How to Keep the Bottom Crust of a Pie Flaky

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Flaky pie crusts are light and tasty.
Flaky pie crusts are light and tasty. (Image: apple pie image by leafy from Fotolia.com)

Keeping a pie crust flaky involves three factors: fat distribution, low gluten development and preventing sogginess while the pie bakes. You want to make sure the fat you use is not over-mixed in the dough. Over-mixing will produce a mealy crust. Gluten development will make the crust chewy. Sogginess can be avoided by either providing a barrier in fruit pies or preventing the canned fillings from boiling the crust.

Things You'll Need

  • 2 cups flour
  • 3/4 cup vegetable shortening
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup ice-cold water
  • Salt
  • Eggs
  • White cake pieces
  • Rolling pin
  • Pie tin
  • Pastry brush
  • Plastic wrap

Pie Dough

Chill in the freezer 1/2 cup of water with 1 tsp. of salt stirred into it.

Mix 2 cups flour and 3/4 cups vegetable shortening until the shortening pieces are almond sized.

Mix in the water and salt 1 to 2 tbsp. at a time, just until the dough forms into a loose ball.

Flour your counter and dump the dough out. Lightly roll the dough into a log and wrap it in plastic wrap. Do not knead it. Let it rest in the fridge or freezer overnight.

Let the dough warm on your counter. Knead it slightly before rolling, just enough to make it pliable. Rest the bottoms in the freezer for at least two hours before filling.

Fresh Fruit Pies

Slice the white cake to create a 1/4-inch layer of the bottom of the pie shell and fill the pie on top.

Brush the seam with egg wash. Top the pie, cutting a hole or slices in the top before putting the top on. Pinch the seam closed.

Egg wash the top and bake at 375 Fahrenheit immediately for 40 to 50 minutes.

Canned Pie Fillings

Fill and top as with the fresh fruit pie. Egg wash the top.

Freeze the pie.

Bake the pie frozen without thawing at 375 Fahrenheit for 40 to 50 minutes. This allows the shell to bake before the pie filling starts bubbling.

Cream Pies

Roll your pie dough for the bottom shell as for the other pies, but make holes in the dough with a docker or fork to prevent buckling.

Freeze the shell for at least two hours, then place another tin over top and flip it upside down, keeping both pie shells in place.

Bake for 10 minutes at 400 Fahrenheit for pies that will not need further baking, and for only 5 minutes 400 Fahrenheit for cream pies that need to be baked.

Tips & Warnings

  • Fruit pies often have a coarse sugar sprinkled on the top after the egg wash.
  • Meat pies can be baked the same as the canned filling pies as the filling has been cooked. Omit the white cake layer.
  • If you do not let your pie shells rest, they will shrink when baked.
  • Re-use extra pie dough for bottoms only, not tops, and let it rest overnight in the fridge or freezer first.
  • Do not store pies with sugar on the top in the fridge, sugar draws moisture from the air and it will make your pies soggy on top. Freeze them or bake them immediately.

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