Welcome to pie crust 101. Today, we are going to learn the art of the pie crust – and it is probably waaaaaaaay easier than you think! I know turkey is kind of the must-have item for Thanksgiving, but is it really? I mean, aren’t pecan and pumpkin pie
just as important as more important than the turkey?
They are. They really are.
So today on Braised in a Kitchen it is pie day. This is pie crust 101, and I also posted recipes for pecan pie and pumpkin pie. But, this pie crust can be used for any pie that calls for a single or double crust.
If you are a little nervous about pie crusts because baking can be so precise and that makes you a bit skittish – don’t be. Yes, baking a cake or cookies usually requires precise ingredients and measurements. But, pie crusts are different. Pie crusts are homey, down-to-earth, and very forgiving. They are a little messy – but I find that mess and creativity and chaos inviting in the art of a pie crust.
Everything you need to know about making pie crusts:
So for pie crust 101 I want to tell you everything you need to know and do to get a perfect, flaky, melt in your mouth crust every time!
- Start with cold ingredients. Like ice cold. The colder the better. I usually keep a bag of flour in my freezer whose sole purpose is to be turned into delicious pie crusts. I chill my shortening and use butter straight from the fridge to make the crusts.
2. Mix the ingredients together by hand. I know. I know! I love my food processor too. I really do. But if you use a food processor to mix the fat into the flour you don’t get a good idea of how the ingredients are mixing in together. There should be some small clumps of fat + dough, some medium clumps, and even a few large clumps (no bigger than an almond). There should also be some flour that is not mixed in and some fat that is not mixed in. If you use a food processor you can’t judge how things are mixing. Use a pastry cutter instead.
3. Like I said above – you want to cut in the butter and shortening until its blended, but not overly blended. There should be some pieces of flour and fat that aren’t mixed in at all (not more than 5%) and there should be a variety in the size clumps of fat + flour that are formed. Remember – this is a messy, creative process and uniformity is not what we are shooting for here.
4. Mix in as much ice cold water with a fork as you can and then fold/knead the rest in with cold fingers. Run your hands under a cold water tap for a few seconds to get them a little frosty. Cold is key.
5. Making pie crust is an art and it takes time. Once you get the crust mixed together, wrap it in plastic wrap and refrigerate it for an hour. You can refrigerate it up to overnight if you must but I have found that for rolling it out while still getting a super flakey crust an hour is the maximum time (otherwise it becomes hard to roll out).
6. Rolling out pie dough might seem scary – but it doesn’t have to be. Remember, you and pie crust are in this together. Sprinkle your surface generously with flour, sprinkle more flour on top of your crust dough, flour up your hands like a gymnast, and flour your rolling pin. Flour is your friend. Then, gently but firmly roll out the dough. Always roll your crust bigger than your pie pan.
7. Once you’ve got your dough rolled out, lightly flour the top surface again and then roll it in on itself – just like the rolled up pie crusts you buy at the store in a can. This will help you transfer it seamlessly from surface to pan without any rips. Gently unroll it in your pie pan and arrange it to fit. Use a pairing knife to cut off the excess crust that is hanging over the edge of the pie plate.
8. If there is time and the recipe allows for it, I like to fill and refrigerate my pie again prior to baking it – usually for several hours this time. I cover it with plastic wrap to ensure it won’t dry out and then pop it straight from the fridge in to the oven. If there’s not time and/or the recipe won’t allow for that, no worries. You will still have a pie crust that will knock everyone’s socks off! 🧦🧦
Pie Crust 101
- 2 1/2 c COLD flour
- 1 t salt
- 1/2 c COLD butter
- 1/2 c COLD vegetable shortening
- 1/2 c COLD ice water
Washes and Glazes
- egg white + water shine
- egg yolk + water golden color
- full egg + water rich color
To Make the Dough
- Whisk together the flour and salt (I usually use a plain old kitchen fork for this).
- Don't take your butter and shortening out of the fridge until right before you're about to use them. Using a knife, slice the butter up into rough tablespoon slices – no need to be exact here.
- Using a pastry cutter, cut the butter and shortening in to the flour. Once all the fat pieces are cut down fairly small and you have lots of fat + flour clumps you are done. You should have:1. Mostly fat + flour clumps of various sizes (tiny, small, medium, and no larger than an almond)2. A little bit of flour and fat that is not mixed together, BUT the fat should still be cut down to about half an almond sizeRemember, this is not an exact science.
- Add your water, 1 T at a time and mix in with the fork. Once it becomes difficult to mix in the water with your fork, run your hands under a cold tap and then mix in any remaining water you need with your cold hands. I usually use between 6 to 8 T of water. You want to add enough water that a ball of dough forms and does not look dry – but not so much water that it looks overly wet.
- Wrap your dough tighlty in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour. You can refrigerate up to 24 hours, but the longer the dough sits in the fridge the harder and more crumbly it will be when you go to roll it out.
To Roll the Dough
- Ok. Deep breath. You can do it.
- Sprinkle your work surface generously (about 1/4 c) with flour. Remove the dough from the fridge. Cut in half (if making 2 crusts – for 1 large 9×13 pot pie/cobbler crust use all the dough) and place half on top of the floured workspace. Re-wrap the other half and return it to the fridge. Flour your hands and your rolling pin.
- Gently but firmly roll the dough out with your floured rolling pin, adding more flour as needed to prevent sticking. Flip the dough over after a couple of rolls and re-flour the bottom if needed. If your dough is tearing you may need more flour on the worksurface or you rolling pin (or both). Roll your dough out about 1/2" to 1" wider than you need for your pan (for a 9" pan roll the dough out to a 9 1/2" or 10" circle).
- Sprinkle a tiny bit of flour on top of the dough and then starting on one side, gently roll it up like a scroll. Make sure you pie pan is right next to you and gently lift and move the rolled up dough over to the pie pan.
- Starting on one side, gently unroll the dough. Tug and gently lift it until it fills the pie pan. Gently push the sides down so that the dough sits snuggly in the pan. Using a sharp pairing knife cut the excess dough off the side of the pan.If you want to add decorations use small cookie cutters to cut shapes out of the excess dough. You can also cut three long strands and braid them together.
- At this point you will pick up your recipe and follow its directions.If you need to pre-cook your pie crust, make sure to lightly prick it with a fork and add pie weights. If at all possible, add your filling, cover your pie lightly with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 1 hour prior to baking. Move pie straight from the fridge to the oven. This will really help the crust be super flaky. Enjoy!
Pie crust 101? ✅ Now I just need to find Chocolate and Wine Tasting 202…
Share below: Are you a confident pie maker? What is your favorite Thanksgiving dessert?
If you follow the instructions in Pie Crust 101…
Please share your results – leave a comment below and post a photo on Instagram with #braisedinakitch for a chance to be featured in my Instagram stories!