A Little Therapy for Mom

While it always feels good to return home after a vacation, it also takes a few days to get back into the swing of things. We’ve got laundry to catch up on, groceries to shop for, friends and family to catch up with, sleep schedules to readjust, cats to clean up after (apparently they were having quite the party without us) and loads of work and bills to catch up on. Fortunately we have some good memories to get us through – that and pie crust.

Pie crusts, for me, are therapy. I’m not sure what it is about rolling out a fresh crust, but it’s something I’ve enjoyed since we were first married. My first crust was a butter and shortening crust, but once I started making my Grandma’s blackberry cobbler, I began working with the double shortening crust. Pie crusts challenge me every time, give a true sense of accomplishment and most importantly, make for amazing desserts. They are also something that I like to tackle alone. Just me and the pie crust.

I start by sifting together the flour, salt and sugar and slicing in chunks of vegetable shortening.

Next I blend the shortening into the dry mix, creating a damp, coarse meal. I typically use a pastry blender, but when I started making crusts I used two knives in a scissor fashion to the same effect.

Once both large and small chunks form, it’s time to start adding the ice water. Most recipes will call for 6-8 tablespoons of water. I usually fold in about 10 tablespoons, by dropping in 1 to 2 spoons at a time.

After adding each tablespoon of water, I use two forks to pull the dry meal up from the bottom and gently push it back down again until a damp dough starts to form.

After about 8 to 10 tablespoons it’s time to dig in and get the hands dirty. I gently begin forming the meal into a soft dough.

It isn’t springy like a bread dough, but more dense like a cookie dough.

After the dough forms, I split the ball into two sections – one slightly larger for the bottom crust – and flatten them to about 1/4 inch thickness, wrap them in plastic wrap and refrigerate them for at least 30 minutes.

Once chilled, it’s time to roll the dough. I start with the larger of the two disks and roll it out on a floured surface.

I then carefully roll it onto the rolling-pin and lay it over the baking dish. This crust works for both an 8-inch round pie pan or a 9-inch-by-13-inch baking dish.

After tucking the crust into the dish, I add the pie or cobbler filling;  

and then I repeat the rolling process with the second disk. Once the top crust is laid out on the baking dish, I pinch together the bottom and top crusts and use a pie cutter to trim the edges – a knife would work just fine as well.

And there you have it – a double shortening pie crust. I’m not sure what it is about pie crusts, but I could make them all day long (not to mention eat the end results all day long). It’s a nice way to make myself feel at home – even when I haven’t been on vacation.

Print this recipe: Shortening Double Crust

Print this recipe: Grandma’s Blackberry Cobbler

42 thoughts on “A Little Therapy for Mom

  1. Kelly says:

    Ha! Love it. There’s something so satisfying and relaxing about working with your hands…. hope the return home is treating you well and that you are continuing to enjoy the memories. Your blackberry cobbler looks delicious!


  2. Charles says:

    Looks wonderful – Sometimes I really yearn for dishes like this – homey, family style dishes, “just like mom makes”, you know? My wife made me a cobbler recently using some left over blackberry jam – was super good. Hope you’re having a good day 🙂


    • Kristy says:

      Yep…some of my favorite dishes are the homey, family classics. I’m just happy that I learned how to make this from my Grandma and can pass it along to my kids. 🙂 Ooooh – blackberry jam! That sounds so good!


  3. Firefly says:

    You know this is one of my favorites and you reminded me that I didn’t make this in ages LOL 🙂 beautiful and yummy! Wish I had some!
    I always need a vacation right after my vacation LOL


    • Kristy says:

      Funny how that works isn’t it. This time we came back on a Friday, so it was nice to have a weekend to readjust. Blackberry cobbler is easily one of my favorites too!


  4. smartfoodandfit says:

    I use to bake pies all the time, before kids. Now my hubby and kids want me to bake more pies but sweets are my down fall and I’m really trying to be good here but now that I’ve read your post I may break down and bake some this weekend! Washing dishes is my therapy, I think it’s the running water and warm soapy hands that has a calm and soathing effect on me, maybe I should try making some pie crust, I bet the kneading will help get out my frustrations with the kids! lol.
    I have to say you are an awesome mom and looks like your kids are loving every minute in the kitchen!


    • ChefMom says:

      Thanks Lisa! The thing that helps me – I usually make this dish when I’m going to my parents’ or they are coming over. That way there are more people on hand to eat it and less for me to keep eating, and eating, and eating. LOL! The kneading and rolling are definitely therapeutic too. 😉 And I’m with you on the washing dishes – I usually zone out and stare out the window too. Just something about the water. 🙂


  5. Caroline says:

    Baking in general is therapy for me. There’s just something soothing about it. Getting to eat the final product isn’t too bad either. 😉 I recently bought some new supplies for pie making, so thanks for reminding me I need to make one. Yours looks delicious!


  6. spicegirlfla says:

    Kristy, I love all your photos as I truly could visualize thru the entire process and its making me want to go home right now and make a pie crust!! I’m so impressed you make it by hand! My mother did her crust by hand, I cheat with the food processor…


    • ChefMom says:

      Thanks so much Linda! You brought a smile to my face. 🙂 You know I’ve never made one in the food processor, but the process intrigues me. I’ve always been afraid I’d screw it up though. I’m so used to this method. LOL.


    • ChefMom says:

      The one thing I will say when attempting your first pie crust – be patient and have lots of flour and shortening on hand. The first several crusts I made I had to start over when the rolling process went wrong. They are worth it though. 🙂


  7. sallybr says:

    You are amazing! You know, if I am stressed and in need of therapy I decided to make a pie crust, I would end up locked in a mental institution for a long, long time…. a pie crust could definitely send things over the edge! 😉

    I need one week of Zen before making a pie crust from scratch


    • ChefMom says:

      LOL! I feel the same way about you and bread – you are amazing! And I have no doubt you could whip up a great pie crust. 😉 I’m making your salmon tacos tomorrow night! Can’t wait!


  8. Kay aka Babygirl says:

    Everyone has something that they cook that relaxes them in my opinion. For me it’s making Fettuccine Alfredo, baked chicken (believe it or not lol), or baking brownies. There’s nothing like it, so I completely understand. And I haven’t heard of shortening crust since my grandmother was alive, so you brought back wonderful memories. And don’t worry so much about everything you have to do. I know you will tackle it with grace, style, and with a little dirt under the finger nails 😉


  9. Casey says:

    I’m the same way! I’m definitely not a person who likes to buy the pre-made pie crusts, only when I’m in a big crunch. But there is just this sense of pride and accomplishment you get out of making a great, flaky, homemade crust. Yours looks deee-lish!


  10. A_Boleyn says:

    Blackberries are delicious and I’m sure made a very tasty cobbler.

    I usually find pastry/dessert making to be therapeutic but not the majority of other cooking I do. Especially not when I’m juggling 3 or 4 dishes at the same time. That’s why I’d never cook professionally. 🙂

    I’m curious why this is called a cobbler by the way.


    • ChefMom says:

      It’s actually more of a pie, as traditionally a cobbler doesn’t have a bottom crust, but it’s my grandma’s recipe and we’ve always called it a blackberry cobbler. 🙂 And I’m with you – I could never cook professionally…way too much pressure. I wouldn’t last a day. LOL.


      • A_Boleyn says:

        You can call a family recipe anything you want … a pie or a cobbler or a slump or a grunt. All names of fruit filling concoctions that I’ve run across. 🙂

        Speaking of names, I’m curious about the term “shortening crusts” as well. My mother never made pies when I was growing up. Pies just weren’t part of our cultural background so my first pie, as a teenager, came from the recipe on a box of Crisco vegetable shortening, which I could never get to work with the instructions given. I would knead and knead those 5 or 6 tbsps until I got something that was tough and baked hard as a rock.

        Finally, in desperation I asked a girlfriend who gave me what she said was a no-fail crust recipe. And it worked for me. Here it is in case any of the people who have problems making a pie crust want to give it a try.

        Pie Crust (enough for top and bottom or 2 bottoms)

        2 cups all purpose flour
        1/2 tsp salt
        1/2 tsp baking powder
        1/2 cup shortening or butter
        1/4 cup sour cream
        1 egg
        water as needed

        Sift dry ingredients together in a large bowl. Cut in the shortening with a pastry blender.

        In a 2 cup glass measuring cup beat together the egg and sour cream and add enough cold water to make a total of 3/4 cup liquid. Stir the liquid into the dough using a fork. If a hand full of dough holds together when squeezed, the dough is wet enough, otherwise, fork in an additional tablespoon of water and try again. Repeat.

        Wrap in saran wrap and refrigerate until needed or roll to 1/4″ thickness.

        For an empty shell, bake 12-15 min in a 400 F oven. For a filled shell, bake 15 min at 400 F, then reduce temperature to 350 F and bake an additional 25-30 min until the contents are set. Or use the baking instructions of the recipe you’re using.


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