Skip to main content

A slice of pie can be a slice of heaven

by Joshua Dineen, chef specialist, Lincoln Land Community College

There is just something wonderful and good for the soul about pies. My family really enjoys it when I make pies. I don’t make them often, but when I do, I usually make what should be a ridiculous quantity that somehow disappears far faster than they should.

I have had the pleasure of knowing two amazing pie makers in my life. One of my grandmothers was known for her pies, not just in our large family, but throughout the community. They really were amazing. Banana cream and apple were my personal favorites growing up. I didn’t really know how lucky I was to have pastries of her caliber until much later in life when I tried other representations of these wonderful desserts. Her flakey and delicate crusts had perfectly sweet and flavorful fillings.

I spent years practicing crusts and fillings, finally settling on what became my version of great pies. I liked to say they were as close to my grandmother’s creations as anyone else would ever get.

Somehow, though great fortune, I met another woman, who lived two towns over from my grandmother. She was the mother of a coworker who all became dear friends of our family. Her pie fillings were delicious, but her crust was on another level. I met her after I had been to culinary school and traveled and worked in several restaurants, so I had a different appreciation and understanding of the science behind what it took to accomplish these pastry delights. Also, after my grandmother had passed, it had been a while since I had spoken to someone who shared my passion for making great pies. Her crusts were different. More delicate. Flakier. I had to know how she did it. I politely grilled her on her methods, techniques, timings, hydration – any bit of knowledge I could acquire as to why this crust was so delightful. It was all about using simple ingredients in a different order and pushing them to their scientific limits.

These conversations led me to develop a couple of variations of a new crust that was a hybrid of the efforts of these two talented women. The version I prefer to eat is the most delicate dough to handle. I have tried to show others how to make it, but almost everyone gets frustrated because it is an unforgiving recipe. That is why I had to create several versions, all playing off the base idea.

It’s just a little slice of pie. Sometimes it feels like a slice of heaven. There is something so satisfying about this potentially simply dessert, that when done correctly, can brighten your day and make everything feel better.

Pie Crust

  • 2 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 6 tablespoons cold butter, diced small
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1/4 cup cold water, more or less
  1. Combine the flour, salt, and butter in a bowl.
  2. Working quickly, using your fingers, not the palms of your hand, work the butter into the flour until the butter is in tiny pieces. Temperature is important so don’t let the dough warm at all.
  3. Stir in the vegetable oil.
  4. Add the water. Stir just until the dough barely comes together. This is one of most important parts of pie crust. Once you add the water, every time the dough is touched, the finished crust becomes less delicate and chewier.
  5. Carefully wrap the dough in plastic wrap and place in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.
  6. Using the minimum amount of flour your skill level allows, roll the dough gently out and place into a pie pan. Poke tiny holes in the bottom of the crust with a fork so it doesn’t bubble up when baked.
  7. Place the pie shell into the freezer until it’s time to make pies. Reserve extra dough to make a top if desired.

Peach Pie

  • 7 ripe peaches, peeled and sliced
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 4 tablespoon flour
  • Pinch ground cloves
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Combine everything and pour into pie crust.
  3. Use extra dough to roll a top to the pie if desired.
  4. Bake in oven for approximately 45 minutes, maybe longer depending on oven. Crust should be deep golden brown, and filling should be bubbling.
  5. Remove from oven and let cool completely. Enjoy with some whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.


Lincoln Land Community College offers credit programs in Culinary Arts, Hospitality Management and Baking/Pastry, and non-credit cooking and food classes through LLCC Community Education.

Cooking or food questions? Email