My grandmother was our family’s pie-making expert. It wasn’t that the crust was cut with decorative stencils or filled with complex ingredients. Grandma Tiny simply had been making pies for so long that she measured the crust ingredients with her hands and could feel when the dough was just right.
Before she died at 104, I asked my grandmother about her pie crust “recipe.” She said she originally made pies with butter crusts. Then during World War II, she switched to vegetable shortening, which wasn’t rationed as severely as butter. By the time my sister and I became some of her best pie eaters, Grandma Tiny was in her eighties. She was using shortening in her crusts for a new reason: it was easiest to work with her arthritic fingers. With that history in mind, I developed a blend of butter and coconut oil to create my version of just-right dough.
This crust recipe intentionally fits a standard pie plate with leftover trimmings to turn into my favorite childhood snack. The crust can be filled with many flavors, and next week, I’ll share my favorite pumpkin pie variation. It uses the spice mix and roasted pumpkin puree recipes I shared earlier this month, along with eggs, butter, honey, molasses, heavy cream and a little rum.
Cinnamon-and-Sugar Pie Crust
Makes 1 single crust
1-1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon flaky kosher salt
1/4 cup unsalted butter, chilled and diced
1/4 cup coconut oil, chilled
3-4 tablespoons ice-cold water
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1-2 tablespoons melted butter
In a mixing bowl, combine the flour and salt. Work in the butter and coconut oil with your fingertips until the dough becomes mealy. Drizzle in a tablespoon of water at a time, working it in briefly with your fingers, until the dough starts to cling together. On a piece of parchment paper, press the dough into a disk, wrap it up, and chill for at least 1 hour.
When ready to make a pie, remove the disk from the refrigerator and roll it out on a lightly floured surface until the diameter is at least 2 inches larger than the top of a standard 9-inch pie plate. In a small jar with a shaker lid or bowl, combine the cinnamon and sugar and then sprinkle some of it over the dough.
Fit the dough into the pie plate, trimming away any that hangs more than an inch over the edge and setting the extra dough aside. Flute the dough along the plate’s lip, pinching it between your thumb and forefinger to form a wavy edge. Set aside for your pie.
Gather the leftover dough pieces into a ball and gently reroll it to pie crust thinness. Cut the dough into pie slice-sized pieces, brush each with melted butter, and sprinkle with the remaining cinnamon-and-sugar mixture. Place the pieces on a baking sheet. Bake at 375°F for 10 minutes, until lightly browned and crisp. Eat immediately.
Stay Connected with the Daily Roundup.
Sign up for our newsletter and get the best of the Beacon delivered every day to your inbox.