The purpose of a pastry shell was mainly to serve as a baking dish, storage container, and serving vessel, and these are often too hard to actually eat. For hundreds of years, it was the only form of baking container used, meaning everything was a pie. The first pies, called “coffins” or “coffyns” (the word actually meant a basket or box) were savory meat pies with the crusts or pastry being tall, straight-sided with sealed-on floors and lids. Open-crust pastry (not tops or lids) were known as “traps.” These pies held assorted meats and sauce components and were baked more like a modern casserole with no pan (the crust itself was the pan, its pastry tough and inedible). These crust were often made several inches thick to withstand many hours of baking.
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BLEND flour and salt in medium mixing bowl.
CUT chilled shortening into 1/2-inch cubes. Cut in chilled shortening cubes into flour mixture, using a pastry blender, in an up and down chopping motion, until mixture resembles coarse crumbs with some small pea-sized pieces remaining.
SPRINKLE half the maximum recommended amount of ice cold water over the flour mixture. Using a fork, stir and draw flour from bottom of bowl to the top, distributing moisture evenly into flour. Press chunks down to bottom of bowl with fork. Add more water by the tablespoon, until dough is moist enough to hold together when pressed together.
TIP: Test dough for proper moistness by squeezing a marble-sized ball of dough in your hand. If it holds together firmly, do not add any additional water. If the dough crumbles, add more water by the tablespoonful, until dough is moist enough to form a smooth ball when pressed together.
SHAPE dough into a ball for single pie crust. Divide dough in two for double crust or double deep dish crust, one ball slightly larger than the other. Flatten ball(s) into 1/2-inch thick round disk(s).
TIP: For ease in rolling, wrap dough in plastic wrap. Chill for 30 minutes or up to 2 days.
ROLL dough (larger ball of dough for double crust pie) from center outward with steady pressure on a lightly floured work surface (or between two sheets of wax or parchment paper) into a circle 2-inches wider than pie plate for the bottom crust. Transfer dough to pie plate by loosely rolling around rolling pin. Center the rolling pin over the pie plate, and then unroll, easing dough into pie plate.
For a SINGLE pie crust, trim edges of dough leaving a 3/4-inch overhang. Fold edge under. Flute dough as desired. Bake according to specific recipe directions.
For a DOUBLE pie crust, roll larger disk for bottom crust, trimming edges of dough even with outer edge of pie plate. Fill unbaked pie crust according to recipe directions. Roll out smaller dough disk. Transfer dough carefully onto filled pie. Trim edges of dough leaving a 3/4-inch overhang. Fold top edge under bottom crust. Press edges together to seal and flute as desired. Cut slits in top crust or prick with fork to vent steam. Bake according to specific recipe directions.
Two Methods for Pre-baking Pie Crusts (Cream Pies)
- Pre-baking without weights: Thoroughly prick bottom and sides of unbaked pie dough with fork (50 times) to prevent it from blistering or rising. Bake crust in lower third of oven, at 425°F, 10-12 minutes or until edges and bottom are golden brown.
- Pre-baking with weights: Thoroughly prick bottom and sides of unbaked pie dough with fork (50 times) to prevent it from blistering or rising. Chill or freeze for 30 minutes. Line pie dough snugly with foil or parchment paper. Fill with dried beans or pie weights. Bake at 375°F for 20 minutes. Remove foil and weights. Reduce oven to 350°F. Bake 5-10 minutes or until edges and bottom are golden brown.
1 1/3 cups Pillsbury BEST® All Purpose Flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 stick well-chilled Crisco® Baking Sticks All-Vegetable Shortening
OR 1/2 cup well-chilled Crisco® All-Vegetable Shortening
3 to 6 tablespoons ice cold water
2 cups Pillsbury BEST® All Purpose Flour
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 stick well-chilled Crisco® Baking Sticks All-Vegetable Shortening
OR 3/4 cup well-chilled Crisco® All-Vegetable Shortening
4 to 8 tablespoons ice cold water
DEEP DISH DOUBLE CRUST
2 2/3 cups Pillsbury BEST® All Purpose Flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 stick well-chilled Crisco® Baking Sticks All-Vegetable Shortening
OR 1 cup well-chilled Crisco® All-Vegetable Shortening
6 to 10 tablespoons ice cold water