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Any way you slice it: homemade pies are the ultimate dessert.


PIES ARE THE PERFECT DESSERT any time of year. In the summertime, cool and creamy pies are a refreshing treat. In the cooler months, nothing is more comforting than a warm slice of fruit pie, especially if it's topped with a scoop of ice cream. And, if you're looking for something to take to a potluck or church supper, you simply cannot go wrong with a pie. After all, who doesn't love pie? It's an American favorite.

According to the American Pie Council website (, pie has been around since the ancient Egyptians. In fact, the Oxford English Dictionary notes that the word "pie" was popular during the 14th century. In those early days, pies were most generally made with meats. It wasn't until the 1500s that fruit pies were first introduced--Queen Elizabeth I is credited with making the first cherry pie.

A perfect pie starts with the crust. While making a pie crust sounds easy enough, a lot of people have trouble with it, and their efforts produce a crust that's anything but light and flaky.

If you're one of those people, and you usually just opt for a store-bought crust, consider trying your hand at the homemade approach again, using the following pie crust recipe--and following the "Tips for Perfect Pastry Every Time" on the next page. It may take a few times to get it right, but you'll eventually get it, and then you'll find it hard to believe you ever bought pie crust from a grocery store.

Grab your apron, roll up your sleeves, and let's get baking!

Yields 3 single pie crusts.

2 cups all-purpose flour, sifted (10 ounces)
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup solid fat (lard, butter or shortening)
1/4 cup cold milk

[1] Preheat oven to 450 F.

[2] In large bowl, combine flour and salt, whisking
to ensure salt gets evenly distributed. With
pastry blender, cut in fat until mixture forms
pea-sized crumbs. Add milk, and mix with fork
until dough comes together in ball.

[3] Divide dough into 3 portions. On lightly
floured work surface, using floured rolling pin,
roll each portion of dough out into circle, about
1/8-inch thick. Carefully transfer to 3 ungreased
8-inch pie plates.

[4] Add filling to unbaked pie shells, and bake
for 15 to 20 minutes, or until filling is bubbly
and crusts are golden brown.

NOTE: If the pie shells need to be baked before
adding your filling, prick the crusts liberally with
a fork, and bake for 12 to 15 minutes, or until
golden brown, in a preheated 400-degree oven.
Cool completely on wire racks before filling.


Yields 1 pie.

Prepared pastry for single-crust pie
12 peach halves
1/4 cup syrup from peaches
3/4 cup brown sugar
6 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1/8 teaspoon mace

[1] Preheat oven to 450 F.

[2] Roll out pastry to form 11-inch circle. Transfer
pastry to 9-inch pie plate. Cut strips from
leftover pastry scraps, and set aside.

[3] Arrange peach halves, cut side up, over
pastry in pie plate. Set aside.

[4] In saucepan over medium heat, combine
syrup, brown sugar, butter, flour, lemon juice
and mace. Cook, stirring constantly, until sauce
thickens. Pour over peaches in pie plate. Cover
with pastry strips, in crisscross pattern.

[5] Bake for 15 minutes. Reduce oven temperature
to 400 F, and bake for another 30 minutes,
or until crust is golden brown. Cool slightly.


Yields 1 pie.

2 cups all-purpose flour (10 ounces)
1 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup lard or other solid shortening
1/2 cup finely crushed pecans
1/4 cup cold apple cider
7 tart apples, peeled, cored and sliced
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 cup diced candied fruit
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 tablespoon cold butter, cut into bits
1 egg yolk

[1] Preheat oven to 425 F.

[2] In large bowl, combine flour and salt. Cut
in lard with fork or pastry blender until dough
resembles giant peas. Mix in pecans. Sprinkle
apple cider on dough, a spoonful at a time, and
mix gently until dough holds together.

[3] Divide dough into 2 balls. On lightly floured
surface, with floured rolling pin, roll out each
ball of dough to form 11-inch circle, about 1/8-inch
thick. Transfer 1 dough circle to 9-inch pie
plate, and trim dough so 1/2 inch extends beyond
rim. Leave other dough circle where it is.

[4] In large bowl, combine apples, nutmeg, cinnamon,
sugar, raisins, candied fruit and lemon
juice, and toss gently to coat. Spoon filling into
crust in pie plate. Scatter butter bits over filling.
Cover with top crust, and flute edges to seal.
Prick top crust with fork.

[5] In bowl, beat egg yolk with whisk. Brush over
top crust.

[6] In bowl, combine a little additional cinnamon
and sugar, and mix. Sprinkle over crust.

[7] Bake for 50 to 60 minutes, or until apples
are tender and crust is golden.


Yields 1 pie.

1 cup raisins
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup mild-tasting honey (such as clover or alfalfa)
1 tablespoon butter
1 egg yolk
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1/4 cup chopped nuts
Prepared pastry for double-crust pie

[1] Preheat oven to 350 F.

[2] In saucepan over medium heat, stew raisins
in water until tender, about 15 minutes. Stir in
honey, butter, egg yolk, flour and nuts, and continue
cooking until mixture thickens. Set aside.

[3] Roll out half the pastry dough to form 11-inch
circle. Transfer to 9-inch pie plate, and trim
edges, leaving 1/2-inch overhang.

[4] Pour filling into pastry in pie plate.

[5] Roll out remaining pastry dough to form
12-inch circle. Place overfilling, and seal and
flute edges.

[6] Bake for about 40 minutes, or until crust is
golden. Cool before slicing.

NOTE: If desired, this pie can be prepared with
a single crust and a meringue topping instead
of a double crust. Simply place the filling in a
baked pie crust, and cover with prepared meringue.
Bake until meringue is nicely browned,
about 10 to 12 minutes.


Yields 1 pie.

1 1/2 cups blueberries
1 1/2 cups raspberries
1 cup blackberries
1 cup sugar
3 tablespoons quick-cooking tapioca
Prepared pastry for double-crust pie
1 tablespoon butter, cut into bits

[1] Preheat oven to 400 F.

[2] In large bowl, gently stir together berries,
sugar and tapioca. Let stand at room temperature
for 15 minutes.

[3] Roll out half the pastry dough into 11-inch-diameter
circle on lightly floured surface. Transfer
pastry to 9-inch pie plate, and trim, leaving
1/2-inch overhang.

[4] Pour berry mixture into pastry in pie plate.
Dot with butter.

[5] Roll out remaining pastry to form 12-inch
circle. Carefully place over filling. Seal and flute
edges. Cut several slits in top pastry to permit
steam to escape.

[6] Bake for 1 hour, or until crust is golden and
juices form bubbles that burst slowly. Cool
completely before serving.


Yields 1 pie.

1 cup sour cream
1 cup cherries, pitted
3 eggs, separated
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1/2 cup plus 3 tablespoons sugar, divided
1 baked 9-inch pie shell

[1] Preheat oven to 350 F.

[2] In saucepan over medium heat, combine
sour cream, cherries, egg yolks, flour and 1/2 cup
sugar. Cook until thick, stirring constantly.

[3] Pour thickened filling into baked pie shell.
Set aside.

[4] In small bowl, using electric mixer, beat egg
whites with remaining sugar until stiff. Spread
meringue over pie filling.

[5] Bake for 10 to 15 minutes, or until meringue
is nicely browned.



* WEIGH YOUR FLOUR: Most recipes measure flour by volume instead of weight, meaning they call for 1 cup of flour instead of 5 ounces. A perfectly measured cup of flour weighs 5 ounces. However, that same cup will weigh less if you pack the flour too loosely, and it will weigh more if you pack it in the measuring cup too tightly. To be sure you're using the proper amount of flour, weigh it on a kitchen scale.

* USE COLD INGREDIENTS: All of your ingredients should be cold--including the flour and salt--to achieve the best results. The fat especially needs to be very cold, so it stays solid during the mixing process. (Put your shortening in the freezer for a bit to make sure it's good and cold, almost frozen.) Once the prepared pastry goes into the oven, the shortening will melt, creating small air pockets between the layers of dough, which is what produces a tender, flaky crust.

* MIX DOUGH WITH FOOD PROCESSOR: You've more than likely heard that minimal handling of the dough will help ensure flakiness --and that's true. The more you mix pastry dough, the tougher it will be. Using a food processor mixes the dough quickly and lightly--way more lightly than mixing it with your hands. To mix your dough in a food processor, combine two-thirds of the flour with salt, and pulse a few times to evenly distribute the salt. Add all of the shortening, and pulse until a ball forms around the blade, about two minutes. Add the remaining flour, and process until mixture forms coarse crumbs, about another minute. With the food processor running, add your cold liquid, a little at a time, and process just until the mixture begins to form a ball. You may or may not need all the liquid called for in the recipe. Remove dough from the food processor, and squeeze it gently with your hands a couple of times to form a ball. Wrap dough in plastic wrap, and place it in the refrigerator to chill until firm.

* CHILL YOUR DOUGH AND ROLLING PIN: To make rolling easier, chill the pastry dough for at least an hour. When you put your dough in the refrigerator, put your rolling pin there, too. Using a cold rolling pin will keep the shortening particles from breaking down and melting during the rolling process.

Article by Traci Smith Photography by Lori Dunn


For a deliciously different cream pie, try Makes-Its-Own-Crust Coconut Pie (

Traci Smith lives in rural Osage County, Kansas. She enjoys cooking and baking, doing craft projects, and spoiling her Labrador Retrievers.
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Title Annotation:Comfort Foods
Author:Smith, Traci
Article Type:Cover story
Date:Sep 1, 2016
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