Tools and techniques of the trade of cooking
How to make pie dough from scratch is one of the basic skills necessary to become a good cook. Learn this and you are on your way to greatness.
Why, you ask. Because I told you to…. Oh, sorry I digress to my teen years and flashed on my father. I’m thinking that we all should be able to make a killer pie crust from scratch without looking at a recipe.
Just in case we are unexpectedly on a cooking show?
No, how about, because it is way better than store bought dough in a tin pan.
Scratch pie crust “makes” a pot pie great, or a cherry pie amazing, or a hot apple pie melt in your mouth.
But I’m going to go with “Because I told you to…..
How it should end up
- Are you accustomed to your pie crust tasting like freezer burn?
- Does it crumble into tiny pieces when you touch it with a fork?
- Is it the last thing sitting on every one’s plate?
If you answered yes to any of these then you have been using store bought pie crust.
Your crust should be flakey not dry and it should melt in your mouth and enhance the flavor of your pie. If you are thinking that every attempt you’ve made at your own pie crust has turned out tasting like cardboard, then you are trying too hard.
Pie crust is only flour, butter, salt, and water
The rest is up to you. The only way to screw this up is by overworking the dough or using ingredients that are too warm.
flour by its very nature contains a protein called gluten. When the flour gets wet with any liquid, those glutens link together to form chains. Gluten chains are great when you make bread.
The more you work the dough, the more chains of gluten proteins are formed and those chains trap gases in the dough making it rise during cooking.
Bread flour has more gluten than all purpose flour, pastry flour, less. We don’t want our pie crust to rise at all. We want it to be flaky and tender, not chewy, and soft. So…… don’t work the pie dough more than it takes to mix it together.
If you bake, you might soften your butter before you incorporate it into the batter.
DO NOT soften the butter when making a pie crust.
In fact you want your butter as cold as you can get it and still cut it. I slice my cold butter then put it in the freezer before cutting it into small bits. Then those bits are barely distributed by mixing them thought out the dough.
Your pieces of butter should look like small yellow peas in the flour. The pieces of cold butter will melt and expand when cooked to make your pie crust flaky.
What Have We Learned?
Chill all of your ingredients and the bowl before making your dough.
Double Pie Crust Recipe
Ingredients - to make a double pie crust, or two single crusts, use
- 2 1/2 cups pastry flour or all - purpose flour
- 1 cup unsalted butter or 2 sticks cut into pats
- 1 tsp kosher salt or a little less not more
- 1 cup ice water you won't need it all
- Chill all your ingredients and the work bowls in the freezer for 10-15 minutes
- put the flour salt and butter pats into a chilled food processor bowl
- Pulse until the butter is the size of small peas 10 -15 pulses- they don't have to be consistent - less is more
- Pour about a tablespoon of the ice water through the feed tube of your processor while pulsing once or twice
- Depending on the conditions in your kitchen you will now need anywhere from a few tablespoons to 1/2 cup or more of the ice water
- open the lid and squeeze some of the flour mixture in your hand. If it sticks together you are done. If not add a tablespoon or two of water and test again
- when it "just" sticks together continue
- dump the work bowl onto a large sheet of plastic wrap on your work bench
- bring the sides of the plastic together and squeeze the dough
- if at any point the mixture seems to be warming up or the butter is melting, put it back in the freezer for a few minutes
- repeat bringing the plastic up from several sides until the dough comes together
- Wrap the dough ball in the plastic tightly and put it in the refrigerator for 30 minutes or more.
- You are now ready to roll out your dough to make the crust
- dust your work surface lightly with flour and turn out the dough
- roll it out until it is just less than 1/4" thick and about 2 inches bigger than your pie pan
- using a rolling pin, loosely roll the dough around the pin to transfer to your pie pan.
- lifting the edges as needed tuck the dough into the pan
- use scissors or a knife to trim the extra dough or with some sharp edged pans you can just roll the rolling pin across the top to cut the extra dough off.
- Pinch with your thumb and forefinger to crimp the edge if using a normal pan.
- Your finished crust will be beautiful