Most of the year we try to contain ourselves. We eat salads for lunch; we count our calories. Maybe sometimes we even try to cut out carbs. But the time is quickly approaching where all bets are off and no one – not even Jenny Craig – can fault you for engaging in 24 hours of gluttonous overindulgence. Aside from the turkey, a key ingredient to the perfect Thanksgiving dinner is the pie. Here at the Baltimore Chef Shop, we did a little experimenting and came up with a few tips that’ll have your guests asking for dessert first!
A pie is only as good as it’s crust, and years of baking have led us to the most perfect crust recipe. This crust works for sweet or savory pies. We’ve also used it for galettes and empanadas. Basically, this is the only crust recipe you’ll ever need.
1 ¼ c. flour
1 stick butter
½ tsp. salt
½ tsp. sugar
2 tbsp. ice water
1. Scoop flour, sugar and salt into a food processor and pulse to mix.
2. Cut butter into pieces and drop in. Process until the mixture starts to look sandy, with pea sized pieces.
3. Pour in two tablespoons of ice water and pulse a few times. The dough should have come together.
4. Pull dough from processor and work into a disk with your hands, wrap in plastic and put in the fridge to cool for about 30 minutes. This step is important, because without cooling, the dough will be too soft and difficult to roll out.
5. After dough cools, flour your surface and your rolling pin. Unwrap dough and work a little with your hands by squeezing. If you squeeze the dough and it cracks, it needs a little more working. When you squeeze the dough and it doesn’t crack, it’s time to roll out.
*This recipe is enough for the crust. If you want to put a crust on the top of your pie, make two disks of dough.
Now that your dough is rolled out, make sure it’s big enough for your pie dish. Hold the dish over the rolled out dough, and make sure there’s extra dough on all sides (the disk is deep, you need more than you think around the edges!). You want about half an inch of dough hanging over the edge of the pie pan. Your dough should be rolled out pretty far by now, which will make picking it all up fairly difficult unless you have four hands.
Here’s how the pros do it:
1. Flour the whole surface of your dough.
2. Put your rolling pin on the edge of the dough and roll your dough up, around the rolling pin.
3. Unroll your dough into the pan. Voila! No extra hands necessary.
4. After you transfer, tuck in that extra dough around the edges, and use it to crimp. This is called fluting. Use your thumb and forefinger on one hand as a base, and press in with the thumb of your other hand.
The Pie Top
There’s something to be said for the traditional latticework across the top of your favorite pie, but this holiday season we’re all about the unexpected. An easy way to really impress your Thanksgiving guests with your culinary prowess is how you top your pie.
Here’s how it’s done:
1. Trace the size of your pie dish on a piece of paper so you know exactly how much space you have to work with. Then draw (or print) whatever you’d like to decorate your pie with in that circle. Words work here, too.
2. Cut out the pictures or words and lay the paper cut outs on top of your rolled out dough.
3. Use a sharp paring knife to cut the dough around the edges of the paper, just like you would use an Exact-o knife.
4. Lay the decorative dough over your pie filling and bake! Normal baking time applies, but if you have very small pieces of dough on top you may want to keep an eye on it and cover with foil if it starts getting dark too soon.
We have a few favorite ways to fill our pies and have curated some of the best recipes for you to choose from this Thanksgiving. Of course, we recommend always using our simple crust recipe over store bought every time.
This pumpkin pie by NPR (the one pictured in this post; so good!).
This apple pie from the Food Network
This chocolate pecan pie from the New York Times.
This chess pie from Southern Living.
This sweet potato pie by Alton Brown.