THE essentials to good pie-crust are good sifted flour, good butter, and sweet lard. Use very cold water for wetting, and roll the crust from you. A quick oven is necessary for almost all kinds of pies. Nearly all pies should be eaten fresh. Mince is about the only exception.
If a little beaten egg is rubbed over the bottom crust of a pie, it will prevent juice from soaking through it.
The yolks of eggs bind the crust much better than the whites. Apply it to the edges with a brush.
In all juicy pies, or when there is a tendency for the juice to run out, take some stiff white writing paper, make a roll about as large round as a penny and stand upright in a hole cut in the upper crust. Let it rest on the lower crust. Push the fruit aside to make room for it. Bake with this funnel in and the refactory juice will collect in it instead of on the oven bottom. It is not necessary to paste the paper together. It will keep its place without any trouble, and may be removed when the pie is done. Another way to prevent the juice from running out of fruit pies is to put the sugar on the bottom crust under the fruit instead of over it.
In making a large batch of pies, it is just as well to divide the paste and make the bottom crust less rich than the top crust.
Mince meat can be made in the fall, and packed away in jars, for the entire winter. Then it is but little trouble to make crust for a pie, or the pies themselves may be made in large numbers and kept in a cool place and heated when wanted.
Apples may be used for mince pies without peeling. Chopped fine, the omission will be unnoticed. A lady of well-known culinary ability says chopped potatoes may be used instead of apples. Soak over night in vinegar; no one will know the difference.
Wild grapes may be put up for winter use in sorghum or molasses. Fill a jar with grapes and pour the molasses over until covered with it. Tie a cloth over, and in winter it will be found of a very rich color and flavor, and is delicious for pies.
Canned pie-plant is one of the most useful adjuncts to a winter supply of fruits. Nothing tastes better than a pie made of it in midwinter. It may be used very largely for pies as the principal filling, by using enough of other fruit to flavor. The pie-plant readily takes to itself any flavor. Thus with a scarcity of currants, gooseberries, apples, etc., the bulk of the pie may be made of the rhubarb with but little of the other fruit.
Many of the best cooks of the present day make their pies without sugar. When baked remove the upper crust and sweeten. It is a well-known fact that it takes less sugar than if it is cooked in the pie.
It is unnecessary to detail each fruit in pie-making. Having made one or two that are similar, there is judgment enough acquired to make others.
1 1/2 cups flour before sifting.
1/2 cup butter, or a trifle less of lard.
3 tablespoons water; pinch of salt. This is for upper and under crusts of a large, round tin or yellow pie-plate. Put the salt in the flour and sift it. Take a knife and use in mixing the shortening with the flour.
Butter will cut up nicer than lard, and will make the crust more flaky. When it is well cut together, put in the water very gradually, chopping the mixture, and trying to avoid wet streaks. Do not knead it with the hands. Sprinkle some flour on the molding-board; flour the rolling-pin, take a little more than half of the crust and gather it into a little round pile, and roll it out from you. If it is not the proper shape, turn it at right angles and roll from you again. When it is of the required size, cover the sides and bottom of the pie-dish; finish the upper crust the same way, and make 3 or 4 gashes in it for the escape of steam. After the pie material is put in, and the upper crust put on, pinch the edges of the two crusts neatly together.