Great Pie Begins with a Buttery, Flaky Crust

Author: Meera, September 4, 2016

My stalwart Scots-Irish grandmother was thrifty and talented when it came to food preparation. She made delicious pies from cherry, rhubarb, peaches, apples, pears, and sweet berries of every kind, including gooseberries. Her pies were my childhood delight when I lived with her and my grandfather on their Boone County, Missouri farm.



She made delicious meat pies from meats she’d preserved by canning. Missouri winters could be harsh. Those meat pies nourished me when the snow piled up outside the windows, and it was too cold to make a trek to the smoke house where her prized Boone County hams hung from hooks.



Crust and "mile-high" meringue finish off this old fashion vinegar pie that tastes like lemon

Flaky crust and tall meringue finish off this old-fashion vinegar pie.



Sometimes, my grandmother combined fruits or berries in a rustic pie (today, we call it a galette) and on other occasions, she made a raisin, pecan, pumpkin, coconut, or a custard pie. And meringue, if used, was high and sweet and just the right shade of golden brown. But it was the pie crust that I loved.



For the top of a peach pie, she’d cut in a large curve shaped like a branch. Then two or three other lines would curve from it. Lastly, she cut teardrop shapes along the arch lines so the top crust art would suggest a peach tree branch. When she worked crisscross strips atop a cherry pie, it was both beautiful and delicious.



I like to roll out the crust between plastic wrap

Storing or rolling the crust between sheets of plastic wraps is a good way to avoid handling the crust with your hands.




The secret to her buttery, flaky crust was not to handle it too much. Today, I make the same recipe but in my food processor. Like her, I use chilled or ice water, adding only drops at at time as the food processor is pulsing the dough–only enough to get the dough clinging together. The point is to move the dough from dry and crumbly to clumping into a ball.




A fluted crust is ready for almost any kind of filling

This fluted crust is ready for almost any kind of filling. I will prick the bottom and sides with a fork before filling and baking.




After the dough is made, I dump it from the food processor bowl onto aluminum foil or plastic wrap and work it into a ball (without touching it). The dough goes into the fridge for a chill over an hour and up to 24 hours. The recipe makes enough for a pie top and bottom or a couple of pies requiring only the bottom crust.





2 1/2 cups flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon granulated sugar

1 cup chilled unsalted butter, cut into pieces

1/4 (plus a few tablespoons more if necessary) cold or ice water




Add the dry ingredients (flour, salt, and sugar) in the food processor bowl.

Cut the butter into small chunks and drop the pieces in. Pulse into a crumbly, dry meal.
Add ice water to the mixture in the bowl by dropping spoonfuls through the feeding tube and pulsing after each addition.
Remove the dough when it clings together–neither too wet nor too dry–by dumping it out on a large sheet of aluminum foil or plastic wrap.
Mold the dough into a ball and flatten  into a thick disk to make it easier to roll out.
Chill for an hour or up to 24 hours.


Makes two buttery, flaky crusts.



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If you enjoy reading about farmette topics (including gardening, beekeeping, and delicious recipes), check out my cozy mysteries A BEELINE TO MURDER and also THE MURDER OF A QUEEN BEE in the Henny Penny Farmette series (from Kensington Publishing).




These novels are available through online retailers such as Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo Books, and Walmart as well as from traditional bookstores everywhere.



The first novel in the Henny Penny Farmette series


Now available in mass market paperback, this debut novel launched the Henny Penny Farmette series of mysteries and sold out its first press run.





The second cozy  mystery in the Henny Penny Farmette series, available Sept. 29, 2016


The second cozy mystery in the Henny Penny Farmette series, available Sept. 27, 2016, is now available on Net Galley ( for professionals and readers who write reviews.





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