Perfect Pie Crust

Making pie crust can seem intimidating. I grew up watching Food Network and was so intimated by the way the chefs would speak of the pie dough and all the ways it could go wrong. It’s too tough, it’s under baked, its over worked, it could go on and on.

Yet as intimidating as it seemed for myself, I finally decided to give it a try. Since then, pie crust has been a staple for many of my recipes.

Pie dough1

To start out, measure out the water and salt in a pyrex cup. Put it in the refrigerator to lower its temperature. The key to a good crust is to keep everything cold. On a cutting board, cube the butter into small pieces. Remember, work fast to keep the butter cold. After cubing, move the butter into a bowl and back into the refrigerator to get the temperature down again. While it’s in the fridge, you can measure out the flour.

I am making four pie crusts so the quantities you see in the photos are more than what you would actually use. 

Pie dough2

Once the butter has chilled again, use a pastry cutter to cut in the butter to the flour. You want to get it to small bits of butter coated in flour.

Pie dough3

In the photo above, I am about halfway into the cutting in process. The butter should become smaller pebble sized pieces as it is being worked into the flour. Remember, work fast, and keep it cold.

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Once the butter resembles small pebbles, it is time to add in the water and salt. Pour it over the flour mixture and use the pastry cutter to mix the two to form a dough.

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You can still see chunks of butter within the dough. Those chunks are what will give the crust its flakiness.

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Wrap tightly in saran wrap and refrigerate for at least 3 hours before using.

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When the dough is set, unwrap and place on a floured surface. I am using this dough for tarts.

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Roll the dough out to about 1/8 inch thick. You can slightly see the marbled pattern that the chunks of butter creates throughout the dough. Beautiful. 

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Press the dough into the molds and cut off any excess.

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Once it is in the molds or pie tin, place it back in the refrigerator to firm up again. The pie dough needs to be really cold before baking.

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Right before you put the crust into the oven, prick the bottom with a fork. This will allow for even baking and for steam to be able to escape. If you are going to fill the pie for baking, you would do so now. However, with this one, I am blind baking it.

Pie Dough13

To blind bake the pie, cut parchment paper squares to line the inside of the pie. I find it easiest when the parchment is first crumpled into a ball, then unrolled. This will give the paper more flexibility to fit into the crust. Fill the crusts with baking beans or rice, then bake.

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When the edges are golden brown, remove the baking weights and parchment paper. Put it back into the oven for an additional 5 minutes, until the inside of the pie is also golden brown.

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Now that is how a perfect pie crust should be.

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Look at all those layers the butter has created!

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And it’s golden brown all around, even on the bottom of the tart. Once it has slightly cooled, you can remove it from the molds and used however you would like!

Perfect Pie Crust

recipe from Tartine Bakery

1/2 tsp salt

1/3 c very cold water (I placed in freezer for 5-10 min)

1 1/2 c + 1 Tbsp flour

1/2 c + 3 Tbsp unsalted butter, cubed and chilled

Dissolve salt in water and keep refrigerated until needed. With a pastry blender, cut in the butter and flour until the butter is the size of small pebbles. Work as fast as possible. Add in the water and continue to cut it into the dough until it loosely holds together. Roll it together so that it holds, wrap in saran wrap and refrigerate for at least 3 hours, or overnight.

When ready to use, roll the dough out onto a floured surface. Press it into the pie crust or molds, then trim off any excess. Return to the refrigerator to firm up for 5-10 minutes. Then, prick the bottom of the pie with a fork to form small holes. Line the pie crust with parchment paper and fill with pie weights. Bake in a 375 degree oven for 20-25 minutes, until the edges are golden brown. Remove the pie weights and parchment paper and place back into the oven for 5-10 minutes, until the inside crust is browned and dry. Use as desired.

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