Today Is A Very Important Day

This pie crust recipe comes from my dear friend Melanie Reardon, and it was developed over three generations of her family — so you know it’s the real deal. The first time I attempted this one at home, I was convinced it was going to be impossible to do: I am not the world's best baker, and almost everyone complains about homemade pie crust and what a pain in the ass it is. Surprisingly, however, it’s not that difficult if you follow the recipe closely and just trust the process. Here are some tips I learned through trial and error:

• DON’T overwork your dough (it’s a pie, not a cake! You'll understand what shaggy dough looks like when you see it — remember, trust the process!).
• DON’T use all of the iced vinegar water. (I speed-read the instructions the first time I made this and just dumped in all of the water, and my pie crust turned into a big sloppy, sad mess.)
DO add a little bit of flour to the dough if it's sticking to your hands while you are shaping the pie disks (but just until it's not sticky anymore!)
DO allow some extra dough to fall over the edges of your pie pan, because it will shrink a bit as it bakes.

When I took my first pie dough out of the oven and it was golden and delicious, I thought to myself, Well, clearly I am a pie master, I am going to look up pie crust decoration ideas! That led me to Martha Stewart’s site, which then proceeded to completely destroy my newfound pie confidence. So, my final nugget of advice is to celebrate the fact that you made an amazing pie crust from scratch, and don’t get overly ambitious with decorative elements until you practice a bit. I have made this pie crust six times now, and decorative skills still escape me — baby steps! The recipe below is just for the crust, but you can bake it and then melt some milk, sugar, semi-sweet chocolate, and a couple of other things together to make chocolate cream pie (link below). Happy Pi Day!

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp kosher salt
1 tbsp granulated sugar
1 stick of butter, very cold, cut into small cubes
1/2 cup vegetable shortening 
1 cup of ice-cold water (with a few ice cubes in it)
4 tbsp cider vinegar
Egg wash (1 egg plus 1 tbsp of milk or cream) 

1. Combine the ice water, vinegar, and a few ice cubes, and put in the freezer for a few minutes while you prep your ingredients.

2. Combine all of the dry ingredients in a large bowl. Whisk gently to blend.

3. Add the cut-up butter and shortening in small amounts to dry ingredients. Cut with two forks until pea-size clumps start to form. Fight the urge to overwork the dough!

4. Remove your water mixture from the freezer, and add just 2 tablespoons at a time to the dough mixture until it starts to come together but is still “shaggy." (Please note that you will not use all of the liquid! Usually just 6 tablespoons or so.)

5. When the dough is ready, shape into two even disks with your hands. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap, and chill it in your fridge for at least 1 hour (can be chilled up to 24 hours).

6. Once dough has chilled, roll out one crust on a lightly floured surface, transfer to pie plate, and poke bottom of crust a few times with a fork.

7. Let the pie crust come over the lip of your pie plate somewhat because it will shrink a bit when it bakes. Use a knife or scissors to cut the excess off. 

8. The second disk can be used for another pie, or you can roll out the top crust on a floured surface, transfer to pie plate, and cut vents in top crust. 

9. Brush the edges of the crust or the top of the pie with egg wash (beaten egg with a little milk or cream).

10. If desired, sprinkle top of crust with sugar and a pinch of kosher salt.

11. Place plate on a cookie sheet to catch overflow in oven.

12. Bake at 375 degrees Fahrenheit for 45 minutes and then 350 degrees Fahrenheit until it is golden on the top (20 to 30 minutes).

13. Here is a quick, chocolatey filler for this pie. Enjoy!

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