The recipe for my basic pie crust has pretty much been burned into my brain. Anyone from a passerby in the grocery store, to my esthetician, a buddy on Instagram, to my own mother, has “out of the blue” asked me for my pie crust recipe.
Why I have never singled the recipe out for this blog and you… no idea, but as the holidays approach and you’re warming up your pie making skills I thought it time to finally get it down on paper. Or keyboard. Or screen… whatever this is.
The key factor and number one MUST when making pie crust? Making sure everything is
Frozen butter, frozen shortening, and ice water, please. I always keep a stick or two of butter in the freezer along with sticks of solid shortening. Chilling the dough for an hour to overnight before rolling it out is another must *see Gluten*. The small little chunks of butter and shortening in your dough need to stay solid. When the crust bakes in the oven, those small chunks melt and cause tiny little layers and pockets. This is what gives your crust “flakiness” and “crispness” and keeps the whole crust flavorful and tender.
The steam/moisture that rises from the small chunks of fat also gives way to leavening and layers. When your recipe calls for you to pre-bake your crust, or “blind-bake”, you can either lay parchment on the inside of your dough that has lined the pie pan and fill it with dried beans or pie-weights… or you can prick the dough with a fork like our mothers did to allow the steam to escape and prevent it from rising and bubbling.
Another rule when rolling out your dough and lining the inside of your pie plate…. Do not stretch the dough! Always fit the rolled dough in the pan loosely, then trim off the excess. Why? Because your dough naturally shrinks when baking. If you stretch the dough and not fit in loosely, the dough will snap back while baking. No snap-backs, please.
Okay, now that you’re even more intimidated by the “make your own pie crust” challenge, let's get to the recipe.
Ingredients: Makes two standard sized crusts or one “deep-dish” crust
2 cups All-Purpose Flour
1 teaspoon kosher salt
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, FROZEN and cubed
5 tablespoons solid shortening, FROZEN and cubed
5-6 tablespoons ICE WATER
This is just a BASIC crust… all-purpose if you will. I use it for anything from Pecan Pie to Chicken Pot Pie… cobbler, galettes, quiche, Shepherd’s Pie, turnovers… whatever.
Depending on what you are making you may add a teaspoon of sugar for a lightly neutral to sweet crust… or even a large egg yolk like I do when making Apple Tarte Tatin for a richer tasting crust.
- In a food processor add the flour and salt. Give it a pulse or two to combine.
- Add in the frozen shortening and butter cubes. Pulse 4 to 5 times until you get a nice course cornmeal consistency.
- With the processor running add in the ice water one tablespoon at a time. I always seem to land on 5 tablespoons, but understand some people may need to add an additional tablespoon depending on climate and humidity. Keep the processor running until the dough balls up inside the processor on its own.
- Remove the dough to a lightly floured surface. Without handling the dough too much, shape into a nice smooth ball and then flatten. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill for one hour to overnight.
- Roll the dough out when ready.
- It takes practice… don’t freak out if you haven’t nailed the crust the first time. After a while your hands will just know when the dough is perfect. Go get’em Tiger!