Tender, flaky, rich a great crust makes a great pie. You know one when you see one but how to recreate such a masterpiece at home?
Some of our pie masters revealed a pet ingredient or technique, but others confessed to the simplest formulas: "Our pie dough is Crisco, flour, and salt," says Lysa Sangermano, co-owner of Mom's Pies. "Not real complicated, but when you have a woman who has made pies for 20 years, it becomes second nature." And therein lies the truth: A good crust is part art, part science.
So what's a beginning pie baker to do? After putting Sunset's recipe testers through a battery of formulas and refinements, we settled on two fine crusts you can rely on. One combines butter and shortening for flavor and texture balance. The other relies on lard for exceptional flakiness. Even inexperienced bakers had good luck with both.