How to make the best pie crust in the world

I use Smitten Kitchen’s measurements almost exactly, so I can’t take credit for the chemistry behind it. The method, though, I provide from my own wisdom bestowed upon me by my best friend, Karly and her infinite pie wisdom. I almost always double the recipe and make four pie crusts, for storing later, but this makes two (or one for the bottom, and one for the top of the pie).

2 c. all-purpose flour
1/2 c. whole wheat flour
1/4 c. sugar
1 t. (5 grams) table salt
A big ol’ dash of cinnamon
2 sticks sweet cream butter, cubed and very cold!!! (you can use regular if you really want to)
1-2-3/4 c. ice water
1/2 t. love

1. Combine all ingredients except for the butter, which you should cube and put BACK INTO the refrigerator. Everyone says you need cold ingredients for pie crust and they are all right. Something that I’ve picked up from the Barefoot Contessa (blesshersoul) is putting even the bowl of dry ingredients in the freezer for 15 minutes or so. Seems tedious, but you can see the difference, especially if you’re doing this on a hot day. With everything chilled, you can put the butter cubes on top of the flour, like this.

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2. Don’t listen to anyone else. You don’t need/want a food processor for pie crust. Your god-given hands were made to do this kind of work with a pastry cutter or even better yet, two butter knives. The manual meticulousness of this cutting method will provide you with the visibility you need to get this right, and also food processors tend to not only overprocess the dough, but heat it up. You DONT WANT your dough warm at all. And here’s one thing more that processors are missing out on, that your hands add: Love.

With the pastry blender, slowly start to cut the butter into the mixture, scooping it up from the bottom when you inevitably smoosh a giant butter mass into the bottom of the bowl. Your instincts will tell you that all the butter pieces need to be even and that all flour should be touching butter. You’re wrong. So long as there are no pieces bigger than pea-size, your butter will be fine when uneven and unsettlingly chunky.

If you’re using the two knives, criss-cross them over the butter to divy up the pieces, being careful not to leave any bigger chunks.

photo-3

this isn’t completely done; more chunks are at the bottom of the bowl.

3. Next comes the tricky part. With a wooden spoon or spatula, slowly turn the dough while adding 1/2 c. ice water one tablespoon at a time. Again, this is where the love comes in. If you love the crust, be patient with it. In order to get this step done a little quicker, it’d be nice to ask a friend to help you pour the water. Go about it counterintuitively. You want to toss the dough softly over rather that roughly moosh it, because pressuring and condensing will put lumps and chewiness where you don’t want it. The goal of your crust is to be flaky—light. So you have to treat the dough lightly. Avoid all temptation to use your hands, so as not to warm the dough.

By the time you’ve added the 1/2 c. water and combined it into the dough, you’ll have some sticky pieces, getting kinda stringy, kinda lumpy. You know.

photo-4

Your dough is getting there. Once it’s reached this point, you should fold  together until it just barely comes together. This means that there will still be butter chunks, y’all. Don’t be afraid. It’s all a part of the plan. Divide the dough in half, or if you doubled it, like me, divide the dough in fourths, and wrap up in the fridge in flat circles. Don’t worry about pieces falling out right now. They will conglomerate together when you roll the dough out.

See how it still has the chunks?

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Pretty soon, you could have a beautiful lattice crust like this one. Check out my tutorial!

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One thought on “How to make the best pie crust in the world

  1. Pingback: Blueberry Lemon Basil Pie | Soups & Roots & Rants

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