Filed Under:

Easy As Pie: Master The Art Of The Perfect Crust

Play associated audio

Those of us slaving over pecan and pumpkin pies ahead of Thanksgiving already know that pie-making season is decidedly in full swing. And on a segment for Morning Edition airing Thursday, host David Greene and I discuss the best advice for pie-making newbies. Really, it comes down to this:

Baking is not like cooking a stew or soup. Bakers can't take as many liberties — adding a pinch of this or that.

Baking requires more precision. And perhaps it's a pursuit better suited for the rule-followers of the world, who are happy to simply follow the recipe. (Hint: Save all your creative instincts for the filling.)

Last year, I visited the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, N.Y., for a hands-on lesson in perfect pie crusts from George Higgins, a professor of baking and pastry arts. (An encore presentation of that story airs on Morning Edition Thursday.) Higgins says great crust boils down to 3:2:1 — that's three parts flour, two parts fat and one part liquid. If you follow Higgins' 3-2-1 recipe (we outline it in five slides above) you'll be golden. And so will your pie.

So good luck — but more importantly, have fun.

As my mom, Barbara Aubrey, reminds us in my story: "Nothing says 'home sweet home' more than a homemade pie." Truly, it's a labor of love.

But if you're still hankering to get experimental with your pies, try swapping out the flour in your crust. My daughter Lilly and I made a pumpkin pie last Sunday using a recipe for a walnut crust, replacing the flour with ground walnuts. I was inspired by the spate of studies suggesting benefits of the Mediterranean diet, rich in olive oils and nuts.

There are lots of recipes out there. I found mine in a print issue of Cooking Light. It called for 2 1/2 cups of walnuts, 2 tablespoons of butter, 1 teaspoon of baking soda and 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Beware: This crust is more fragile than a traditional crust. It's nutty and rich as a bottom crust, so we loved the taste. But the aesthetics leave something to be desired. The top layer becomes more of a crumble.

Copyright 2013 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

NPR

Not My Job: We Quiz Lena Headey On Games Worse Than 'Game Of Thrones'

Game of Thrones may have killed off many major characters, but the manipulative, scheming Queen Cersei is still standing. We've invited Headey to play a game called "You win and you die."
NPR

After Introducing Changes, Keurig Sales Continue To Fall

Despite America's high coffee consumption, Keurig reported disappointing sales this week. Even during its popular holiday selling period, the numbers haven't perked up in recent years.
NPR

Do Political TV Ads Still Work?

TV ads are a tried-and-true way for politicians to get their message out. But in this chaotic presidential primary, are they still effective?
NPR

Twitter Says It Has Shut Down 125,000 Terrorism-Related Accounts

The announcement comes just weeks after a woman sued Twitter, saying the platform knowingly let ISIS use the network "to spread propaganda, raise money and attract recruits."

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.