Pie Pastry

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Preparation info

  • One

    9 inch

    pie shell.
    • Difficulty


Appears in

Craig Claiborne’s Kitchen Primer

Craig Claiborne’s Kitchen Primer

By Craig Claiborne

Published 1969

  • About


  • cups sifted all-purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup solid or non-liquid shortening (this may be part butter)
  • 3 tablespoons water


  1. Combine the flour and salt in a mixing bowl and add the shortening. Using a pastry blender, cut in the shortening until the mixture looks like coarse corn meal.

  2. Sprinkle the mixture with water, a little at a time, while tossing and mixing the mixture with a two-pronged fork. When all the flour is lightly moistened, gather the dough into a ball. (The dough may now be rolled but it is better to wrap it in waxed paper and refrigerate, overnight if possible. Let the dough stand for 1 hour at room temperature before rolling.)

  3. Flatten slightly the ball of pastry on a lightly floured board or pastry cloth. Using a rolling pin, roll the dough from the center outwards with short, quick strokes. Lift the rolling pin after each stroke. And, lift and turn the pastry occasionally to make sure it is not sticking to the board or cloth. Continue rolling to make a circle of dough inch thick. Should the pastry tear—and ideally it shouldn’t—patch it with a small scrap of dough. The circle of dough should be about inches larger in diameter than the pie plate.

  4. Lift the dough onto the rolling pin and transfer it over a 9-inch pie plate. To do this, place the rolling pin close to the edge of the rolled-out circle of pastry. Carefully bring the pastry up against the sides of the pin and turn the rolling pin over and away from you while keeping the pastry close to the surface of the pin. When the pastry straddles the pin at the halfway mark it is ready to transfer. Using a pair of kitchen scissors, neatly trim around the overhanging edge but leave a margin of 1 to 2 inches. Fold the overhanging pastry back and under itself. You may now flute the edge or you may crimp the rim of the pastry with the tines of a fork. To flute with the fingers, place the left forefinger against the inside of the pastry rim while pinching outside with the right thumb and forefinger.

  5. If the crust is to be filled before baking, do not prick the dough.

  6. If the crust is to be baked before filling, there are two ways to go about it. One is to prick the bottom and sides of the dough generously with a fork and then bake in a preheated 425-degree oven for 12 to 15 minutes. Another method is to line the pastry with aluminum foil, then add enough raw rice or dried peas or beans to cover and weight the bottom. Then bake in a preheated oven for about 10 minutes. Remove the foil and rice or peas or beans and bake for 2 to 5 minutes more or until the crust is done. If the rim of the pastry starts to darken or burn, you should cover this part lightly with foil.

Of all pies, it is probably true that the two most popular are the cream pies and the berry or fruit pies. An example of each follows.