True Confessions of Pure Pie Panic


It seems like I’ve written about pie before. But this time I’m writing about making pies. ‘Tis the season, after all, right?

Well, no. It all started when my pie-making abilities were called into question, and by my daughter no less. Truthfully, all she asked was, “Mommy, can we make some pies?” But the insinuation was there: She assumed I actually could MAKE pies.


“Um, sure,” I said, a bit too quickly. I had to mask my true feelings. Did I mention that she’s four? Who wants to disappoint a four-year-old?


So, we spent the better part of this past Sunday measuring flour and butter, rolling pastry dough, peeling apples, and allowing sugar and cinnamon to fly about freely in the kitchen. And it really was fun, as are all of my baking projects with the kids.


But, knowing that I had to write a pastry dough post here, I have to admit to a big old measuring cup’s worth of trepidation. I mean, the pie actually had to look pretty perfect, not to mention taste great.


So I got to thinking that if I have pie dough palpitations, then there must be others of us out there. Prior to my pie making, I wish I’d had the foresight to e-mail my dear friend, Kira O’Donnell, undisputed pie queen and owner of the much-missed Real Pie Company, for her keen insights. However, you can benefit from my bumbling. Here are Kira’s tips for fool-proof pie dough:

• When making pie dough, it’s critical that all ingredients are chilled beforehand

• Let dough rest for at least an hour before rolling it out

• Use a pizza/pie stone, and place pie on lowest rack of oven when baking

• Except for custard pies, serve the pie slightly warm. (Who would choose a cold piece of pie over a warm, cozy piece? Not me.)

• Feel free to experiment with different kinds of fruits – instead of making an all-apple pie, try apple-blueberry, apple-pear, or apple-cranberry!

And there you have it. Let us know if you are reticent to roll up your sleeves and roll out some pie dough. We’d love to hear your true pie confessions!


Pastry for Double-crust Pie (from Better Homes and Gardens New Cookbook, 1989)
2 cups flour
½ tsp. salt
2/3 c. shortening (I used butter)
6-7 T. cold water

In a mixing bowl, stir together flour and salt. Cut in shortening [or butter] till pieces are the size of small peas. Sprinkle 1 tablespoon of the water over part of the mixture; gently toss with a fork. Push to side of bowl. Repeat till all is moistened. Divide dough in half. Form each half into a ball.

On a lightly floured surface, flatten one ball of dough with hands. Roll dough from center to edges, forming a circle about 12 inches in diameter. Wrap pastry around rolling pin. Unroll onto a 9-inch pie plate, being careful not to stretch pastry. Trim pastry even with rim of pie plate.

For top crust, roll remaining dough. Cut slits to allow steam to escape. Fill pastry in pie plate with desired filling. Place top crust on filling. Trim top crust ½ inch beyond edge of plate. Fold top crust under bottom crust; flute edge. Bake as directed in individual [pie filling] recipes.

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4 Comments so far ↓

  • Kim | Nov 20, 2008 at 6:30 pm

    Great tips! Kira is right — all your ingredients need to be super cold. And I think pie crust is the only thing I actually use shortening in. I find that it makes a flaker crust.

  • Eileen | Nov 20, 2008 at 9:04 pm

    yes, it’s pie time! Pumpkin for Thanksgiving. I usually make at least 16 for family and friends. This year I’ve sold a few.

  • Melisssa | Nov 21, 2008 at 9:54 am

    Hi – I’ve been making pies for years and found that I really like the combination of butter/shortening used in Ina Garten’s (Barefoot Contessa) pie crust recipe. She does chill both the butter and the shortening. Somehow the dough seems a bit “stretchier’ and less likely to tear.

    Yum – your pie looks gorgeous – guess it’s time to bake one this weekend!

  • TheJoeReview | Nov 22, 2008 at 7:16 pm

    Hey this looks pretty easy, I think I can handle this one. I’m going to try to surprise my mother in law with a home made pie. Thanks for sharing this recipe