Paul Hollywood's Tips For The Absolute Best Pie Crust - Exclusive

Paul Hollywood may be more famous as a stern judge of other people's baked goods on "The Great British Baking Show" than as a culinary educator, but that's just the role he plays on TV. In real life, he's very encouraging. As he put it to Tasting Table in an exclusive interview, "I love baking. I love evangelizing about baking and trying to get everybody to bake. That's the point of the 'Baking Show.'" As attested to by Paul Hollywood's numerous cookbooks, he really does love to teach people how to bake.

The holiday season is a time when many people who might not often bake try their hand at making desserts. Even celebrities get in on the action — Hollywood recently judged "The Great American Baking Show: Celebrity Holiday" on The Roku Channel. One dessert component that is notoriously tricky for novice bakers to get right is the pie crust. Whoever coined the phrase "easy as pie" didn't know what they were talking about, because pastry shells for pies are anything but easy.

In an exclusive interview with Tasting Table, Paul Hollywood shared some tips to help out hapless home bakers with their pie crusts. He knows what he's talking about — not only is he a famous baker, but he makes mince pies as part of his holiday celebration every Christmas.

There are two ways to make a good pie crust

Paul Hollywood's first tip applies to shortcrust pastry doughs, like our basic pie crust recipe. For this type of dough, "You've got to bring [the pastry] together but not overwork it because then it gets too rubbery," he said. Hollywood emphasized using a gentle touch, saying, "You've got to barely bring it together." This is the technique most likely to apply to American dessert pies, but there is another option for making pie dough. Per Hollywood, "You make what's called the hot water crust pastry, which has got lard in it, and it's a great sealant inside. I traditionally use that for a pork pie." This type of pie crust is mixed more vigorously.

No matter what type of pie crust you choose to make, a clean oven and high-quality ingredients will be your friends. "Don't scrimp the money on ingredients," he advised. "Always go for the best, and that will make sure that your baking is going to taste great as well." He also emphasized that it's important for your oven to be clean "to make sure that your oven achieves the temperature that it's saying it is."

You can watch "The Great American Baking Show: Celebrity Holiday" now on The Roku Channel.