Tag Archives: pie crust

Pie Cookies from Perfect Pie Crust

Among the things those ancestors who haunt my kitchen keep telling me–“Don’t throw away perfectly good food!” Following the waste-not-want-not philosophy of all those lovely ladies in my family, who never allowed a leftover to go to waste, we don’t toss the scraps of pie dough after rolling out the pie, instead we get creative with pie cookies.

Look at all those scalloped edges that are going to be trimmed. Where will that excess dough go?

Pie crust pastryrolled out

Of course when you are making several pie crusts at once, you can shove the bits and pieces to the side and hope you have enough to make another crust, but re-rolling the crust too many times is going to degrade the flakiness quotient.

Mini pie plates

Mother’s mini pie plates

Mother had a couple of small pie tins that she used to make mini-pies for the mini-people at our holiday feasts–you know, the ones who sat at the kitchen table, before they graduated to the grown up table with linens and silverware. (I put a measuring cup beside the mini pie pans to give you perspective.) And if you have mini tins, you might make a mini pie.

But following in the footsteps of the frugal forebears, I gather up all the little pieces, roll them gently out one more time, and make pie cookies.  Lots of people do this, but everybody seems to have a different name. What do you call the little treats you make with leftover dough?

This is definitely time to get creative.   You can use regular cookie cutters, or just use whatever is on hand. Make them thin, because they’e going to puff up, and they’ll be tenderer if they’re thin.

 

Cutting Pie Cookies

Cutting Pie Cookies With Whatever You Have

No need to grease the cookie sheet. There’s plenty of shortening in the dough.  You might want to use parchment, however, if you are using sticky fillings that might ooze out.

Many shapes of Pie Cookies

Get creative with shapes and toppings or fillings of Pie Cookies

In this picture you can see some of the additions I used this time.  The small dish with a brush has some milk to brush on the tops so the pastry won’t look–well–pasty.

I keep a sprinkler jar of cinnamon sugar around for when I have an urge for cinnamon toast, and this is my favorite topping for pie cookies. (I add some powdered cocoa to my cinnamon and sugar.)

I always have leftover colored sugar and sprinkles left from cookie decorating marathons with my grandchildren. This time I used some blue sugar, for a strange little cookie that reminds me of a lava lamp.  

I usually use some fruit jam for a tiny tart. But dear, dear, I was out of jam–so I tried Nutella®.  This is one of those foods that it is okay to eat even though your grandmother never heard of it.  Chocolate hazlenut spread. Beyond delicious. (These are for Kristen Jafek Gough, since she likes to use this spread over at My Kids Eat Squid . She even made a pie with Nutella.)

As you see, I tried lots of different shapes. I neglected to make a small square, which is folded over into a triangle with jam in the middle. But despite all the possibilities of carefully sculpted shapes, my favorite thing is to just chop off an irregular piece that is left from the edge of the pie and leave the shape as is.  Then you can play “what does this look like?” as you nibble.

 

Pie Cookies make an atoll of islands

Pie Cookies make an atoll of islands

Bake the pie cookies in a 375 degree oven for 15-20 minutes, depending on how well your oven heats and what kind of pan you are using.  Watch carefully after ten minutes because they can go from perfectly browned to burnt in seconds. This is one time when that light bulb inside the oven can really come in handy, so you don’t have to keep opening the door.

Here are a few of the cookies. (We ate the rest as soon as they came out of the oven smelling all floury and buttery and sugary). The Nutella is a real winner, by the way.

Finished  pie cookies

Finished idiosyncratic pie cookies

Pie cookies will always be delicious if you have a delicious pie crust recipe to start with, and of course now that you know about the Perfect Pie Crust, you definitely will make champion pie cookies. In the spirit of fairness, I have to mention the pie challenge throw down that came from Kris Bordessa in Hawaii, with her similar but not identical heritage recipe for pie crust at Attainable Sustainable. Feel free to compare our pie crusts for your pie cookies.

And do share your own creative uses for leftover pie dough. But never, never throw it away!

Perfect Pie Crust

Everyone has a theory about making pastry. A landscaper was trimming some bushes for me last week as I was baking a peach pie.  “Smells good” he said. “I like to make pies,” I said, “and I have a secret recipe for the perfect pie crust.”  “Do you chill the butter?” he asked.

Like I said–everyone has a theory about making pastry. (Feel free to share yours in the comment section.)

One of the most prevalent theories is that making pastry is too difficult, and you should just buy one of those things in the grocery store that are called pie crust but actually resemble cardboard more than pastry.  Just as I told you last week that you did not need to let eggs beat you when you want to make a meringue, I’m telling you now that making pastry for pie crust can be simple as—of course–pie.

This recipe for pie crust is like the foremothers of mine who lived on farms. Pretty, but flexible, adaptable, and ready to take on any job you give her.

I have said before that ancestors frequently stand looking over my shoulder as I cook. Memories crowd the kitchen.  Well there’s quite a mob when I bake a pie.  Grandpa (Daddy Guy) Anderson says–“Handle the dough with a light touch and don’t roll back and forth with the rolling pin.”  Grandma (Vera Anderson) says, “Here, use my pastry cloth and rolling pin cover.”

making pastry equipment

Pastry cloth and rolling pin.

So I dutifully unroll the pastry cloth that has seen hundreds and hundreds of pie crusts and biscuits roll by, and I place it on a silicone mat to keep it from slipping, an advantage Grandma did not have.  And I slide the rolling pin into its t-shirt, and scatter flour over everything.

Then when it is time to choose the shortening–both Mother (Harriette Kaser) and Grandmother say, “Crisco is all you need.”  I sometimes rebel and use margarine, because I slightly prefer the effect and the taste.  And I suspect that Grandma used lard back before Upton Sinclair spread some horror stories. If you’re curious, read or listen to the story here.

And as I prepare to measure the tricky 1 3/4 cups of shortening called for in the recipe, mother reminds me that “Crisco displaces the same volume as water, so for 3/4 C of Crisco, put 1/4 cup of water in the cup, and fill it with Crisco until the water is about to spill over. Drain the water off, and you’ll have the proper amount of Crisco.” Of course you could use a 1/4 C measure and then a 1/2 cup measure, but then you’d have all those cups to measure, and anyhow, I still kinda like the little trick.

Finally, unless there’ s someone out there who hasn’t spoken up, there’s a non-blood relative–the mother of my sister-in-law, whose pastry blender I inherited when I helped sort out her things after she passed away.

Pastry Blender

Norma (Sr.) Haggburg’s Pastry Blender

And I don’t think it would upset Norma Sr. to know that I don’t always use the pastry blender, since I long ago got in the habit of holding two knives together as pictured below in the recipe.

But with all these people helping, you can see how I could not possible make a bad pie crust. Well, actually, I could until I found this recipe for a Perfect Pie Crust.  Perhaps it should be called the lazy cook’s pie crust because it makes you look good with little effort. And if it has holes or gaps–just patch it. It will never show.

And because its a sizable recipe, you’re ready to make two double-crust pies plus a single crust pie, or any combination. And you’ll always have some pastry left over for pie cookies.  Maybe I should talk about pie cookies another day.

Let’s talk about

The Perfect Pie Crust

Perfect Pie Crust

Allergy Egg, Wheat
Meal type Dessert
Misc Freezable
This is a tender, flaky pie crust that is hard-working and not too delicate to accept patching and shaping.

Ingredients

  • 4 Cups flour (all purpose)
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 3/4 cup shortening (Vegetable shortening or butter or margarine)
  • 1 tablespoon vinegar
  • 1 egg (large)
  • 1/2 cup water

Directions

1. Blending pie crust pastry
Mix flour, sugar and salt. Cut in shortening with pastry blender or two knives until crumbly.
2. Mix water and vinegar.
3. Pie crust pastry ingredients
Beat egg into other liquid.
4. Pie crust dough
Mix all together with fork or hands.
Preparing pastry
5. Pie crust dough
Divide pastry into 5 portions. Wrap and chill in refrigerator at least one hour. If not using in 3 days, put in container or ziplock bag and freeze.
Forming and baking pie crust
6. Pie crust pastryrolled out
After chilling, roll out dough with rolling pin to rough circle about three inches larger than pan. Fold dough and place in pie pan for bottom crust.
7. pie crust dough in pan
Trim edge leaving at least 1/2 inch above pan. For 2-crust pie, fill pie and roll out top crust. Dip finger in water and run around the edge of the bottom crust. Place the top crust over the filling and pinch the edges all around.
8. pie crust vents
Cut slits for steam to escape at random spots on top of pie. Brush a very small amount of milk over the pie top for a shiny finish. Sprinkle with a spoonful of sugar for a glaze.
9. Bake according to directions for the pie.

Note

If you are making a single crust to fill later, roll out the dough a for the bottom crust and fit it into the pan, leaving enough at the top to allow for shrinkage. With a fork, make holes in two or three places on the bottom. Layer beans or pie weights (you can buy these little metal "beans" in a kitchen-supply store.) Bake at 450 degrees for 12-15 minutes, watching closely so edge does not get too brown. You may find it safer (if not exactly easy) to fold aluminum foil into strips and cover the edges of the crust as it bakes.