Flaky, buttery delicious pie crust recipe for one double-crust, or two single-crust pies (or quiches). Pie crust freezes well, so you can freeze one half if not using and thaw overnight in the fridge next time you need it.
I did not bake my first pie from scratch until September 2016.
Why not, you ask?
Well, I was afraid.
Pies looked so…complicated. The crust looked so difficult to make. There is all this talk on cooking forums of “pie genes” and how you either have them or you don’t. Sort of like the ability to do cloning. Some people just don’t have the right touch that it takes to coax foreign DNA into cells. What if pie baking really is like that?
What if I was one of those people who just didn’t have pie genes? Can you imagine the shame I would have to live with for the rest of my life as a cook and baker?!
No, it was too much to bear. I chose to avoid baking pie. But, finally, in 2016, I was so sick of eating bad pie, that I decided to tackle learning to make my own pie crust.
To tell you the truth, my second attempt at pie was not great either. But, this time, the crust was very good, but my filling — apple — was too runny and as soon as I had cut into my pie (after the necessary three hours of cooling), I had, instead of apple pie, apple pie soup. The crust was so tasty that K and I broke the sides of my pie off and dunked it into the apple soup, topped it with a piece of apple, and ate it as a deconstructed apple pie dessert.
On my third attempt, I got both pie and filling right. This year, I have baked a pie every weekend in November…and one extra pie for K’s birthday.
My friends keep asking me for my “secret pie crust recipe”. I do not have a secret recipe. My recipe comes straight from Chicago’s famous Hoosier Mama Pie Company cookbook, with one or two trivial modifications. The recipe below looks long, but really isn’t. It just looks long because I decided to include all the details a beginning pie baker would need to make a good pie crust. I really dislike recipes that say they are for beginners but then give so little procedural details that I have to look up almost every step and sub-technique on the internet. What is the point of a recipe like that?!
Making, rolling, filling and baking a pie can seem like so much work, but there is no reason you have to do it all on one day. I often make my pie crust on Saturday morning, roll it out on Saturday evening, and then fill and bake it on Sunday morning. The pie crust fitted inside the pie plate will be fine in the fridge overnight. If you want to keep it chilled longer, wrap it in plastic wrap to keep it from drying out.
My motto now is that if I am going to consume a quarter of my day’s calorie limit in pie, it must be good pie. I do not want to eat pie with gummy or greasy dough. I can also tell when a pie crust was made with mostly shortening, because although it feels perfect, it tastes of absolutely nothing. I want flaky dough that tastes of delicious butter with a hint of sweetness to complement the sweet filling inside.
- 196 g (1¾ sticks) unsalted butter, divided
- 333 g (2¼ cups) all-purpose flour
- 2½ tsps kosher salt
- 1 Tbsp granulated sugar
- 1 Tbsp vinegar
- ½ cup cold water
- non-stick cooking spray
- Stir the vinegar into the water and keep in the fridge.
- Cut all the butter into ½” cubes. Freeze ¾ sticks (82.5 g) of butter for 20 minutes. Chill the remaining butter in the fridge until the second you need it.
- Pulse the flour, salt, and sugar in the food processor 5-6 times to combine. Add the chilled butter and process until the mixture resembles course meal, about 20-25 seconds. Add the frozen butter and pulse 5-6 times. The frozen butter should be in pea-sized pieces. If the butter is too large, pulse a few times, and check again.
- Add 6 tablespoons of the chilled water-vinegar mixture and pulse 6 times. The dough should start to look crumbly, like grated parmesan cheese, but should not come together in a ball in the food processor. Test the dough by squeezing a little bit of dough in your hand; if the dough holds together easily, it is done. If the dough crumbles apart, then add 1 tablespoon of vinegar, pulse 3 more times, and test again. Repeat this process until the dough holds together when tested. The dough should never come together in a ball inside the food processor.
- Transfer the dough onto a clean kitchen counter. Bring the dough togethether, and knead 3-5 times until smooth. Divide the dough into two halves and form each half into a ball. Flatten the balls slightly, wrap in plastic wrap, and place in the fridge to rest for at least 20 minutes (but preferably overnight).
Rolling the Dough:
- The dough should be slightly cooler than room temperature when you roll it. How fast the dough will come to the correct temperature depends on the temperature of your kitchen. Let the dough rest for 10-15 minutes on the counter to soften it enough for rolling. The dough is ready when you can pinch the dough halfway into the dough with the index finger and thumb. However, if the dough starts to get closer to room temperature, transfer the dough to a plate or plastic cutting board and stick it in the fridge for 10 minutes. If the butter in the dough melts, you will have to start making the dough over from scratch.
- Dust your counter top liberally with flour and keep a bowl of flour nearby. Hit one of the two rounds of dough repeatedly with your rolling pin until it is twice as wide. Unwrap the dough and sprinkle the top liberally with flour.
- Roll from the centre outwards (rolling from end to end results in too much gluten formation which will make the pie crust less tender). Rotate the dough 1-2” after each roll to make sure the dough isn’t sticking to the counter and to help form an even circle. Roll until the dough is ⅛ to 1/16th inch thick and about 13” in diameter.
- Lightly coat the pie plate with non-stick cooking spray and dust with flour. Transfer the dough to the pie plate and gently press it into the pan. Trim excess pie crust to within ½ inch of the edge of the pie dish.
- If you are baking a single-crust pie, crimp the edge into a pattern of your choice. Chill the pie crust for 15-20 minutes. If you are making a double crust pie, fill the bottom crust with the filling and chill while you roll out the top crust.