Prep School: How to Make Perfect Pie Crust

Indispensable Pie Dough

Prep School: How to Make Perfect Pie Crust

Okay, raise your hand if you’re a dough phobe. Come on, admit it! There’s nothing for you to be ashamed of. Pastry can be daunting (especially with its scary reputation for being particularly tricky). I’m here to hopefully allay your fears and help thee to get into the kitchen and make ye some seriously good homemade pie dough! Enough of the colonialisms. This is your year to master the technique, so if you’re ready for Pie Crust 101, class is in session. Here are my best tips:

  • Rule #1: Fat = Flavor. The key to a flaky, flavorful pie crust is a combination of butter and shortening (the non-hydrogenated kind, of course!). Grandma was right on this one.
  • Rule #2: Chill out! Not only you but, more importantly, your ingredients. Start out with really, really cold ingredients (butter, shortening and water). In Piedom, your Frigidaire will become your new BFF during the dough-making process. You’ll use it early and will continue to do so to keep the dough in line if it starts to slack off and get soft on you. Just pop it in the fridge for 20 minutes or so, to get it back on track and you’re good.
  • Rule #3: That kitchen workhorse, the food processor, is the best thing for getting the job done. It’s quick, so the ingredients stay cold. Just avoid over-processing the ingredients, which will result in a tough crust and a massive bummer for you.
  • Rule #4: Roll the dough out on a piece of lightly floured parchment paper – you can easily turn the dough with the paper as you roll it.
  • Rule #5: Gently, gently, gently. If you haven’t guessed by now, dough has a mind of its own. Be very gentle when fitting the crust in the pan – don’t attempt to stretch the dough. It will pull a rebel yell on you and will shrink back as it bakes. Not pretty.

Now, now, don’t worry. I know it sounds like dough’s a bit of a troublemaker, but really, once you’ve got the basics down, it’s a sweet ride. A little confidence, a little patience is all you need (and that ice box). Just think of how pleased as punch you’ll be when you pull that baby out of the oven, beaming with pride that you made your very own pie crust! And I’ll be right here waving my pom-poms, saying, “I knew you could!  I knew you could!”

If you have only one dough in your repertory, this one’s money for all your sweet and savory masterpieces – pies, tarts, galettes, turnovers, and quiches!

Here’s how:

Step 1: Place flour, salt and sugar into a food processor fitted with a steel blade. Pulse a few times to combine.

Step 2: Scatter in butter, shortening, one egg and 1/4 cup icy water.

Step 3: Pulse until the dough starts to come together, about 10 or 11 times. It should look coarsely granular and have pea-sized lumps that hold together when squeezed.

Step 4: Dump the dough on a piece of floured parchment paper and pat into a ball; flatten into a disk, wrap in plastic and refrigerate for at least an hour. Chilling the dough allows the gluten to relax and the fat to firm up.

Step 5: Roll out the dough on a floured sheet of parchment paper – and roll from the center out, giving the dough an eighth of a turn with each roll to keep its round shape. The parchment makes this a breeze.

Step 6: To transfer your dough to the pie pan, partially roll it onto your rolling pin; lift and unroll over the pan.

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Indispensable Pie Dough

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5 Responses to Prep School: How to Make Perfect Pie Crust

  1. Susanna Cawley says:

    Am I missing the part of the recipe that says what the measurements are? How much flour, sugar, salt, butter, shortening?

  2. Holly P says:

    Help- my crust always cracks when I roll it out.

    • Sounds like you’re not turning your dough enough as you roll it out, Holly. Are you using floured parchment paper, too? Roll the dough from the center out and give the parchment paper a turn with each roll. Hope that helps.

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