November 7, 2011

Perfect Holiday Pie Crust

Confession: We LOVE pie crust in our family... flaky, buttery, lovely pie crust. And while we all have opinions about what is best IN the pie crust we all agree on the pie crust itself.

Since I talked about getting pie crust ready early for Thanksgiving here is our favorite pie crust recipe to share with you all.

This is our beloved cookbook that taught me and my daughters how to make beautiful pie crust without having to include shortening. As you can see, it is a VERY used page in a very used cookbook. What I wanted to point out is that the trick to pie crust is not so much in the ingredient list...a humble 5 ingredients... but in how you handle those ingredients. As hinted at in the fact that the recipe, though only 5 ingredients, is an entire page long. But WAIT, don't run off in fear. It only looks complicated...I made 6 pie crusts in a half hour this evening...truly simple. So let's get to it!

First, credit where credit is due. This recipe is from How to Cook Everything by Mark Bittman.

2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp salt
2 tsp sugar
2 sticks COLD unsalted butter
ice cold water

Measure flour into a food processor bowl fitted with an S blade. 2 1/2 cups flour equal 12 1/2 oz on a scale.
Add in the salt and the sugar and pulse a couple of times to mix.

Slice the cold butter and add to the food processor. Process for 10 to 15 seconds until the flour resembles cornmeal.

Measure 6 to 10 tablespoons of ice cold water into the flour mixture. This is the only place I deviate from the recipe. The recipe says 6 tablespoons but I can never get the flour to ball together with less than 10. I have no idea why. 
Stir with a fork until the dough balls together. Pick up the dough with your hands and finish pressing it lightly into a ball. Then tear the ball into two equal pieces. 

Wrap each ball in plastic wrap, flattening it down into a disc, and then again in aluminum foil to freeze them for later. Mark Bittman says it freezes almost indefinitely.

When you are ready to bake your pies take the dough discs out of the freezer and defrost in the refrigerator. Do NOT bring the dough to room temperature. While it is still cold roll out the first disc on a well floured surface and lay in your pie plate. For a double crust fill the pie and then get the second crust out of the refrigerator and roll it out. After you have the pie put together return the pie to the refrigerator for at least 10 minutes before baking. The key to a perfect pie crust is keeping the dough cold. 

Happy pie baking. I would love to hear back from anyone who gives this a try about how it turned out. 


  1. I am so excited to see that you made 6 crusts, I can't wait to eat some. :-D

  2. Mmm, this is such a good recipe. Sometimes I add an extra tsp of sugar to the crust if I know I have a tart filling going into it.

    And I still have the same problem with the water over here! It always takes me about 9-10 tbsps to get it to ball up. So weird. You'd think that in your moist climate it would take less water, and in my dry climate it would take more...

    Good post, Mom! :)