I met the curator of all things pie. Her name is Ellen. She forever changed my pie dough anxiety. I’ve tend to over think many things and making pie dough is no exception. With Ellen’s help, my crust crisis is now long gone. So what’s the secret to making a flakey buttery pie dough? Relax, have fun and have a bit of patience.
Chances are you already have the ingredients on hand for a great pie dough. All you need is butter, flour, sugar and salt, elements that are true to my heart. This basic dough is amazing with all pies — fruit and cream. Once you have the basics down, you can go rogue and play with additional flavors. If you’re making a chicken pot pie or perhaps a roasted root vegetable galette, try adding some dried herbs to the dough to give it a savory kick. If you want dough that has a deeper sweetness, perhaps a base for pecan pie, add some brown sugar with the white sugar.
What about actually making the dough? That’s where both fun and patience come into play. Keep in mind, a good pie crust is all in the butter, cold butter. Cut into cubes or shredded on a box grater, the sweet cream, unsalted butter must be chilled. You’ll want to add the cold butter pieces to the dry elements and gently toss until coated. The fun is just beginning. I suggest using your hands so you feel and see the texture as your combine the butter to flour. Using your fingertips, rub the flour and butter together. You’re not mashing it together, rather, combining it with a gentle ease, the slightest of a massage. You’re aiming for the ubiquitous pea-sized pieces or a resemblance of corn meal. Don’t worry if you have some larger butter pieces left; it’s perfectly fine. The butter will melt as the crust bakes and the water in the butter will create steam, lifting the layers of deliciousness.
Patience is needed as the dough comes together. By slowly running the liquid, (chilled water with a splash of cider vinegar) around the rim of the bowl, continue to gently work the dough. As you gently combine everything together, you’ll see it begin to hold. That’s it, stop and gather into a ball, wrap it and place in the fridge until you’re ready to use it. I personally like to make pie dough by hand, but you can use a food processor. If you do the latter, you need to watch it carefully and be able to know when to stop. You don’t want to over work the dough. Whether in a machine or by hand, an overworked dough results in a tough dough. Because this is so easy, try making some pie dough sooner than later. You can freeze the dough until you’re ready to roll out.
This holiday season, with some fun, patience and flour on my apron, I bet my family will find themselves thumbing piece of pie crust off their plates.
No More Pie Crust Anxiety
This is a wonderful pie dough recipe that's easy and stress free. Once you have it down, play around with other flavors.
- 2 1/2 cups All-Purpose Flour
- 1 tbs sugar
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 cup (2 sticks) cold, unsalted butter, cut into small pieces/cubes
- 1/2 cup ice cold water combined with 2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar keep in freezer
In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, and salt. Add cold butter pieces, tossing to coat the flour mixture. Use your fingers to incorporate the butter, gently rubbing the butter pieces between your fingers, tossing the flour/fat mixture until it’s chunky; mostly pea-sized pieces with some larger pieces.
Retrieve the water from the freezer and pour half the liquid around the edge of the bowl, tossing the dough to incorporate the water. Add almost all the of the remaining liquid, again tossing the dough, just until it becomes slightly shaggy and not overly moist. If the dough feels dry, add the additional liquid. The dough should just keep its shape.
Gather the dough together, divide in half, gently press it into discs and wrap in plastic. Refrigerate for at least an hour before rolling.
You can roll out the dough into your pie plate, wrap it in plastic and keep in the freezer and pull it out when you’re ready to bake it off