There’s not just one pie crust recipe

CRUST HOW YOU LIKE IT — The main structure of a pie is the pastry crust, and each baker will have his or her own recipe for making a crust to suit the pie. There is graham cracker crust with cream pies; crust made with vegetable oil, butter, shortening and even lard. Some recipes use a bit of vinegar, some a beaten egg and some have a berry pie with a lattice top. -- Esther McCoy

CRUST HOW YOU LIKE IT — The main structure of a pie is the pastry crust, and each baker will have his or her own recipe for making a crust to suit the pie. There is graham cracker crust with cream pies; crust made with vegetable oil, butter, shortening and even lard. Some recipes use a bit of vinegar, some a beaten egg and some have a berry pie with a lattice top. -- Esther McCoy

Fruit pies started to be acceptable when the settlers came to America and didn’t have sufficient meat to make their dinner pastries, so they used the fruit that was more plentiful, with apples being the ones that lasted longer through the season.

Today pies are a popular dessert, and there are so many choices of fillings and crusts to choose from.

Of course the main ingredient to bind with the flour was lard, something that was rendered from the animal that was butchered for the meat supply.

Then came along Aunt Jenny with her Crisco shortening, and the creamy ingredient made excellent pies, too.

Some tips for pie bakers are to protect the edge of the crust from becoming too brown by placing strips of foil around the pie edge.

For a homemade pie look, lightly brush the upper crust of unbaked double-crust pies with an egg wash made by combining two tablespoons of water with one beaten egg.

A chilled pie tastes best if taken out of the refrigerator about 20 minutes before serving.

Sprinkle leftover pie trimmings with graded cheese. Cut into small shapes for shacks. Bake as for tarts.

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Susan Spencer-Smith has at least seven recipes for pie crust. You just have to chose your favorite and make it your own.

Here are some of the recipes.

Pie Crust for Prebaking

1 1/2 cups flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons sugar

2 tablespoons cold milk

1/2 cup vegetable oil

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a large bowl, stir in ingredients until dough forms a ball. Place in a 10-inch pie pan and pat to make crust fit the pan and over the edge. Press edge with a fork and poke the bottom with a fork to keep it from bubbling up. Bake until light brown.

Pie Crust with Egg

4 cups flour

1 tablespoon sugar

2 teaspoon salt

2 cups shortening

1 egg, beaten

1 tablespoon cider vinegar

1/2 cup cold water

In a large bowl, mix flour, sugar and salt. Cut in shortening until mixture forms crumbs the size of peas. Add egg, vinegar and water. Handle lightly — dough will be soft. Refrigerate and use as needed. Keeps for a week. Makes three or four crusts.

Graham Cracker Crumb Crust

1 1/3 cups graham cracker crumbs

1/4 cup sugar

1/4 cup melted butter

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Mix all ingredients well and press firmly on bottom and sides of a 9-inch pie pan. For a baked shell, bake 5 to 8 minutes. For unbaked shell, chill for an hour before putting in the filling.

Pie Crust with Lard

and Shortening

3 cups flour

2/3 cup lard and 1/3 cup shortening

2 teaspoons cider vinegar and enough water to make 1/4 cup

1/4 cup cold milk

1/4 cup vegetable oil

Pinch of salt

Place flour in a large bowl. Cut in shortening and lard. In separate bowl, blend vinegar, water, milk, oil and salt. Blend into flour mixture. Roll out on flour surface. Makes three crusts.

Pie Crust with Oatmeal

1 cup quick-cooking rolled oats

1/3 cup sifted flour

1/3 cup firmly packed brown sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/3 cup cold butter or margarine

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In medium bowl, mix oat, flour, brown sugar and salt. Cut in butter until mixture becomes crumbly. Press firmly on bottom and sides of a 9-inch pie pan. Bake about 15 minutes. Shell may need reshaping after baking, if so, reshape while it is still warm. Cool thoroughly before filling. Good with cream or chiffon filling. May be used instead of graham cracker crust.

Pie Crust with Puffed Rice

1/3 cup light corn syrup

1/3 cup peanut butter

2 cups puffed rice cereal

Mix all ingredients in pie pan and press into place. Fill with ice cream or other filling.

Note: Ten ounces of semi-sweet chocolate chips and 3 tablespoons butter can be melted and puffed rice cereal added. Press into bottom and sides of pan. Chill and add mint ice cream or other ice cream.

Pie Crust with Shortening

1 1/2 cups pastry flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup shortening

4 tablespoons cold milk

In a large bowl, mix flour, baking powder and salt. Cut in shortening. Add milk, a little at a time, mixing constantly with fork until dough forms a ball. Roll out on floured surface. Makes two crusts.

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There is no in between with this pie — people either love it or leave it alone. A raisin pie took first place in the Holiday Cookbook Contest several years back. This one if from Susan Spencer-Smith’s cookbook. It uses a baked pie shell, and the ingredients are cooked and added to the crust.

Raisin Pie

2 cups water

1 1/2 cups raisins

3/4 cup sugar

1/8 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons cornstarch

1/4 cup water

1 tablespoon lemon juice, optional

1 baked pie shell

Sweetened whipped cream

In a medium saucepan, combine 2 cups water, raisins, sugar and salt. Mix well. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Reduce heat and simmer 5 minutes. In a small cup, dissolve cornstarch with 1/4 cup water. Add to raisin mixture. Boil 1 minute. Remove from heat. Add lemon juice, if desired. Pour into baked pie shell. Cool and top with sweetened whipped cream before serving, if desired.

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There was never anything as wonderful as my mom’s homemade butterscotch pie. There was never any boxed mixes for her pie. Here is the one from Susan Spencer-Smith’s cookbook, and the recipe looks much like how she made hers.

Butterscotch Pie

3 tablespoons melted butter

2 cups firm packed brown sugar

4 tablespoons flour

3 egg yolks

2 cups milk

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

9-inch pie shell

Meringue or topping of your choice

Heat butter in medium saucepan. Stir in brown sugar and flour and cook on low heat until dissolved. In a small bowl, mix yolks and milk. Stir egg mixture into brown sugar mixture in saucepan. Cook over low heat until thick. Stir in vanilla. Pour into baked shell. Cool and top with meringue, whipped cream or whipped topping.

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An excellent pie can be made with the canned pie fillings as well. A cookbook from Thank You Brand has a recipe called Peach Crisp that looks interesting.

Peach Crisp Pie

1 egg

2 tablespoons light cream

1 can peach pie filling

8-inch pie shell

2 tablespoons brown sugar

1/4 cup flour

2 tablespoons butter

In medium bowl, beat egg; add cream and stir in pie filling. Spread into pie shell. In a bowl, blend sugar, flour and butter with fork; sprinkle over filling. Bake in 425 degree oven for 10 minutes and reduce heat to 375 and continue baking 30 to 35 minutes or until golden brown.

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This key lime pie is made without baking. It is best to use a graham cracker crumb crust with this pie.

Key Lime Pie

8 ounces cream cheese, softened

1/2 cup key lime or lime juice

1 can sweetened condensed milk, about 14 ounces

1 teaspoon vanilla

9-inch prepared crust

Whipped cream or whipped topping

Lime zest

In a large bowl, combine cream cheese with lime juice and condensed milk. Mix well. Stir in vanilla. Pour into crust and chill several hours. Top with whipped cream and garnish with lime zest.

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This is quite a different type of pie. It has no crust and is light and fluffy with whipped egg whites.

No Crust Pecan Pie

Whites of 3 large eggs, at room temperature

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 cup sugar

1 cup chopped pecans

20 round buttery crackers, crushed

1 teaspoon vanilla

1/2 pint heavy cream whipped

Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Grease an 8-inch or 9-inch pie pan. In large metal bowl, beat egg whites until frothy. Stir in baking powder. Add sugar gradually, beating until stiff. Fold in pecans, cracker crumbs and vanilla. Pour into prepared pan. Bake 30 minutes. Cool. cover with whipped cream. May be prepared and refrigerated 24 hours before serving.

(McCoy can be contacted at emccoy@heraldstaronline.com.)

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