How to Make and Style Pie Crust By Hand

Baking pie around the holidays feels romantic and cozy. But how do we ensure that the execution lives up to the fantasy?

We’re going to show you how you can achieve great taste with fall’s favorite tart fruit: cranberries. This content was created in partnership with Food52.

The key to any great pie always starts at the foundation: A flaky, golden, buttery crust that makes any filling look good and taste even better. Making your pie crust by hand is easy, fun, and informative — you’ll learn to feel your way to the perfect texture.

The best part about DIY pie crust? It can all be done in one bowl, without any special equipment. So don’t waste another minute – check out the video to learn how to best tackle the crust, and then start filling your home with the scent of freshly-baked pie with our cranberry apple pie recipe below.



Flaky, golden pie crust

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Cranberry Apple Pie

Servings: 8



For the gingersnap cookie pie dough:

2 ounces gingersnap cookies (about 10 small cookies), or enough to yield 1/2 cup of fine crumbs

1 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1 teaspoon brown sugar

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into small pieces and chilled

4 to 5 tablespoons ice water

For the filling:

One 12-ounce bag fresh or frozen cranberries (about 3 cups)

3/4 cup turbinado sugar (or more to taste)

1/2 cup freshly squeezed orange juice, plus the rind from 1 large orange (rind removed in long strips using a sharp vegetable peeler)

1 cinnamon stick

1/2 cup thinly sliced ginger, scrubbed but left unpeeled

2 firm, ripe apples (about 1 1/2 pounds total), stems removed, cored and thinly sliced about 1/4-inch thick (no need to peel)

1 large egg white, lightly beaten


To make the gingersnap cookie pie crust: In a food processor, blitz your gingersnap cookies using the pulse function until they’re finely and uniformly ground. Remove, set aside, and wipe clean the bowl of your food processor. (Cookie crumbs can be prepped several days in advance; store in an air-tight container.)

Next, pulse flour, salt, and brown sugar to combine about 3 times. Scatter butter pieces over the flour mixture, then pulse until the butter is about the size of peas, about 8 to 10 short pulses. Sprinkle 2 tablespoons of water over mixture and pulse a few times, then repeat with 1 tablespoon of water at a time, or just until small curds start to form and the dough holds together when pinched with your fingers. (Alternatively, you can do this by hand.) Form dough into a 4-inch disk, wrap in plastic, and refrigerate until firm, about 1 hour. (Dough can be refrigerated up to 3 days in advance; allow to soften on the counter before rolling it out.)

Remove the dough from the refrigerator. Spread gingersnap crumbs on a clean work surface (I like using a sheet of parchment paper). Roll out dough on top of crumbs, coating both sides, into an 11-inch round about 1/8-inch thick. Smooth out the crumbs from time to time to distribute evenly. Gently fit dough into a 9-inch pie plate and crimp the edges as desired. Freeze shell at least 30 minutes before baking, or chill it thoroughly in the refrigerator.

Bonus: Really impress your guests with decorative pie crust designs. Learn how below:

Preheat oven to 400° F. Line shell with parchment or foil, and fill with pie weights or dried beans. Bake until golden brown, about 25 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack. Remove pie weights and parchment. Let cool completely.

To make filling and assemble pie: Set aside 1/2 cup of cranberries. Bring remaining cranberries, turbinado sugar, and orange juice to a simmer in a saucepan over medium-high heat, stirring frequently to dissolve sugar. Cook, stirring, just until cranberries begin to pop and release their juice, about 3 minutes. This is the time to taste for sweetness. Add more sugar if you prefer a less tart filling. Drain cranberries in a sieve set over a bowl to catch the juice; you should have about 1 cup. Place cranberries in a small bowl, and stir in your reserved 1/2 cup of cranberries. Set aside.

Return strained cranberry juice to a saucepan and add ginger, cinnamon stick, and orange rind. Simmer liquid over medium-low heat until thickened and reduced by half, about 15 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool. Using a fine-mesh strainer, pour syrup over the reserved 1/2 cup whole cranberries. Discard solids, cinnamon stick, ginger, and orange rind.

Heat oven to 350° F. Brush the par-baked pie crust with the egg white to prevent sogginess. Evenly layer the crust with thinly sliced apples, starting around the outer edge and working your way to the middle; once done, you should have 3 to 4 layers of apples. Top with your cranberry mixture, spreading it to the edges and making sure it’s evenly distributed. Bake until syrup has thickened, berries begin to brown, and apples are tender (check with tip of a knife), about 45 to 50 minutes. If pastry edges brown too quickly, cover with a band of foil.

Let pie cool on a rack. Serve warm or at room temperature with freshly whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.

Photos: James Ransom

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