American Pie Crust My Way

So here’s the thing.  The expression is “easy as pie”, but many people are intimidated by making crust.  Believe me when I tell you it is worthwhile to learn how.  Pie is really all about the crust and this crust will ruin you for anything but homemade.

Here are the ingredients that you will need to make two pie crusts for an 8-9 inch pie.

  • 2 1/2 cups (11.5 ounces) all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon (5 grams) kosher salt
  • 12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks or 6 ounces) cold unsalted butter, cubed
  • 8 tablespoons (3.5 ounces) cold Crisco, cubed
  • 1/2 cup ice water, approx.

Note:  Pie is all about the marriage of flour and fat.  Some people prefer an all-butter crust which is more crisp than flaky.  My Uncle Bill aka The Pie Master touts lard for the absolute best crust, although he doesn’t use it anymore and I’ve never tried it.  I like the flavor of butter and the flakiness of Crisco, so I use both. In fact, You can play around with the ratio of Crisco to butter.  In my commercial baking, I use very little Crisco and more butter, because that is popular and works well in a more industrial setting. 

You can also play around with the water, using part milk or even part vodka.

Step one, cut the butter and Crisco into cubes.  I recommend that the butter be about 1/2 inch cubed and the Crisco be slightly larger (because it breaks down in the food processor more quickly). Place them in a bowl and put the bowl in the freezer for about 15 minutes.  That brings us to the 1st Rule of Delicious Pie Crust:  Keep everything cold.

Place the flour and salt in the food processor.

Pulse a couple of times to incorporate the salt into the flour.  Place the ice water next to the food processor so it is at the ready.  Then scatter the very cold butter and Crisco over the flour.  This is 2nd Rule of Delicious Pie Crust:  Use lots of fat.  Secret’s out!

Hit the pulse button 7-8 times for about 1 second until the mixture is the consistency of cornmeal with some larger pieces about the size of peas.

Now add about 1/4 cup of the ice cold water and quickly pulse a couple of times.  Add a couple more tablespoons of water and pulse again.  Chances are you will need to add the final two tablespoons of water and pulse one last time.  The dough will start to clump together, but you don’t want it to form into a ball.  That’s too much.  When it’s done, it looks kind of like this.

Dump the contents onto a lightly floured cool surface.

Now we come to 3rd Rule of Delicious Pie Crust:  Don’t overwork the dough.  Using lightly floured hands, quickly form the dough into a rough ball.

Take a knife or bench scraper and cut the crust into two equal halves.  When you look at the cut side of the dough, you should see bits of butter still in tact.

Place each half on it’s own piece of plastic wrap.  Then use the wrap and your knuckles (because they are cooler than your palms) to press the dough into a disk about 5 1/2 inches in diameter.

Notice how you can see bit of butter and crisco in the dough.

Wrap the plastic wrap around the dough tightly and place these disks of dough in the fridge for at least an hour and up to 4 days.  You can also freeze them for up to a month, but thaw frozen dough for several hours in the fridge before trying to roll it out.

For more than you ever wanted to know about what to do next, see my post on Rolling Out Pie Dough.

RECIPE for PIE CRUST in PRINT-FRIENDLY FORMAT

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