shared recipes: never fail pie crust

Family recipes are the some of the most treasured possessions I own. I have a frame with my great aunt Willie Belle’s recipe for butterscotch pie hanging on my wall. Brandon and I made a collection of recipes to give our wedding guests as favors. We love these family relics of years past.


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A blog about grandmothers wouldn’t be worth its salt without a sprinkling of family recipes.

This one is extraordinary, in my opinion.

It’s extraordinary to me that two unrelated women living two hours apart could have the exact same recipe.

(Or it isn’t extraordinary. Because they may have simply shared the recipe with one another at some point in their history of being the mothers of their married children. But let’s continue on the assumption of the incredible coincidence of this shared recipe, ok?)

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never trust a clean recipe page.

Coincidences aside- the recipe itself is pretty delicious. It’s for a flaky pie crust that literally works every single time. I played around with the food processor style pie crusts, the one with the vodka in it, and the one where you work really fast and pray the butter stays cold and your crust isn’t a chewy mess. I’ve never had luck in the pie crust department. And I curse baking every time I try.

A few years ago my Aunt Sharlene gave me a collection of family recipes for a Christmas gift. The recipe for “Mudder’s Never Fail Pie Crust” was in the book. The recipe included both the southern staple of vegetable shortening, but also vinegar, and an egg. An EGG?

I really wanted to be a fan of the classic “all butter” pie crusts. But the “never fail” is good. Just plain good. And doesn’t taste horrible when you slaved away but didn’t hold your tongue right and try to serve your pie to a group of friends. Friends who will be polite and smile and pretend that the delicious filling makes up for the tough cow hide encapsulating the pie. This crust hasn’t failed me yet. Take that, evil all butter crust!

Somehow in the process of discovering this crust, I found out that the same recipe was beloved by not only my Mudder (Geraldine) but also by my Grammy (Virginia)! I choose to view the recipe as a bridge between two women who led geographically different lives but still ended up with the same recipe. Most likely one that was found in a national ladies magazine or on the back of the Crisco can. But I choose to dream about the lone recipe sent out into the world that found a home in the legacy recipe boxes of two women who would be unrelated until their children fell in love.

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shortening. yes, it’s gross. yes, it’s going to kill us. no, i don’t eat it every day.

Or. You can just call it a pie crust.

Here’s the recipe.

Never Fail Pie Crust:

3 Cups All Purpose Flour

1 1/4 Cups Shortening (I use butter flavored for my biscuits so that’s what I keep on hand,  but plain works just fine.) 

1 Teaspoon Salt

1 Egg, well beaten

5 Tablespoons Water

1 Tablespoon White Vinegar

Method: Cut shortening into flour and salt using a pastry blender or forks.  In a separate bowl, combine the egg, water, and vinegar. Pour liquids into the flour all at once. Blend until all is moistened. Roll into desired shape and bake as specified in your recipe.

I’ve made three crusts out of this recipe and also made two. It really depends on how thick you like your crust and if you’re going to cut shapes etc. The crust keeps for 2 weeks in the refrigerator and freezes well. 

Hope y’all like it!

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