In honor of her birth 102 years ago today, I am sharing a recipe from one of my heroines.

True: I ran into Julia Child years ago in an art store in Cambridge, Mass. She and I were the only shoppers there; I don’t think the store employees even recognized the 6’2″ icon.

I did. I wasn’t just starstruck: I was dumbstruck — I literally could not speak. Instead I just hovered, drinking in her distinctive voice as she talked (with her husband Paul, I believe) about the items she wanted to buy.

My mother was a Julia disciple, and our family was raised on “The French Chef,” her groundbreaking TV show. Bouillabaisse, roasts, Hollandaise sauce on Eggs Benedict: Julia taught them all to my mother, and they became the dishes of my childhood memory. In this way Julia Child was part of my family — and of millions more, I know.

Even if you didn’t grow up on Julia, you should know that this gutsy (decorated for her work with the OSS during WWII), educated (multilingual Smith grad), marvelously gregarious woman changed the way that America saw food and helped — still helps! — amateurs to prepare it better than we thought possible.

Some people say pie crust is tricky to make, but I do not fuss over it. I make it as Julia suggests: In a food processor. I’ve tinkered slightly with her amounts to make the dough more cohesive, but the ingredients and the method are unchanged. Classic, delicious, utterly reliable.

What a woman.

Julia's Pie Crust
Prep time: 
Total time: 
Serves: Two 9-inch pie shells or one pie bottom with lattice top
  • 1½ cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup bleached cake flour
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • 2 Tbsp. granulated sugar
  • 1 stick (4 oz.) chilled unsalted butter, diced
  • 3 Tbsp. chilled vegetable shortening
  • ~ ¼ cup ice-cold water
  1. Drop the flours, salt, sugar, and butter into the bowl of a food processor with a metal blade.
  2. Pulse several times in half-second bursts to break up the butter.
  3. Add the shortening, turn on machine until incorporated. (Just a few seconds.)
  4. Immediately pour in the ice water, pulsing 2-3 more times.
  5. Examine the dough: You should be able to press it into clumps that just hold together. If it's too dry, add a bit more water.
  6. As soon as the dough looks good, turn it onto a work surface and work quickly to smooth it out and shape into a ball or cake of roughly uniform texture.
  7. Put the dough in a plastic bag and refrigerate it for about 1 hour (or up to 2 days).
  8. When you're ready to roll out the dough, make sure you keep it cool. Because of the high fat content, this dough softens at room temperature and quickly becomes difficult to work with. If that starts happening, chill it again before continuing.