Homestead, Recipes

Pye Coffyns: The History of Pie Crusts

Pye Coffyns
Apple & Pumpkin Pies

Pie crusts originated as a way for Greeks to preserve meat.  The original pie crusts were not eaten and were called “coffins” as this term described the case or container the meat was held in.  The pie crust was a flour and water paste that hardened around the meat and gelatinous material.  Imagine a really big hot pocket.

The Romans, being more wealthy, used more extravagant meats, such as seafood and also began to “sweeten” pies by adding sweetenings to the meat pies.  The Romans are credited with the first documented sweet pie which was a “rye-crusted goat cheese and honey pie.”

Colonists in America also used pie crusts to preserve meat as the early Greeks and Romans did.  The crust was not eaten.  Chicken and turkey were sometimes placed in this case with the legs extending outside the case as a way to hold the pie.   Pie, as we know it, was not served at the first Thanksgiving.  It is likely some type of meat pie would’ve been served at that time.  Perhaps sweetened meat pies made by adding dried fruits and spices such as cinnamon, nutmeg, and pepper made it to the table.

The 1700s began to see sweet pies created in the United States.  These were often created with fruits and vegetables that were plentiful in the region that the baker lived.

I love pie this time of year and enjoy trying to make the flakiest rendition I can.  I want it to look (and taste) like it should be on a magazine cover!  I use a straightforward recipe, as most crust recipes are (flour, water, fat) and approach it with the best technique I can.

Disclosure:  Some of the links below are affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase.  This helps to cover some of the expense of hosting and managing this website.

Flaky 9 Inch Double Pie Crust

  • Servings: 10-12
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print


2 cups flour

1 tsp salt

3/4 cup shortening (cold)

5 TBS cold water (add ice cubes or place in fridge)


Special Equipment

Pastry Sheet

Pastry Cutter

Rolling Pin

Plastic Wrap

Pie Pans


Combine flour and salt in medium bowl.  Cut in shortening using a pastry blender (or 2 knives) until all flour is just blended in to form pea-sized chunks (it is essential to mix and work the dough as little as possible).  Sprinkle with one TBS of water, mix it in very lightly.  Add the next TBS, mix lightly, up to 5 TBS until the dough forms a ball.  Separate the dough into two equal parts and form 5-6 inch pancakes with each.  Place plastic wrap on a dampened counter, place the pancake in the center of the plastic wrap and cover with a second piece of plastic wrap.  Roll out the dough to the desired size (typically one inch bigger than the pie plate you are using.  Remove the top piece of plastic wrap, using the plastic wrap on the counter, fold the dough into 1/2 and place in the pie pan upside down (plastic wrap on top, dough touching the pan), unfold the pastry and remove the plastic wrap.  Place filling in the crust.  Moisten the edge of the dough with water (this will seal the top crust to the bottom crust).  Roll out and place the second piece of dough on top of the crust, using the same process with the plastic wrap.  Cut vents into the top crust and bake as directed.

*Adapted from Crisco*            
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Always use ice cold water and cold shortening.  I like to measure out the shortening, flour and salt and place in the refrigerator, along with a glass of water before starting.  I keep it there until I’m done getting everything else prepped.  The colder (but still malleable) the shortening and water, the better for maintaining a flaky crust.  This helps to ensure the flour does not become overly glutenous when mixing (think rock solid crust).


Mayer, Laura. “A Brief History of Pie.” Time, Time, 26 Nov. 2008,

“History of Pies.” American Pie Council, American Pie Council,

Additional Resources:

Art of the Pie: A Practical Guide to Homemade Crusts, Fillings, and Life

Pie: 300 Tried-and-True Recipes for Delicious Homemade Pie

Savory Pies: Delicious Recipes for Seasoned Meats, Vegetables and Cheeses Baked in Perfectly Flaky Pie Crusts


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