My perfect pie crust recipe is the one pie crust recipe I use most frequently. It makes a big batch, rolls out easily, and is practically foolproof. There are lots of different versions out there for a ‘perfect pie crust’ and most generally have the same ingredients: flour, fat, an egg, an acid, and a bit of sugar.
A typical ‘perfect’ pie crust recipe has a lot of fat in it, and it produces a tender crust that’s flaky. The one that’s in my recipe box is well-stained from constant use, and while I do use other pie crust recipes for different occasions, this is the stand-by one for both sweet or savory tarts in our house: in other words, no matter who makes it, it comes out great.
I’ve often wondered where the origins of the recipe came from, or if someone just thought about putting an egg and vinegar in a pie crust recipe to see how it would perform. When I was flipping through A Modern Manual of Cooking by Marion Harris Neil, published in 1921, I noticed a pastry crust recipe that was similar – it had an acid and an egg, and seemed to be made in the same manner using ingredients with the same end purpose in mind. Could this be the precursor to the hundreds of variations of similar ‘perfect pie crust’ recipes out there? Not sure, but here is the original version, and the one that I use today.
- 2 cups flour
- 3/4 cup Crisco
- 1 egg
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- Sufficient cold water to hold mixture together
- Sift flour, and salt into basin. Flour blade of knife, and chop Crisco into flour, being careful to keep flour between blade of knife and shortening. When mixture looks like meal, add gradually, egg well beaten and mixed with lemon juice. [Note: The recipe doesn't state this, but add enough water to hold the mixture together at this stage.] Roll pastry into ball with knife. May be used at once, but will be improved if allowed to stand in cool place for one hour. Should be rolled out once and handled as lightly as possible. May be used for sweet or savory dishes. Bake in hot oven. The purpose of the addition of lemon is to render gluten of flour more ductile, so that it will stretch rather than break as paste is rolled out, or as it rises in oven. Sufficient for two pies.
Modern Perfect Pie Crust Recipe
Here is a version of the recipe above that I use now. Feel free to substitute the granulated white sugar for another type of sweetener. Other recipes out there use brown sugar, pure maple syrup, or even honey. If you use a liquid sweetener like honey, maple syrup or even molasses, add it to the liquid ingredients then to the flour and shortening mixture.
- 4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1 3/4 cup shortening
- 1/2 cup water
- 1 tablespoon white vinegar
- 1 egg
- Stir the dry ingredients together. Cut in the shortening until the mixture is worked well together. In a small bowl, beat the egg, water, and white vinegar together. Add this to the shortening/flour mixture, and form into a ball. Divide into 3-5 patons, wrap, and chill about an hour before using. This is a large batch, and will make from three to five pie crusts, depending on the size of the pie pan or tart mold.