The different types of pie crust include dough and crumb varieties. There are also double and single crust pie shells as well as many different ways of finishing the crusts. Pie crust flavors and textures are also widely varied.
A basic crust recipe tends to be tender and flaky in texture as well as have a mild flavor. It's ideal for flavorful or light fillings. Some bakers like to add spices such as cinnamon, nutmeg and/or ginger to the basic dough to complement the filling such as for an apple pie. Using shortening and/or cream can create the most tender, delicate crusts, while heavier types are typically made for rich or savory fillings. The amount of sugar used in a basic pie crust recipe is omitted or greatly reduced for meat or other non-dessert fillings.
In basic dough pie crusts, butter may be used for half of the shortening to create a buttery flavor. Pressing one's thumb along the edge of a pie crust is a classic way of finishing the shell, but there are many other possibilities. The finger and thumb together can form triangular shapes on the crust's edge or fork tines may be pressed around it. On a double crust pie, the edges may be moistened with brushed-on egg white, before using the fork tine finishing method as a way of helping to keep the shell's contents from seeping through in the oven.
Double crust pies with a bottom and top are usually baked along with their filling. Single pie shell types, on the other hand, are often baked first and cooled before a cold filling is added. Cream fillings such as chocolate, banana or coconut are popular for a single pie crust that is either made from a dough or a crumb mixture. Phyllo pastry, used in many sheets to create layers, may form the base for either sweet dessert fillings or lighter savory ones.
Dough pie crusts are made from flour plus other dry ingredients that are mixed with shortening, then kneaded and rolled out to place in the pan. Crumb crusts are created quite differently. A popular way to make a crumb pie crust is to blend crushed graham crackers or cookies and mix the crumbs with melted butter. The mixture is then pressed into the bottom of a pie plate, baked and cooled before a filling is added. Another way of making a cookie crust for a dessert filling is to press a batter such as chocolate chip into the pie plate before baking and cooling it.