The rise of pie crusts already in a pan, or sticks of crust that only need to be rolled out is witness to the difficulty of mastering the creation of pie crust.
Flour, salt, water, fat. Variations on that include vinegar, sugar and cream, but the real problem for me wasn't (and isn't for most, I venture to claim) the recipe, the problem was the method. Take two knives and cut in the fat? How in the world do you do that? Almost as bad are pastry cutters. Fat clogs them and sticks to them and clumps on top of the blades.
And you have to keep this ice cold at the same time? What kind of magic does one use, anyway??
I finally found the secret when I complained to Mom. She looked surprised, then said, "Well, I always just use my fingers."
Fingers? Warm, round fingers? That went against everything I'd ever read about cutting fat into flour, but I tried it and it works.
It's a lot cheaper to make your own pie crusts than buy them ready made, and once you get the method figured out, they're a breeze to make. Mix the flour and salt together, "cut in" the fat using your fingers until the mixture is the consistency of cornmeal, dump in the water a little at a time until you have a dough that barely sticks together.
Whether you make your own pie crusts or not, you might want to check out these cool tips on making pies. There were a couple of surprises in there for me; maybe for you, too.
Image courtesy of morguefile.com