How To Make Sweet Pie Crust

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The last time I did the pie crust, someone asked how you roll a round crust. I said I’d be doing it again soon, so here it is with more shots of the rolling process.

Ingredients


1½ cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
8 tablespoons cold butter (one full stick, ¼ pound)
¼ cup ice water

Directions

Mixing

Combine the flour, sugar and salt in a sieve over a large mixing bowl.


Tap the edge of the sieve until everything is sifted together.

Cut the butter in half lengthwise, and then into quarters. Then turn sideways and cut into small cubes.

Add the butter to the dry ingredients.

You want the butter to be cold when you do this. Warm butter will get absorbed into the flour. Cold butter will stay in little pockets in the dough. That’s where the flakiness comes from.

Combine the butter with the flour by “cutting it in” using a pastry cutter. My old one was an old-fashioned wire version. Total pain in the neck to use. I finally found the blade style at the restaurant supply store. Much nicer.

Cut the butter in until it forms a coarse meal, with bits of butter no larger than a pea.

Add ice water a tablespoon at a time and mix in with a fork until the flour comes together into a rough dough.

Once it starts coming together, roll the dough together into a ball.

Put the dough in a large (gallon size) zip top bag, and put it in the fridge for at least 20 minutes. This gives the butter time to cool off again before you start working the dough.

Rolling

When you take the dough out, keep it in the bag until you’re done rolling it out. Press the ball down into a roundish shape (sorry for the technical terms).


With a rolling pin, press down in the center and roll back toward yourself.

Then turn the bag a quarter turn and roll from the center toward yourself again.

Keep doing quarter turns and rolling from the center out until you have a round shape as large as you can go inside the bag.

You can refrigerate crusts at this point for several days, or freeze them for weeks before using them.

When you’re ready to use it, check the size of your pie plate against the dough.

The bottom crust in a pie needs to be an inch or two bigger across than the plate so it can go down into the plate. If yours isn’t — like mine wasn’t — flour a clean, dry surface. Turn the dough out onto it and add a little flour on top of the dough.

Roll from the center out until the dough is a couple of inches larger than the top rim of your pie plate.

Fold the crust in half over your rolling pin. Use the pin to lift the crust up and lay it across the pie plate.

Carefully tuck the crust down into the corners of the plate and fold the extra dough over on top of the rim.

Baking

For pies that need a pre-baked crust, you need to cook it without letting the crust puff up. Line the crust with foil then fill it with pie weights, beans, marbles or change.

Bake on the middle rack at 325° for 12 to 15 minutes. Then, grabbing the foil by the corners, carefully remove the pie weights. Remember they’ll be hot.

Prick the bottom of the crust with a fork. This will let steam out, again to keep it from rising.

Bake for 10 minutes more or until the bottom of the crust appears dry.

Look closely to make sure it’s dry all the way through. Clear pie plates like this one make it really easy to see if light is coming through unevenly.

Put the plate back in the oven and bake a couple of minutes at a time until it looks completely dry.

And that’s it.


Coming up next is a pie I’ve been waiting to do since I came back from vacation this past summer. I won’t say I have a new favorite pie, but it’s close.

Sweet Pie Crust

Sweet Pie Crust

Ingredients

  • 1½ cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 8 tablespoons cold butter (one full stick, ¼ pound)
  • ¼ cup ice water

Instructions

Sift together the flour, sugar and salt. Cut in the cold butter until it resembles coarse meal, with bits of butter no larger than a pea. Add ice water a tablespoon at a time and mix in with a fork until the flour comes together into a rough dough. Once it starts coming together, roll the dough together into a ball. Put the dough in a large (gallon size) zip top bag, and refrigerate for at least 20 minutes.

Roll the dough out into a circle. (You can keep it in the bag until you are done rolling and save on cleanup.) Roll the bottom crust into a circle two inches bigger than the plate it will go into. Fold the crust in half over your rolling pin. Use the pin to lift the crust up and lay it across the pie plate. Carefully tuck the crust down into the corners of the plate and fold the extra dough over on top of the rim.

For pies that need a pre-baked crust, you need to cook it without letting the crust puff up. Line the crust with foil then fill it with pie weights, beans, marbles or change. Bake on the middle rack at 325° for 12 to 15 minutes. Then, grabbing the foil by the corners, carefully remove the pie weights. Prick the bottom of the crust with a fork, and bake for 10 minutes more or until the bottom of the crust appears dry.

Comments

  1. Fabulous tutorial! I never thought to use a zipper gallon bag to roll the dough in, ingenious :)

    I made a recipe or lemon tart off the Joy of Baking website, and she chills her dough (after putting it in the pie plate and poking with fork) in the freezer for fifteen minutes and said that make the step with the foil and weights unnecessary. It worked for me. Have you ever tried that? I hate fussing with the stupid foil LOL But I’ve only tried it that one time.

  2. Hi Drew,

    I just wanted to know if the way to make a crust was the same used to make a shell? I’ve never done pie before and I want to try it out soon, so if you could let me know, that would be great!

    Cheers!

  3. Amanda, I have to admit I’m horrible about experimenting with things that work. I’d hate spending a half-hour making a crust and another 15 minutes baking it only to find out my great new tip didn’t work. The foil-and-change thing is working for me. But if I ever try to do a pie the day after taking all the change to one of those counting machines to turn it into “real money,” I’ll definitely try the freezer trick.

    Josh, yes, exact same recipe and technique. If you’re doing something with a top, just make two of these and the second one will probably be exactly the right size straight out of the bag.

  4. Frank Smith says:

    Drew,
    Some folks are scared out of their wits about making a pie crust. My mom had me doing them since I was 5 years old. Nothing is better than a homemade crust.
    A question and a tip.
    Why do you use all butter in your crust? I’m a “lard” guy or at least a 1/2 butter, 1/2 lard guy.
    The tip: For a fruit pie instead of ice water, I use orange juice. The citrus in the crust adds to the flavor of most fruit.

  5. Frank, someone asked that same question last time I posted this. My grocery store doesn’t carry lard. I even tried getting some at the butcher to render myself, but they don’t start from whole hogs. They get sides that have already had the sweetmeats and leaf lard removed. I’ll have to mail-order some, unless I can find someplace that carries it. There are a few ethnic markets near downtown that I haven’t tried yet.

  6. I’ve just found your blog and am really enjoying it.

  7. I never thought to use change as a pie weight. Awesome. Now I don’t have to buy any.

    As for lard/butter, when my brother makes a pie crust he uses half butter half Crisco. I know it doesn’t taste as good as lard, but it makes a nice light crust and then you get the flavor from the butter. And it’s easy to find.

  8. Mary, I’ve just found your comment and I’m really enjoying it. 😀

    Bob, Crisco is axle grease. Seriously.

  9. ack! a week too late!

    i just bought a wire style cutter, and it sucks! i froze my butter before using it, and the wires weren’t stiff enough to cut through!

    oh well, you live, you learn…

  10. also: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ujc0XJIJitI

    just some tips on how to get a flakey AND tender crust

  11. Mike Stockman says:

    I think I said this last time this topic came up, but lard-based crusts always feels weird in my mouth… all grainy and sticky.

    I use all butter in my crusts as well because they taste great and they’re still light and flaky as anything, as long as you don’t handle the crust too much, which your instructions cover pretty well.

  12. Jehan, sorry about the timing. I actually took these photos before Thanksgiving, I’ve just been so busy I only got the writeup done now. You’re right about the frozen butter issue. Freeze the butter like you should, and the wires are useless.

    Thanks for the link, by the way. I love Alton Brown. He’s great for showing not just the recipe and the technique, but why the technique works.

    Mike, I’ve heard so many people rave about the lard crust that I’m just going to have to try it for myself. Eventually. You can bet I’ll post my opinion once I try it.

  13. I love Alton Brown’s Good Eats show… the science of food!
    Pie crusts and I have never gotten along… I usually end up throwing the dough across the kitchen into the sink! Biscuits have that effect on me too! lol I guess I’m just not very tender-handed (:D But the dough always tastes good… my family loves raw dough! My sister made a crust the other day from all lard… Wow! What a difference. (Didn’t care for her pie, but the crust was great!lol)

  14. Barb, I hear you on the biscuits. I haven’t done a good buttermilk biscuit yet. But I’m still trying.

  15. hip chick says:

    Great idea with the baggie! I can tell you are a man because a woman wouldn’t line her pie with change. I know because I’m a woman and I would have spent that change long ago!

  16. Thank you, Drew; your help is appreciated much! =)

    Cheers!

  17. Mike Stockman says:

    Let me second the request for biscuits. I tried to follow the instructions in Alton Brown’s second cookbook, I’m Only Here for More Food, but his instructions result in an unworkable batter. Or I’m doing it wrong. Either way, didn’t work for me.

    And by the way, I just made a great beef stew based on the How to Cook Everything book; but of course, I’d love to see your take on it, because theirs wasn’t quite right. Just saying. With drop biscuits. If it’s convenient. :-)

  18. Hippie, to tell the truth I needed to borrow it from my girls’ bank. Although in fairness everything in that bank came from my pockets each night as I got home from work.

    Josh, glad I could help.

    Mike, that’s a fine idea. I should probably plan out the next couple of weekends of cooking. And I’ll definitely want stew on the list.

  19. Oh, yeah.
    Now I remember.
    I was the one who “ax” you last time.
    That’s why the question seemed so familiar. LOL
    (A true sign of “geezer-dom”)

  20. Wow, Frank. I’ve heard bananas and fish are supposed to be good for memory. No, not together, I think. (Although that would be an interesting challenge, bananas and fish in the same dish.)

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