Making a good flaky pie crust is an art, a skill, a gene that some of us simply don't have.
I had a Thanksgiving Day conversation with someone I know who is always able turn out the perfect pie crust from scratch and makes wonderful pies. She said she doesn't know what the secret is, she just does it. She's teaching her daughter, who was the one who made the pies this year. The daughter must be catching on--I was impressed that three days after T-Day the crust on the leftover chocolate pie had yet to turn soggy. Mom's scoring on her daughter's pie crusts that day was "better". Perhaps it's just a matter of patience and practice.
She offered me a couple of tips that she says works for her:
1) She said that most recipes say to mix the dough with the pastry blender until it turns to crumbs. She said she does that then keeps on blending for a while longer.
2) She said that if she needs a single pie crust she makes up a recipe for two crusts; if she needs a double pie crust she makes up a batch for three crusts--that way the dough doesn't have to be overmanipulated when trying to get it to fit on the pan--there is plenty left over. So this is a good way to not over handle the dough.
For those of us who lack the light touch (or whatever the darn secret is) that's necessary for turning out decent pie crusts, Pillsbury has always been around to help.
In the 40's they brought us their Pie Crust Mix that came in a box. I remember using this product but it never worked for me personally any better than mixing it up from scratch.
Then came the refrigerated All Ready Pie Crusts that came already rolled out and folded neatly into a box. I believe these came out sometime in the 80s. Okay, at last I could finally make a passable pie, trying out many of the pie recipes that I had clipped and saved, ever hopeful of the day that I would learn the secret to making pie crusts.
As with everything, they've improved and changed the product around. In 2004 Pillsbury introduced the refrigerated Unroll and Bake Pie Crust, which comes rolled instead of folded.
I believe that you could substitute these new pie crusts in the recipes that call for the old version of pie crusts in the booklet Pillsbury published called All Ready Pie Crusts - Four Seasons of Pie Baking
(1988, 52 pp).
Consumers could get this booklet free at the grocery store with the purchase of 2 packages of Pillsbury All Ready Pie Crusts. Extra copies could be obtained through the mail, by sending in a ARPC UPC and 50 cents.
The recipes are divided, as the title would indicate, into four seasons: Fall, Winter, Spring and Summer. All of the pies are sweet with the exception of four: Chicken Dinner Pie, Ham 'n Swiss Broccoli Quiche, Almond Crunch Chicken Salad (a chicken salad in a pie) and Layered Overnight Summer Salad (also, predictably, in a pie).
Many of the dessert pie recipes sound good to me: Caramel Sauced Apple Pecan Pie, Kahlua Cream Coffee Pie, Almond Macaroon Cherry Pie, Peanut Cream Pie Supreme, a Buster Summer Pie (ice cream) and the Sweetheart Lemon Cream Torte. I used to have this booklet when it first came out and I'm sure I must have tried one or two of the recipes, but which ones, I can't remember now.
The booklet contains 39 recipes in all, illustrated with color photographs. The last two pages are comprised of instructions and line drawings of Decorative Fluting Techniques and Lattice Variations.
And here's something interesting (to me, at least): Last year, at the request of a lady out in cyberspace, I searched and searched to no avail for a Knox recipe booklet that contained a recipe for Grasshopper Pie that used Knox unflavored gelatin as an ingredient. I never found a Knox booklet containing that particular recipe. But in looking through this booklet, the Grasshopper Pie recipe jumps right out at me--it calls for unflavored gelatin (although it's generic and not Knox).GRASSHOPPER PIELook for a surprising chocolate layer underneath the delicately flavored mint filling.
15-oz pkg. PILLSBURY All Ready Pie Crusts
1 teaspoon flour
1 envelope unflavored gelatin
1/3 cup milk
4 egg yolks
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup green creme de menthe
1/4 cup creme de cacao
2 to 3 drops green food color, if desired
1 cup whipping cream, whipped
2 oz. (2 squares) semi-sweet chocolate, finely chopped
Chocolate wedges, if desired*
Whipping cream, whipped, sweetened, if desired.
Heat oven to 450 degrees F. Prepare pie crust according to package directions for unfilled one-crust pie using 9-inch pie pan. (Refrigerate remaining crust for later use.) Bake at 450 degrees F. for 9 to 11 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool.
In small saucepan, soften gelatin in milk for 5 minutes. Cook over medium heat for 1 minute, stirring constantly. In small bowl, bet egg yolks until thick and lemon colored, about 5 minutes.
Gradually add sugar, creme de menthe, creme de cacao and food color. Stir in the gelatin mixture; mix well. Reserve 3/4 cup filling mixture. Refrigerate remaining filling until mixture begins to thicken, about 15 minutes.
In small saucepan over low heat, combine reserved 3/4 cup filling and chocolate, stirring constantly until melted and smooth. Refrigerate until slightly thickened, about 20 minutes. Spoon into cooled pie crust; spread evenly.
Fold whipped cream into filling. Spoon over chocolate layer; spread evenly. Refrigerate at least 1 hour before serving. Garnish with chocolate wedges and whipped cream before serving. Store in regrigerator.
Tip: *To make chocolate wedges, melt 4 oz. semi-sweet or sweet cooking chocolate. Pour onto waxed paper-covered cookie sheet. Spread evenly to form a circle, about 1/8 to 1/4-inch thick. Refrigerate until slightly hardened, about 10 minutes. Cut circle into 8 wedges. Lift gently from waxed paper with spatula and transer to pie.