Basic Pie Crust
June 22, 2010
I’ve given a couple pie crust-making lessons to friends in the past, and have also had several requests to do so, so I thought I would write a pie crust-making post. The term “easy as pie” isn’t all that accurate, in my opinion, unless you’re well practiced at the art of the pie crust. I’ve been making pie since I was a kid, and I still think it’s tricky. So if you’re first pie crust doesn’t turn out exactly like you’ve hoped, don’t be discouraged! It takes practice.
I use a recipe from Joy of Cooking, Deluxe Butter Flaky Pastry Dough. I almost always use this recipe, unless I’m out of butter…then I make a Crisco crust. The butter crust has so much more flavor, and goes with anything from fruit pies to custard. You can also use it as a tart crust. It’s all about the process…you have to be quick, and not work with the dough very much.
Aunt Suzy says
This crust sounds delicious and like something I need to try. I will ask Margaux to give me a lesson next time I visit her! I have used the Crisco crust recipe since learning it at my Mom’s side many years ago. It has always served me well and the only variation I’ve made is to occasionally make it with lard, which makes an even better crust. I use this approach sparingly because of lack of availability and that it’s not that good for you! But then I might argue the same for 2 sticks of butter or of Crisco. Pie crust, however, is good for the soul and what would life be like without pie?!!
Deluxe Butter Flaky Pastry Dough
Makes two 9-inch pie crusts, or two 9 1/2- or 10 inch tart crusts, or one covered pie crust
Using a rubber spatula, thoroughly mix in a large bowl:
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon white sugar or 1 tablespoon powdered sugar
1 teaspoon salt
Working quickly to prevent softening, cut into 1/4-inch pieces:
1/2 pound (2 sticks) cold unsalted butter
Add the butter to the dry ingredients. Using a pastry blender or 2 knives, chop the butter into pea-sized pieces.
1/4 cup solid vegetable shortening
With a few quick swipes of the pastry blender [or two butter knives], cut the shortening into large chunks and distribute throughout the bowl. Continue to chop until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs with some pea-sized pieces. Do not let the mixture soften and begin to clump; it must remain dry and powdery.
Drizzle over the flour and fat mixture:
1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon ice water
Cut with the blade side of the rubber spatula until the mixture looks evenly moistened and begins to form small balls. Press down on the dough with the flat side of the spatula. (This is where most people use their hands…I always use a spatula because your hands are hot and the butter will immediately start to melt, which is NOT good.)
If the balls of dough stick together, you have added enough water; if they do not, drizzle over the top:
1 to 2 tablespoons ice water
Cut in the water, then press with your hands until the dough coheres. The dough should look rough, not smooth. Divide the dough in half, press each half into a thick, flat disk, and wrap tightly in plastic. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes, preferably for several hours, or for up to 2 days before rolling. [Don’t skip this step] The dough can also be wrapped airtight and frozen for up to 6 months; thaw completely before rolling.
For single crust pie:
Make half recipe of deluxe butter pastry dough. Refrigerate dough for at least 30 minutes. Roll out dough, then place in 9 inch pie plate, trim edges so there’s about an inch or more overhang. Tuck overhang under. Refrigerate another 30 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 400. Take pie shell out, and crimp edges (or however you want it to look!). Line with foil, making sure there’s enough overhang to cover the edges, and fill with pie weights (or rice or beans). Bake for 20 minutes, then take out and carefully remove foil and weights. Pierce bottom all over with a fork, then place back in oven for 5-10 minutes, until nicely browned.