailed rundown.
- Preheat oven to 350°F.
- Prepare table with a heavy cloth, extra flour and rolling pin.
- In food processor or mixer, blend flour, salt and shortening.
- Add beaten egg, cold water and vinegar until mix is just blended. Don't over mix. This will cause your dough to get warm. We want it to be chilled for easy rolling. (I keep the liquid mix in the fridge until the last minute.)
- Divide dough in half. Roll out one at a time. Position the pie pan over the crust and try to flip it, using the cloth, without breaking it. Then patch up the part that broke.
- Fill with fruit mix and add top crust or crumbly topping. For top crust, add slits, a little milk and sprinkle with sugar.
- Cover crust edges with foil or milk-soaked cloth. (Remove 15 minutes before pie is done.)
- Bake for 45 minutes to an hour.
Fruit Pie Filling
- 4 cups fruit (fresh cherries, peaches, apples, berries)
- 1 cup sugar
- 3 tablespoons tapioca
- 1 teaspoon almond flavoring
- 6 tablespoons melted butter
- 1 cup flour
- 1/3 cup dark brown sugar
Recipes: Doreen Harriman / Photos © Katie Harriman