Pies are the shining show-stoppers of any holiday meal. Wow your family even more this year by making your own crusts! You can make them ahead of time and freeze so you don’t worry about the extra work. Learn how to make the best flaky pie crust recipe that is both delicious and healthy.
In my family, pies have been a tradition any time of year, not just around the holidays. Pies were a quick way to serve up any fruit that was going spoil, extra eggs that needed to be used or just a special dessert.
Being a family of six, we could easily eat four pies in a few day’s time. Mom’s flaky pie crust recipe made four pies so that was the magic number.
Instead of making a big mess for just one pie, she used the same amount of mess and just a hair more time to make four pies.
Make the Flaky Pie Crust Recipe Ahead of Time: To Freeze
Because her pies were gobbled down so quickly, my mom never had the need to freeze crust or pies.
Now that I have my own little family of three, we can only take on one pie at a time. Yet I still don’t want to make a huge mess just for one pie.
So with a bit of experimenting I’ve mastered the art of freezing crusts and pies so I still make four crusts (I scaled down this recipe to two crusts for you!) every time I make pies.
There are several different stages at which you can freeze this flaky pie crust recipe.
- If you don’t have much freezer space or many pie pans , simply shape the dough into two balls. Wrap the balls of dough in two layers! This is important because fat (the lard and the butter) absorbs smells very easily.
I wrap mine in plastic wrap and then put the balls of dough together in a bigger bag. If you are trying to avoid plastic against your food, wrap the balls in parchment or wax paper and then in plastic wrap.
Simply take a ball of dough out of the freezer and let it thaw on the counter for several hours before rolling into a crust.
- If you have enough pie pans, go ahead and roll out the dough and place it in the pan keeping the edges flat. Place a piece of plastic wrap, wax or parchment paper over the dough and set the next pie pan inside it. You can stack these pretty high to save freezer space. After you have all your crusts made, wrap the whole stack in plastic wrap. Then slide the stack in a grocery bag and tie it off.
An hour or so before you need a crust, pull it out of the freezer. Uncover it completely while thawing. [Condensation trapped by the plastic wrap will make the crust soggy.]
- If you don’t have time to do any baking the day you need your pies, go ahead and flute the edges and pour in the filling. Bake them as the recipe calls for. After the pies have cooled, wrap them in two layers and place them in the freezer. After they have frozen solid you may stack them.
The day you need the pies, pull them out of the freezer several hours beforehand. Thaw them completely unwrapped. Twenty minutes before serving, pop them in the oven to warm them a bit. Enjoy “fresh baked” pies!
[This last method of freezing the whole pie will not work well for cream or custard pies.]
Read More: Cooking for the Freezer
It’s Good to Be Flaky!
The butter and lard are what make the flakiness.
In fact, I was given some bear lard last winter. It makes the absolute flakiest pie crust ever. So flaky the dough doesn’t even hold together!
The only lard I’ve found in stores is partly hydrogenated. I try to avoid hydrogenated fats whenever I can. So I stopped by our local butcher and bought leaf lard. I rendered it down and made my own lard. Or just buy some lard!
You can also use saved bacon grease – after all, it is just seasoned lard. I only use bacon grease in place of plain lard when I make a quiche. The extra flavor from the bacon grease accents quiche very well!
Read More: Breakfast Quiche Recipe
Flaky Pie Crust Recipe
Combine all the ingredients except the water. Using your hands or a pastry blender, combine the ingredients until the dough is fine crumbs.
Add the cold water a little at a time, stirring well with a fork between each addition. Part of what makes pie crusts flaky is not activating the gluten too much by excessive working of the dough.
Add water until there are no fine crumbs left on the bottom of the bowl.
Spread a bit of flour on your surface. Have your rolling pin handy and the pie pans.
For a 9 inch pan, work enough dough together to make a ball slightly smaller than a soft ball. Work it until it hangs together and then stop.
Roll the dough thin (1/8 of an inch) on your floured surface. If you don’t have a rolling pin just use a glass or a jar.
When I was in college I didn’t have a rolling pin so I just patted the dough into the pans very thinly. [Actually I didn’t have pie pans either so I used the kitchen’s cast iron skillets. We wanted pie bad!]
Gently lift one side of the dough circle and fold it over the other. Lift it into the pie pan.
Pat it down into the pie pan and make sure the top edges are laying flat. With a knife, cut along the outer edge to get rid of any excess dough.
Flute the edges however you like! If you don’t want edges that stick up from the pie, just press the edges with the tines of a fork. Check out this video for other cool edging ideas! [I do something similar to #14 at 1:15.]
Bake the Flaky Pie Crust Recipe Ahead of Time: Pudding or Fresh Fruit Pies
If you plan on making fresh fruit or pudding pies (any pie that calls for a baked crust) you can make your crust a day or two in advance. [Check out my fresh strawberry pie recipe without artificial food colorings!]
After you have the dough in pans, flute the edges. With a fork, poke holes everywhere. This will let the air out as it bakes and prevent air bubbles.
Bake at 425° for 12 minutes or until the crust can slide around in the pan. Let cool and cover with a kitchen towel until you are ready to fill it.
Flaky Pie Crust Recipe
- 2 cups Flour Can use pastry flour for an even flakier crust.
- 1/2 cup Lard
- 3 tbsp Butter
- 1/2 tsp Salt
- Cold Water
Let lard and butter sit out for an hour or two to come to room temperature.
In a large bowl, combine flour, lard, butter and salt. Mix with your hands or a pastry blender until the dough is fine crumbs.
Using a fork to stir, drizzle in the cold water a little at a time combining well after each addition. Add water until there are no powdery fine crumbs left on the bottom of the bowl.
Scoop up a double handful of crumbs and form into a ball. Roll out the dough on a floured surface to an 1/8 of an inch. Gently place it in your pie pan. Fit the dough and flute the edges before filling.
Pin this to save for later!