I remember going to my grandma’s for the day, or even overnight, and she would have to find various ways to entertain me. I couldn’t have been much older than 4-6 and I’d laugh at the way she cooled coffee on her saucer and drank it, begged for chocolate ice cream, made brownies and fudge (and once, my cousin and I accidentally double an ingredient, so when we got in the car to go home with my mom, we had to confess. Luckily Grandma had sent the pot home with us because it hadn’t cooked yet, so mom finished out the recipe and we had fudge for forever).
And of course – we made pies!
To be honest, I was never a huge fan of pies, but I liked making them with her. She had attended Berea College in Kentucky and while getting her teaching degree she worked at a restaurant and would make upwards of 25 pies a day!
Which was a good thing, because when my mom married my dad, he loved pies. Not only that, he was/is diabetic, so Grandma fixed the recipe to accommodate no sugar (at that time – “Sweet 10”; now the solution is Splenda). My mom didn’t (and still doesn’t) particularly like to make pies, but Grandma always made the best ones – because she had done it so many times!
I must have gotten my love of cooking and baking from Grandma. I now love pie – and even the crust! For so long I would eat the filling part, but would leave the crust (or feed it to the dog …). It’s also become a way to remember my Grandma. Pies in any shape and form, warm, cold, fruit-filled or cream, with or without ice cream. We now have to visit restaurants known for their pie and test them out (and sometimes we can’t figure out what everyone is raving about because we like ours better!).
She had her tried-and-true crust recipe, and then my Great Aunt Clara (Grandma’s sister-in-law) gave her a recipe, and I swear she said she liked it best and that’s what she used until her passing; mom remembers otherwise. But to this day, I use “Aunt Clara’s Pie Crust” for my pies, and it hasn’t really failed me yet! I even went so far as to make it for a chicken pot pie, and I couldn’t believe how it turned out. Amazing. That’s how it turned out.
Some people swear by butter crusts or even lard crusts. I have yet to try a lard crust (that I know of), and I’ve never made one, but I’m pretty set on mine as it is. Some day I may try the recipe using lard just to see how it turns out.
Aunt Clara’s Pie Crust
- 3 c flour
- 1 1/2 c shortening
- 1 tsp sugar (even for sugar-free pies)
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 c water
Combine first four ingredients. Add water. Preferably refrigerate before rolling out for crust, but can be used right away with a bit of care and patience (or frustration – whichever you prefer!).
I use my hand – I do not use a mixer or anything. Once in a while I’ll use a biscuit or dough cutter. I don’t know how much of an influence the dough cutter has, other than it keeps my hand clean! But I wouldn’t recommend a mixer – you want to mix and be done with as little handling as possible. It’s just my opinion, but that’s my mantra going into making pie crust. I feel like the more you mess with it the tougher it gets.
If there’s leftover crust, we’ll throw the bits in the freezer, accumulate a few, then pull them out, thaw, and use them for another pie. Once again – handling them and putting them in the freezer makes them a bit more tough, but they’re definitely still edible!
Good luck! Please try it and let me know how it works for you!
Do you have a “tried-and-true” pie crust recipe? I’d love to hear about it! Tell me in the comments or Contact us!