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Twenty Useful Pastry Shell Tips

Is it your first time making a pie crust? Or perhaps you have tried making pastry shells in the past, and it just did not turn out how you thought it would? Check out these tips! The tips here are specific to my water whipped baked pastry shell, but some of them are generic. If you haven't seen my pastry shell post check it out here!

Twenty useful Tips:

1. For many years, I used Crisco shortening when making pastry dough. Crisco uses hydrogenated fats in their shortening, so I stopped using this product. Hydrogenated fats have proven to be detrimental to your health, so I try to avoid these fats as much as possible. That's not to say that you shouldn't use it if that's the only product you can find. It is just my preference. I use Spectrum, a non-hydrogenated all vegetable shortening that I found at the health food store. The texture is a little softer than Crisco, but it works just as well. You can also buy it at Amazon.

2. I microwave the measured water to boiling - easy!

3. You may want to put your deep mixing bowl in the sink to mix The liquid does tend to splash! Start on the low speed and work up to medium to control splashing.

4. I dump all of the flour/salt mixture into the liquid mixture all at once. I mix the dough, until I see it is all incorporated together. Then, with a rubber spatula, I flip the dough over, and I see that it needs a little more mixing. I like to mix, until I see no more heavily white streaks in the dough.

5. When I finish mixing, I use my rubber spatula to form a ball in the dough. I then place this ball on a piece of wax paper. With a butter knife, I cut down the middle to divide in half.

6. Have a piece of wax paper and two pieces of plastic wrap ready before handling the mixed dough.

7. As quickly as possible, shape the two portions of dough into two disks. This will help the rolling out into a circle easier (the less handling of the dough, the better the result).

8. Before you roll out your dough (after the 4 hours of chilling) take two pieces of foil, and place them in an empty pie plate. Form the foil into the plate by pressing in firmly. Have your pie weights or beans ready too. You do not want to do this step after your dough is in the plate because this process can damage your shell!

9. Depending on the shortening you use, you may have to let your dough rest on the counter for up to 30 minutes before you can roll it flat. I find, when Crisco is used, you can roll it out immediately. When I use the non-hydrogenated shortening, I have to let it sit at room temperature for about 20 to 25 minutes, otherwise it is too stiff to roll out flat.

10. When rolling out your dough, try to roll out the dough from the center of the circle while applying light pressure on your rolling pin. Work your way around the circle in this fashion (always starting from the center and moving to the edge). The lightest pressure should be applied when your rolling pin is at the edge of your crust. This does take practice but don't lose heart! You will get the hang of it.

11. When I remove the top piece of wax paper, I like to go around the edge with my two fingers to smooth out the ridges. I feel this helps prevent tearing in the crust.

12. When you flip (or invert) your crust on to the pie plate, let it rest on top of the rim of your plate. You will fit in your dough after you remove the last piece of wax paper. When you remove the wax paper, go slow! If you go too fast, your crust is more apt to tear. If it does tear, gently remove with the tip of your finger from wax paper. Then leave it for later repair. Your goal right now is the removal of the wax paper.

13. Once the wax paper is removed, gently lift the edge of the crust, and fit it in the plate. Work your way around the plate - gently lifting and fitting in the pie plate. You may have some tearing at the edges. It's no problem! Just gently press the torn edges together to repair the crust.

14. Once the crust is fitted in the plate, you can gently press any tears (from when you removed the wax paper) together to repair your crust.

15. The crust does not have to fit in the plate perfectly. Do not press in the crust. If you do, your crust will stick to the plate after baking. You will not be able to remove a piece of pie without leaving some crust stuck to the dish!

16. If you have an excess of crust hanging over certain parts of your pie plate, trim them with scissors. The goal is to have an evenly distributed amount of pie crust hanging over your plate.

17. Now gently pick up the edge of your crust and roll the dough under it, until it reaches the rim of your plate. The rim of the pie plate is your guide. When I start rolling the dough under the crust, I tend not to let go of the edge, until I have completed the circle. When I have let go during the process, no harm was done, but I wanted you to know that generally it is a continuous motion for me.

18. When you have your edge rolled, flute or crimp your edge. I have several ways of doing this, but my go-to edge is what I have pictured. As you can see, I use my thumb and forefinger on the outside of the crust. Work your way around the plate, gently forming your crimped edge.

19. Place your prepared foil on top of the dough. Do not press down hard! Gently, fit the foil in your shell. Place the weights or beans on top of the foil. Bake according to directions.

20. I have used this crust for an unbaked pie shell recipe as well. The filling is poured in the unbaked shell. The crust and the filling are baked all at once.

I know this is a lot of information, but I wanted to give you as much help as I can give! Honestly, I have been doing this so long that it is second nature to me. This process takes very little time once you get the hang of it!

(edited by Anna Weicht)

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