We featured Chef Michael Mech’s great grandmother’s Pecan Crescent Cookies in our 13 Days of Christmas Cookie series and they were a huge hit. Knowing what a great baker she was, we couldn’t pass up the opportunity to share her secrets for making homemade pie crust. —Editor
“Many shy away from crafting a homemade pie, due to the complexity of the crust. This story and recipe is for them. My Great Grandmother Schade, famous for her Pecan Crescent Cookies, was an amazing baker. She truly had the touch. She was the first generation born in this country and lived from the days of horse and buggy to seeing man land on the moon.
Her pies were legendary and, as a child, I was invited into her small kitchen to learn her magic. The butter and shorting always had to be the right temperature and cubed to the correct size with a surgeons skill. Never over mixing, and adding a special ingredient, Heinz Vinegar, always Heinz.
In addition to Heinz Vinegar, Grandma’s pie magic included her passion for John Phillip Sousa’s music as she would always play his marches on her crank Victrola while we made pie crust. She would say, ‘Making a pie crust takes precession, just like a great march, and no one does a march better the Mr. Sousa. Now listen to the music. Roll the dough, turn the dough.’ And on she would go with her loving marching orders.”
This recipe yields one 9-inch two-crust pie or two bottom-crust pies.
- 2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/3 cup granulated sugar
- 1/3 cup cubed butter (1/8-inch diced) and well chilled
- 1/3 cup vegetable shorting (1/4-inch diced) and well chilled
- 5 tablespoons ice water
- 1/8 teaspoon Heinz Vinegar
- 1 Using an egg wash, generously brush the entire exposed crust. Sprinkle with granulated sugar and bake at 400 degrees F for the first 15 minutes then reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees F for 35-45 minutes longer until the crust is golden brown.
- 2 Sift flour and salt together then add sugar. Cut in butter and shortening with the two knifes method or pastry blender. Add water and vinegar, a half a teaspoon at a time, and mix by hand into the flour mixture until the mixture holds together. (Do not over mix!)
- 3 Divide the dough into two portions, wrap in plastic film, and refrigerate for 5-10 minutes. Remove a portion one at a time and roll out on a floured board, either for a bottom crust or a top crust.
- 4 Place the first portion for a double crust pie in the bottom on a 9-inch pie pan, after your filling is placed inside cover with second portion of rolled dough.
- 5 Press and crimp the edges of the pie shell well. Vent with cuts into the top crust.