Easy as Pie: How to Make the Perfect Pie Crust

from the pages of the December 2015 issue of Simply Family Magazine. Check out the digital edition here!

photos and recipe by Carole Davenport

If you are like most people, the idea of making a pie might seem like a time consuming and risky dessert to attempt. I hope you will reconsider by trying my Cream Cheese Pie Crust recipe—it is virtually foolproof and “easy as pie”. You’ll see why friends and family alike have given rave reviews for over 20 years. And remember, except for accurate ingredient measurements, this doesn’t need to be perfect—it’s user-friendly!

CREAM CHEESE PIE CRUST

Makes: two-crust pie crust

Ingredients

  • 2-½ cups all-purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 8 oz cream cheese
  • 8 oz butter
  • 2 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
  • 2-4 teaspoon cold water

Directions

  1. Pour flour, salt, and sugar into the bowl of your food processor* and pulse a few times to combine. Cut the cold butter into larger sized pieces on top of the flour. Pulse until the mixture resembles the size of peas. Add the cold cream cheese and pulse until the mixture looks like big crumbs.
  2. Remove the lid and sprinkle the vinegar and 2 tsp of cold water over the dough. Pulse until you see the dough coming together. (You still will see flour and butter that are not yet mixed up). Reach in and remove a fistful. If you squeeze and release, the dough should easily stay together. If not, put back into the food processor and add another 2 tsp of cold water and pulse again 4-5 times.
  3. Have two pieces of plastic wrap ready. Put approximately ½ of the dough onto the first piece of wrap, shape into a thickness of approximately 1” thick, round disk. Wrap it up and repeat with the second half, then refrigerate the dough for a minimum of 20 minutes or overnight.
  4. I use a pastry cloth to roll out my pie dough, but if you don’t have one, tear off two large pieces of waxed paper, placing one of the disks of dough in the center. Cover with the same sized waxed paper. Starting in the middle of the dough, press down and outward rolling the dough into a thin crust. Turn your cloth or paper and roll the other way to create an even thin circle of crust. If the wax paper starts to wrinkle, simply lift off, smooth out, and reuse. Sprinkle flour as needed on rolling pin if dough becomes sticky.
  5. When your crust is approximately 2” wider than the pan you’re using, fold it into quarters, lightly dusting each side with a little flour to prevent it from sticking to itself. Transfer to the pie pan. Unfold and gently press into the pan. If the dough cracks, simply pinch off a small piece of extra dough and patch the hole/tear. Hint: you don’t want any leaks to seep on the pan as its baking.
  6. At this point you can add virtually any pie filling you want. (If you are using crust for a savory pie such as quiche, then eliminate the sugar from this recipe).
  7. Put your filling in carefully, trying to avoid spilling any on the upper edges of your crust. If you are making an apple pie, as I have here, you will remove the second disk of dough from your refrigerator, repeating the process to roll it out and place on top of the pie dish. Flute the edges or simply fold them over together as I have in the photo.
  8. Bake according to the pie filling directions. If the pie begins browning too much on top, simply lay a piece of aluminum foil over the top to stop the browning.

Note: For my apple pie, I’ve selected a nice mixture of apples—both sweet and tart—to make for a better flavor, rather than using all one type.  Come back tomorrow for the recipe for my favorite Apple Pie!

*I use a food processor rather than cutting the cold ingredients in by hand, but you can use either method.

About the author…Carole Davenport is a Montana native, writer, cook, and owner of Bitterroot Fresh Food Styling Photography. She and her daughters are currently compiling a Fresh is Best cookbook using their original recipes.