Pie

Perfect Pie Crust

If you are looking for the number one way to impress people this Thanksgiving and Holiday Season look no further than this recipe!! Making pie crust from scratch doesn’t have to be scary but you can for sure tell all your friends and family how you slaved away on it for hours!! Secret is safe with me!

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Pie crust is not something I have always felt comfortable making on my own, I’ll be honest.  I used to make it with my Grandma and she made it look SOOO EASY (don’t they always?) Then, when we were living in Virginia and my parents were coming to visit I wanted to make my Dad his favorite apple pie… well… the pie crust making process got the best of me and I was in tears because it just wouldn’t roll without breaking!! At that point I was using the traditional Betty Crocker recipe which uses only Crisco as the fat.  I began experimenting more with incorporating butter, etc and have finally come up with this foolproof recipe.  Not only will you NOT cry while you make it (score!), you will be AMAZED at how unbelievably buttery and FLAKY this crust is.  I’ve served it now several times to my husband, family and friends and they can’t get past the crust- it doesn’t matter what’s in the pie! All they talk about is this crust!  This recipe will make two 9-inch circles which can be used as top and bottom of a fruit pie or two topless pies like pumpkin or pecan.

Before we get into the recipe, let’s talk the basics and how you can avoid common pie crust dilemmas!

Pie Crust Basics:

  1. Combining all purpose flour with cake flour. Could you use only all purpose flour? Of course. Does using cake flour give the crust it’s signature ultra flaky feel? YES. I won’t get into the weeds on this but cake flour has less protein than regular all purpose flour, creating a light and airy dough with flakes you can literally pull apart with your hands.  This was the game changer in my recipe- thanks to Julia Child for suggesting it in one of her cookbooks!
  2. Use cold fat.  I probably stress this in EVERY one of my posts but the colder the fat is going into the oven the better those pockets of air (creating flakiness) will be.  After working the dough with your hands to put the pie together, I’d suggest chilling it before putting in the oven. Takes more time but makes all the difference.
  3. Your pie crust shouldn’t be completely cold when you roll it out.  This is one of those Goldilocks and the 3 little bears situations.  I used to try rolling out my dough when it was warm — these are the times when I cried.  Then, I tried rolling it when it was just out of the fridge and really cold.  I found the dough to be too rigid and it broke really easily.  What process is juuuussst rightttt?? Chilling your dough but not for too long so you can easily work with it yet it’s not room temp and falling apart.
  4. You can’t overcook a pie.  This is less to do with crust specifically and more with pies in general but you really can’t overcook a pie… and you’d much rather have an ultra soft fruit filling than bite into a pie and have the applies crunch because you were too worried you’d burn the crust if you kept it in.   Most recipes ask you to remove the pie once the insides are bubbling but feel free to leave it in a little longer than that.

Common pie crust problems and how to fix them:

  1. My crust is falling apart in my hands.  Your dough is too warm.  Make sure you are using cold fats and chilling the dough for a little bit before your roll it out.
  2. The edges of my crust are cracking when I try to roll it out.  Cracks usually mean there isn’t enough moisture in the crust OR it’s too cold, so you can prevent this by making sure you dough is wet enough before you ball it up and chill it (but not for too long).  If you’re already rolling your dough have no fear! You can save the day!  Wet your fingers with water and gently fix the crack in the dough.  Then, rub a little flour on top so it doesn’t stay wet and sticky.
  3. My pie crust is sticking to my countertop and I can’t transfer it.  Make sure you are always working on a very well floured surface- seriously you can’t over flour here.  I also suggest moving your pie dough around as you roll it out so you can check yourself and make sure it isn’t sticking.  Feel it get stuck?  Carefully peel up or use a spatula and then flour underneath again.  Continue rolling.
  4. The edges of my pie crust are burning but the pie isn’t done baking yet.  The edges of the pie crust usually brown first and that’s ok! You can cover them with tinfoil and continue baking the pie for as long as you need.  Simply fold up tinfoil and curve around the edges of the pie or cut a big circle in your square tinfoil piece and lay on top.  You can also buy pie crust shields but seriously tinfoil works fine.

Perfect Pie Crust

makes two 9-inch rounds

  • 1 1/2 cup of all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup of cake flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp white sugar
  • 1/2 cup cold crisco
  • 1 1/4 cup cold butter (12 tbsp)
  • up to 1/2 cup cold water, added 1 tbsp at a time

Step One: Measure out your dry ingredients (flours, salt and sugar) and whisk them together in a large bowl.

Step Two: Cut the butter into smaller pieces like shown below and add into your dry ingredients.

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Step Three: Using a pastry cutter (very preferable) begin working the butter into the dry ingredients until it looks something like this:

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Step Four: Measure out your crisco and put that into the bowl as well.  Using the pastry cutter, work the fats into the dry ingredients for several minutes until the dough looks like coarse crumbs or the fat is roughly the size of peas.  You’ll get a good arm workout!

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Step Five: Measure out the 1/2 cup of cold water and add it in 1 tbsp at a time while stirring gently with a wooden spoon.  It’s usually safe to start out with about 6 tbsp and then slowly begin the process.  You want your dough to just come together like the below, you should start using your hands in the end to gather it up.  You may not use all the water.

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Step Six: Turn the dough out onto a WELL floured surface and work it gently with your hands into a ball/ disks/ something or other that looks like the below. Cut it in half and then create two circular disks flattened on the top and bottom.  Cover tightly with plastic wrap.  Let chill in the freezer about 15 minutes before rolling out or fridge for a bit longer.  TIP: No, I’m not THAT bad at splitting something down the middle.. I purposefully make one half bigger than the other.  Reason? If you are making a top and bottom dough pie the bottom needs to be slightly bigger than the top because it’s going to fill and come up the sides.

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Follow any pie recipe using this dough! Enjoy!!