Essentials: All Butter Pie Crust

Pie crust can be intimidating. Before the apple pie project my senior year of college, I had never made my own pie crust. My mom always used the ones from Pillsbury that came pre-rolled. I tease her about it now, but I understand where she was coming from. She's a single and working mom. She's gotta lot of stuff to do! Why should she fuss around with something that she didn't feel comfortable with when she had an alternative that was reliable and only took 5 minutes?

When I first started making my own crusts she tried to argue the difference in quality and taste. Now it's clear that there's no competition between the two. Making scratch pie crust is 100% worth the extra effort. 100%

This recipe is a product of like three or four different others most notably The Smitten Kitchen & Martha Stewart. I use this recipe for just about everything! If I know I want to go a savory route in advance, I may omit the sugar. Even so, I've used this recipe as is for quiches and they've turned out great!

ALL BUTTER PIE CRUST

Makes enough for a double crust pie or two single crust pies.

 

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1 cup of cold unsalted butter
  • 1 tbs. sugar
  • 1 cup of ice water

TOOLS:

  • large bowl
  • whisk
  • sturdy pastry blender
  • silicone spatula

Combine your flour, salt, and sugar in a large mixing bowl. Whisk to combine. Take your cold butter (no need to freeze it, but it should have spent a good chunk of time in your fridge beforehand) and cut each stick at least in half. This will make it easier to cut into the flour.

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Using your pastry blender work the butter into your dry ingredients until you get uneven and small lumps. The biggest lumps can be about the size of a penny in diameter. 

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Begin incorporating your water. Most people will tell  you a specific amount of water to use, but it's a fickle thing. Finding the right balance will take some time. I typically use my 1/2 cup measure to ladle out some ice water into the bowl and then work it all together with a spatula before adding anything else. You're looking for everything to be evenly shaggy like in the picture below.

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When you feel good about your water content, stick you (clean) hands in and work the dough into two evenly sized balls. If your dough isn't holding together, add a little bit more water and give it a good stir before attempting the balls again. You don't want to use your body heat to melt the butter into ball shapes. You want to keep everything as cold as possible so the butter can evaporate off in the oven. 

With some plastic wrap or aluminum foil, wrap up your balls and flatten them into discs. Let them chill in the fridge for at least 20 minutes.

The hardest part of making pie dough is over and now is a good time to prep your filling. If you're impatient or behind schedule or whatever, you can just jump into rolling out your dough from this last step. CAVEAT: IF YOU DO NOT CHILL YR DOUGH, THE FINAL PRODUCT WILL NOT BE AS FLAKY. Pie is all about preference. This is the recipe that works for me and delivers a really beautiful, flaky, buttery crust. If those are things that you are not looking for, don't chill your dough.

Do you anything different with your pie crust? Any tricks or quirks? Do you do that weird vodka thing? I don't like the vodka trick, but lemme know in the comments!