Sure, I know pie crusts can be found pretty easily in the refrigerator section of the grocery store. But I would argue that it can be a really fun process to learn how to make your own crust. For me, my pie crusts have been a labor of love over the years. I’m constantly perfecting my pie crusts with lots of practice. I play with how I crimp the edges, mess with the latices, and design different patterns on the top. But really, in the end, if I’m going to bother to make a pie filling, then it seems that the least I could do is surround the filling with a little extra love.
Pie crust recipes are not super complicated. The ingredients don’t vary much between one recipe and the other. The difference between a flakey crust and a less perfect crust comes out in the techniques. This post is intended to give you a quick start into making a crust. I learned originally from a basic recipe in my Betty Crocker cookbook, and that’s still where I sometimes send people for help.
If you decide you want more pie crust in your life, then I recommend delving into more details after you have tried a basic recipe a few times. This will give you a feel for where you need to polish your technique. There are lots of good classes, books, and videos available with tips to a great pie crust. But for beginners, I recommend keeping it simple and not getting too bogged down in the details.
Here are a couple of my tips to get started:
- One, keep things chilled – this includes both the ingredients and yourself.
- Two, roll from the center of the dough out.
- Three, give yourself time. Start the dough the morning or even day before you want to bake the pie. This allows time for chilling and also time for mistakes.
Butter Pie Crust
- 2 1/2 cups (300 g) all-purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 14 T unsalted butter, chilled and cut into cubes (see notes)
- 1/2 cup ice water + 1-2 T more as needed
- Additional flour for rolling out dough
- In a large bowl, add the flour and salt and stir to combine. Add the butter to the flour and toss with your fingers. At this point, you can use a pastry blender, or your fingers to cut the butter into the flour. You should try to work quickly here. If you are using your fingers and it is a warm day, you can chill your fingers with ice cubes before you start. The key is to try to keep the dough chilled. If using your fingers, rub the butter into the flour. Cut the butter into the dry ingredients until the mixture looks crumbly and the largest pieces are the size of peas.
- Sprinkle ice water, one to two tablespoons at a time, over the mixture and toss with your fingers or two forks. Add water by the tablespoon until the dough holds together when you squeeze a handful of it.
- Turn the dough out onto the counter and divide the dough in half. Gently shape each half into a disc about 4-5 inches across. If you are making a lattice top pie, you can shape the dough into a 6×3 inch rectangle. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap. Seal any broken edges by rolling the wrapped dough along the edge. Place in the refrigerator and chill for at least a couple hours before rolling out. Ideally, the dough can be made the day ahead.
- At this point, the dough will keep about 2 days in the fridge or it can be put into plastic bags and frozen for up to 6 months. If frozen, remove it the day before you plan to use and thaw in the fridge.