Sweets and Savories from Philadelphia's Favorite Pie Boutique


By Holly Ricciardi

With Miriam Harris

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Magpie Artisan Pie Boutique is a jewel in Philadelphia’s food-town crown, and you can recreate it at home!

Since 2012, the pocket-size shop on South Street in Philadelphia has been turning out flaky crusts and luscious fillings. Now this book serves up Magpie’s seasonal menu for home bakers everywhere: the fruity, creamy, and nutty pies; hand pies, pot pies, and quiches; and even pie shakes and pie “fries,” all fine-tuned to exacting standards and with lots of step-by-step instruction for that all-important crust.

Baker-owner Holly Ricciardi’s upbringing deep in the Central Pennsylvania countryside provided the basis for Magpie’s perfect synthesis of classic favorites and new twists-alongside down-home favorites like Sweet Crumb Pie and Shoofly Pie you’ll find Holly’s bourbon-infused update of her great-grandmother’s special butterscotch pie as well as the ingenious (and instant-sellout) Cookie Dough Hand Pies. More than 90 recipes also include sweets like:
  • Cranberry Curd Mini Meringue Pies
  • Blueberry Rhuby Rose Pie
  • Chocolate Blackout Pie
And savories like:
  • Summer Squash Pie
  • Ham-Leek-Dijon Potpies
  • Quiche Lorraine

From crusts to crumbles and sumptuous savories to sweet confections, there’s a Magpie pie for every occasion.




flaky piecrust


Don’t Fear the Piecrust

Ingredient Essentials

Pie Dough Tools

Method Fundamentals

Magpie Dough for Flaky Piecrust

Single-Crust Pie Shell

Double-Crust Pie Shell

Lattice-Top Pie Shell

Shells for Mini Pies

Pie “Fries”

Potpie Shells

Quiche Shell

Dough Rounds for Hand Pies



It produces a piecrust that is delectably flaky, tender to the bite, and sturdy as all get-out. The dough keeps wonderfully, whether it languishes for several days in the fridge, goes straight in the freezer in its initial disk form, or gets frozen after it’s been chilled and rolled out into a sheet (or even fitted into a pan). What’s more, it’s phenomenally versatile. We use it for all manner of sweet pie—from airy mousse to lush fruit; from single, double, and latticed to mini pies and hand pies. And we use the very same dough for each and every one of our savory pies, potpies, and quiches.

The magic of the recipe is in the perfect equilibrium of its six humble ingredients: all-purpose white flour with the right level of protein; sufficient fat, in the form of a spot-on ratio of unsalted butter to vegetable shortening (both frozen); small, flavor-enhancing measures of granulated sugar and salt; and just barely enough ice-cold water to persuade the mixture to cohere.

Then there’s our mixing method, which is a hybrid approach I’ve developed in the course of turning out thousands upon thousands of handmade pies. In my experience, this method is unbeatable. You start out using a food processor to swirl together the flour, salt, and sugar, then quickly cut in first the butter and then the shortening. Then you switch to hand mixing: Dump the flour-and-fat mixture into a big bowl, and use a curved bowl scraper to fold in the water, just until clumps begin to form. All told, the process takes maybe 5 minutes. You have something that barely looks like dough when you first pat it together and wrap it up. Into the fridge it goes, and the next day it emerges, smooth and lovely and ready to be rolled, panned, and baked to flaky perfection.


              Despite everything you may have heard and any pie-baking angst you may have experienced in the past, great piecrust really and truly is not difficult to make. And it doesn’t require any fancy ingredients.

                  What making great piecrust does require, first and foremost, is care, as in gathering a few basic components, measuring them accurately, and combining them properly. There’s some basic handiwork involved—rolling and panning your bottom crust takes a light touch and a little practice, and there’s some know-how you’ll need to properly handle a crust that has to be prebaked. But if you start out with a good, clear set of instructions, an uncluttered workspace, an open, pie-loving heart, and a reasonable set of aesthetic expectations, plus a few Magpie trade secrets, you’ll get the hang of it.

                  Just as important as all the hands-on techniques is the hands-off time. Dough must have the alone time it needs. Always, always, always chill your dough overnight—as in a full 8 hours or more—before you roll it out!

                  Making great piecrust does take time, but nearly all of that time is for the dough to rest or bake. Actual hands-on, active time adds up to a grand total of maybe 60 minutes at most, and much less than that once you learn a few basic moves.


Here’s what you’ll need:

              All-purpose white flour with 10% to 11% protein content, which means Pillsbury or Gold Medal (10.5% protein) are good choices. Bleached or unbleached is fine.

              Granulated sugar and fine salt—any brand at all.

              Unsalted butter with 23% to 24% fat content. Regional brands are often a good way to go; I’ve always used Land O’Lakes, which I grew up with because some of their farms are in my hometown of Carlisle, Pennsylvania. Decades later, they still stock the dairy cases of supermarkets in the Philly area.

              Vegetable shortening. Yes: a bit of this is essential to a flaky-yet-sturdy crust because it has a higher melting point than butter, so it holds up as the crust bakes and lends structure that produces nice strong flakes. (If you have a good source of very high-quality leaf lard, you could experiment with substituting that for the shortening, but we use Crisco at the shop.) Because the shortening needs to be in small cubes for the pie dough, my advice is to buy in sticks rather than by the tub—much easier to freeze and dice.


Digital kitchen scale: A must-have for making good pie dough. These days, a very good digital scale can be had for under $20—worth every penny.

Bench scraper: Ideal for cubing butter and shortening; also very useful for coaxing the edge of thinly rolled (and highly stretch-prone) dough off the work surface.

Food processor: Hands-down, so to speak, the best and speediest tool for the all-important job of cutting together flour and fat.

Curved plastic bowl scraper: For mixing the water into the dough, nothing beats this ultra-cheap little implement. Find one for a few bucks at any store that sells kitchen supplies. Make sure you get one made of stiff plastic (not rubbery silicone).

Rolling pin: Every baker has his or her own preferred rolling implement. My personal favorite is a 20-inch, no-handled, untapered plastic pin that’s meant for rolling fondant. My mom swears by a sturdy old vintage model, complete with handles and ball bearings. Some bakers insist that a tapered French pin is where it’s at; others are all about untapered wooden dowel. Whatever you are most comfortable with is just fine.

Long metal ruler or straightedge: From measuring various size dough rounds to cutting lattice strips, the 18-inch, stainless-steel ruler in the kitchen at the shop is in constant use.

Pie pans: Keep two standard 9-inch (23-cm) pans on hand (9 inches is the width of the top; the sides should be sloped and 1 to 1½ inches [3 to 4 cm] deep at most), either metal or oven-safe glass. No need to get fancy; decent standard brands are just fine. Don’t use disposable foil pans; they are not properly sized for 9-inch (23-cm) pies, so they won’t accommodate the recipes in this book. Ceramic pie pans are nice, but be sure to check the size—most are for deep-dish pies, a larger volume than a standard 9-inch (23-cm) pie.

Standard 12-cup metal muffin pan: For mini pies.

One (9-inch / 23-cm) springform pan: For quiche.

Eight (4½ x 2-inch / 11 x 5-cm) mini springform pans: For potpies; these pans are easy to find online, in the baking section of many craft stores, and at various chain stores carrying specialty cookware. (Alternative: 4½ x 2-inch / 11 x 5-cm ring molds.)

Baking sheets: You’ll need two large, rimmed baking sheets—called half-sheet pans at restaurant supply stores (18 x 13 inches / 46 x 33 cm). Jellyroll pans (17 x 11 inches / 43 x 28 cm) will work, too. They’re essential for getting pies in and out of the oven without sloshing the filling or mangling the crust. Baking on a sheet also catches fat that cooks out of the crust, as well as any filling that may boil over.

Parchment paper: For lining baking sheets (making for easy clean-up) and lining pie shells during the prebake.

Dried beans (a.k.a. pie weights): At Magpie we keep a 10-gallon tub of dried black turtle beans in the corner of the kitchen—that’s about 40 pounds. You’ll need about 2 pounds (4 cups) of beans to fill a 9-inch piecrust; at least double that much for a quiche or eight individual potpies. Once beans have been used as pie weights, they can’t be cooked and eaten, but they can continue to serve as pie weights for quite a long time—until they start shedding their skins. We reuse ours 3 to 4 times a week and replace once or twice a year.

Extra Gear

(handy, but entirely optional)

Plastic or silicone rolling mat: Marked with circles of various circumferences, a mat provides a very useful guide for rolling out your dough. Plus it doesn’t grab ahold of dough like a countertop does, so it requires less flour.

Pastry cutter: Like a teeny pizza cutter, this tool is nice for cutting dough into strips for lattice or shapes, though you can certainly get the job done quite well with a pizza cutter or regular kitchen knife (strips) or a paring knife or cookie cutter (shapes).

Pizza stone: Park it on the middle rack in your oven, and set your baking sheets/pie pans right on it; it will help brown up the bottom of the crust and hold the temperature of your oven better.


A few non-negotiables:

              Weigh out your ingredients. Yes indeed, use a kitchen scale and weigh each of those six ingredients you put into your piecrust. Why? Because it is an inescapable fact that volume measures are altered by humidity and other factors. The amount of flour, for instance, that fits in a measuring cup is different from one day to the next.

                  Bottom line: Good piecrust is all about preserving precise ratios between the ingredients, and weighing them is the only way to achieve this. Plus, the time and effort of weighing is minimal—arguably easier and less messy than using measuring cups and spoons. So just do it! The results will delight you.

              Have your butter and vegetable shortening cubed and frozen before you start. (Note: the shortening won’t freeze hard, but it will firm up, which makes it much easier to cut into small pieces and keep from globbing back together.)

              Put your water on ice. On dough-making days at Magpie, we keep a pitcher of ice water in the kitchen and pour through a little strainer to portion the water out for each batch of dough. I recommend you do the same.

              Keep the butter, shortening, and water cold. If you get interrupted, even briefly, put everything in the refrigerator until you can get back to focusing on your pie dough.

              Plan to bake your pie at least one day after you make the pie dough—it needs a full night’s rest before it is ready to roll. (This is crucial to having dough that is workable and bakes up into a crust that is not only tender and flaky, but also keeps its shape and doesn’t shrink or otherwise misbehave.)

magpie dough for flaky piecrust

There are three distinct, fundamental steps here: 1) weigh, 2) mix, and 3) chill. Once you’ve chilled your dough overnight, you can proceed with rolling, panning, prebaking (if needed), and finishing your pie.


2 (9-inch / 23-cm) single-crust pies,

1 (9-inch / 23-cm) double-crust or lattice-top pie,

8 (4 x 2-inch / 10 x 5-cm) potpies,

12 (2 x 1-inch / 5 x 3-cm) mini pies,

1 (9 x 3-inch / 23 x 8-cm) quiche, or

8 (4-inch / 10-cm) hand pies (plus trimmings)

1) Weigh

312 grams / 2½ cups all-purpose flour

28 grams / 2 tablespoons granulated sugar

6 grams / 1 teaspoon fine salt

170 grams / ¾ cup cold unsalted butter, cut into ¼-inch cubes and frozen

60 grams / ¼ cup vegetable shortening, preferably in baking stick form, frozen, cut into ¼-inch pieces, and put back in the freezer

130 grams / ½ cup + 1 tablespoon ice-cold water

2) Mix

Combine the flour, sugar, and salt in the bowl of a food processor and pulse the machine 3 times to blend. Scatter the frozen butter cubes over the flour mixture. Pulse the machine 5 to 7 times, holding each pulse for 5 full seconds, to cut all of the butter into pea-size pieces. Scatter the pieces of frozen shortening over the flour-and-butter mixture. Pulse the machine 4 more 1-second pulses to blend the shortening with the flour. The mixture will resemble coarse cornmeal, but will be a bit more floury and riddled with pale butter bits (no pure-white shortening should be visible; see figure 1, next page).

Turn the mixture out into a large mixing bowl, and make a small well in the center. If you find a few butter clumps that are closer to marble size than pea size (about ¼ inch in diameter), carefully pick them out and give them a quick smoosh with your fingers. Pour the cold water into the well (fig. 2, next page). Use a curved bowl scraper to lightly scoop the flour mixture up and over the water, covering the water to help get the absorption started. Continue mixing by scraping the flour up from the sides and bottom of the bowl into the center, rotating the bowl as you mix (fig. 4), and occasionally pausing to clean off the scraper with your finger or the side of the bowl, until the mixture begins to gather into clumps but is still very crumbly (fig. 5). (If you are working in very dry conditions and the ingredients remain very floury and refuse to clump together at this stage, add another tablespoon of ice-cold water.)

Lightly gather the clumps with your fingers and use your palm to fold over and press the dough a few times (figs. 6–7; don’t knead!—just give the dough a few quick squishes), until it just begins to come together into a single large mass. It will be a raggedy wad (fig. 8), moist but not damp, that barely holds together; this is exactly as it should be—all it needs is a good night’s rest in the fridge.

For single- and double-crust pies, mini pies, potpies, or hand pies: Divide the dough into 2 equal portions, gently shape each portion into a flat disk 1½ to 2 inches thick, and wrap each tightly with plastic wrap.

For quiche, leave the dough in one piece, flatten it into a single large disk 1½ to 2 inches thick (fig. 9), and wrap tightly with plastic wrap.

3) Chill

No ifs, ands, or buts, the dough must have its beauty sleep. That means 8 hours in the refrigerator at the very least. Extra rest is just fine; feel free to let the wrapped dough sit in the fridge for up to 3 days before rolling. (The dough may discolor slightly. No worries. This is merely oxidization and will not affect the flavor or appearance of your finished piecrust.)

Note: At this stage, the wrapped dough can be put in a freezer bag and frozen for up to 2 months. Defrost overnight in the refrigerator before rolling.


You can use a pastry blender if you don’t have a food processor. Working quickly to prevent the butter from warming and softening, use a whisk to combine the dry ingredients in a large bowl. Scatter on the butter, and cut it into the flour with a pastry blender until all of the butter bits are pea-sized. Scatter on the shortening, and cut it into the butter and flour mixture until the only visible lumps are butter (which will remain firm while the vegetable shortening warms and softens almost immediately).

Make a small well in the center of the mixture, and proceed with the recipe as written.

single-crust pie shell

The dough recipe (page 17) makes enough for two single-crust shells. To save yourself some time next time around, you can repeat the process outlined below to make a second panned and fluted crust to freeze (double-wrapped in plastic). This is a perfect way to be prepared for coming across a great sale on fresh fruit, or to make a nice dessert to take to a party the next day.

MAKES 1 (9-inch / 23-cm) PIECRUST

½ recipe Magpie Dough for Flaky Piecrust (page 17), chilled overnight

1) Roll

Lightly flour a smooth work surface and a rolling pin.

Take a chilled disk of dough out of the fridge. Give it a couple of firm squeezes just to say hello, then unwrap it and set it on the floured work surface.

Set the pin crosswise on the dough and press down firmly, making a nice deep channel across the full width of the disk (fig. 1). Turn the disk 180 degrees and repeat, making a second indentation, forming a plus sign (fig. 2).

Use your rolling pin to press down each of the wedges, turning the dough 45 degrees each time. This will give you the beginnings of a thick circle (fig. 3).

Now, rolling from the center outward and rotating the dough a quarter turn to maintain a circular shape, roll the dough out to a 13-inch circle with an even thickness of ¼ inch (figs. 4–9; see Tips for Dough-Friendly Rolling, page 28).

2) Pan

Set your 9-inch (23-cm) pie pan alongside the circle of dough. Brush off any loose flour, carefully fold the dough circle in half, transfer it to the pan, and unfold (figs. 1–3).

At this point the dough will be lying across rather than fitted into the pan. Now, without stretching the dough, set the dough down into the pan so that it is flush up against the sides and bottom. The best way to do this is to gingerly lift the dough and gently shift it around so that it settles into the pan bit by bit. Use a very light touch to help cozy it in (figs. 4–6).

To flute the edge, fold the overhang under to form a 1-inch wall that rests on the lip of the pan with the seam slightly below the pan’s top edge (figs. 7–8). Go around the edge of the pan and use a very light touch to firm up the wall to an even thickness from the bottom to the top and all the way around (fig. 9). Flute the edge of the crust at about 1-inch intervals, pressing from the inside with the knuckle of your index finger while supporting on the outside with the thumb and index finger of your opposite hand (figs. 10–12). Don’t pinch the dough, you want the flute to look like a thick rope.

Transfer the crust to the refrigerator to chill while you make your filling or to the freezer to prepare it for prebaking (see the next page). Alternatively, at this point the crust can be covered tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerated for up to 3 days or double-wrapped and frozen for up to 2 months (defrost overnight in the refrigerator before filling and baking or prebaking, or at room temperature for 30 minutes).

3) Prebake

To prebake the shell, chill the panned, fluted piecrust in the freezer until firm, 15 to 20 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 375°F (190°C) with a rack in the center. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Cut an additional 13 x 13-inch square of parchment.

Set the pan on the lined baking sheet. Set the square of parchment in the pie shell and gently smooth it into place, pleating as needed to fit it up against the bottom and sides of the shell. The edges of the paper will project beyond the rim of the pan; just leave them standing straight up.


  • "Beautiful pies (and a lot of gorgeous atmosphere) from an iconic Philadelphia pie shop make this a book that will appeal to crust-making pros and amateurs alike."— naming Magpie one of Fall 2015's Best Cookbooks: Sweet and Savory Baking
  • "Gorgeously illustrated with full-color photographs, Magpie is as informative as it is delicious. The plethora of recipes will have readers reaching for their aprons so they can whip up a pie or two to share with those they love."—Shelf Awareness
  • "Full-color photos, step-by-step images, and a contemporary, clean design round out this stellar title."

    Publishers Weekly

On Sale
Sep 15, 2015
Page Count
240 pages
Running Press

Holly Ricciardi

About the Author

Holly Ricciardi is a former graphic designer-turned-pastry chef. Her Pennsylvania German roots instilled in her a devotion to great pie from a young age, and she opened Magpie in September 2012. The shop’s constantly changing menu of seasonal sweet and savory pies has had Philadelphians lining up ever since. Magpie has been featured in Daily Candy, Travel + Leisure, Conde Nast Traveler, Philadelphia Magazine, Where Magazine, Zagat, Yahoo, and Thrillist among others. Holly lives in Philadelphia.

Miriam Harris hails from the San Francisco Bay Area, where she developed a zeal for seasonal, eclectic cooking early in life. Decades later, after editing hundreds of cookbooks at Food & Wine Books and Rodale Books, she turned to writing them. Her writing collaborations have included The Bob’s Red Mill Cookbook, The Latin Road Home with Iron Chef Jose Garces, and Indulge, with Real Housewives star Kathy Wakile. Miriam lives in New Jersey.

Learn more about this author