Hundred-year-old Advice for Making a Flaky Pie Crust

cutting shortenind into flourWhen I was young, I learned how to “cut” (or “chop”) shortening into the flour when making a pie crust, and I still use the old-fashioned technique -so enjoyed reading advice in a hundred-year-old cookbook about how to make crisp and flaky pie crusts. Here are a few excerpts:

Contrary to the general opinion, pastry is not hard to make. In fact, once the fundamental principles are understood, pastry is much easier and more quickly made than cake. When making pastry, keep these rules in mind. Fat makes a pie crust crisp, therefore, to economize on shortening will produce poor pastry.

The amount of air which is incorporated in the dough makes the crust flaky, so the dough requires careful handling. Water makes pastry tough and only enough should be used to hold the dough together.

Pastry flour is recommended because if absorbs less moisture; however, the regular family flour will give good results.

If all the ingredients are cold, the dough will be much easier to handle. Chopping the fat into the flour is recommended. Do not chop the fat into the flour too thoroughly; mix until the consistency of coarse meal.

Add only enough water to hold the mixture together. If too much water is used it will be necessary to use more flour when the dough is rolled out, and if that is the case, the pastry will be tough from handling, and the fat and flour will not be in the right proportion.

Handle the dough as quickly and lightly as possible.

Mrs. DeGraf’s Cook Book (1922)

8 thoughts on “Hundred-year-old Advice for Making a Flaky Pie Crust

  1. I really enjoyed this 100-year-old look at making pastry, Sheryl. Interesting that nothing has changed about making it. I did find the use of the words “family flour” an interestingly dated expression, and am sure I have never heard that term in the 21st C. Wonderful post, as usual.

  2. Interesting advice. Sadly, the whole process didn’t come together for me and when my pie crust proficient Mother switched to Pillsbury pie crusts, so did I! I admire anyone who can mix, roll, and safely transfer a pie crust into a pie plate!

  3. I was among the last of a generation who had home economics in school and one thing I learned in cooking class was how to make a pie crust. I turned into the person who always made them at home and I still do. Quite honestly I can’t stand the premade grocery store crusts, they do taste different to me. I do like a mix of about 3/4 part shortening (no water content=flaky but no flavor) to 1/4 part butter (water content to be considered but adds flavor). Some folks will use vodka as part of the liquid for flakier crust. I have always heard Lard makes the best crusts but have never tried it.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s