How to Make Perfect Pie Crust

Sep 25, 2011 by     7 Comments    Posted under: Cooking 101, Other Recipes, Recipes

Pie.  It’s such a simple dessert.  One which has stood the test of time for centuries.  One which incites memories of childhood and feelings of comfort for nearly everyone of American or European decent.  Pie is a tradition that is to be honored and passed through the generations for many centuries to come, just like it has in the past.

Pies can be sweet, savory, and anything in between.  The fillings you choose are up to you, and are what everyone raves about in the end.  But what makes a pie really a pie is the flaky crust it sits in.  I have decided that a terrific crust can make a mediocre filling still a good pie.  Adversely, I’ve also found that a horrible crust will completely ruin a pie, no matter how delectable the filling is.  So it is with great concern that I teach you how to make a perfect pie crust.

There are many varieties of crusts out there.  And just as many theories of what makes them good.  Some call for vinegar or other crazy things like vodka.  Some like to use shortening, while others stick with butter.

Today I’m going to teach you the pie crust taught to me by my mother, who learned it from my grandfather on my dad’s side.  Grandpa was a baker his entire life.  He owned several bakeries and provided for his large family with them.  He taught the trade to my father, who worked with him at the bakery.  When my dad and mom married, she joined him in the bakery, and they later had a couple bakeries of their own.  Thousands and thousands of pies were made using this simple recipe, and thousands more happy customers sought out these pies for many years.

Shortening was always used in the bakeries, and is still what my mother uses today.  Shortening makes a very flaky crusty due to the way the hydrogenated oils combine with flour when baking, and is what most commercial pie crusts are made with.  I, however, am not a big fan of the hydrogenated oils in it, and prefer to use butter whenever possible.  The butter also gives the crust a nice buttery flavor.  Butter still results in a flaky crust, but does result in a slightly different texture, though it is hard to explain the difference.  You can use either you like, and perhaps a perfect choice would be to use half and half.  I like butter, mom likes shortening.  I leave it up to you to decide for yourself.

Perfect Pie Crust Recipe

  • Half as much butter/shortening as flour
  • Half as much cold water as butter/shortening
  • Pinch of salt

Did you get that?  All you have to do is remember half.  This formula works no mater the size of pie dough batch you are making.  So how much flour do you start with then?

For 1 single crust:

  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup butter/shortening
  • 1/4 cup very cold water
  • pinch of salt

For a double crust pie:

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 cup butter/shortening
  • 1/2 cup very cold water
  • heavy pinch of salt

Isn’t that simple?  If you think it sounds too simple to be perfect, you’ll just have to make it and see for yourself.  The Bald Gourmet does not lie about such sacred things as pie.

Technique for Making Perfect Pie Crust

Now that you know the recipe, we need to discuss the technique of putting it all together.  You can’t expect to just throw it all in a bowl, mix it together, and have a wonderful flaky crust.  Pie crust takes love, tenderness, and care.  But is ridiculously easy to make.  Just follow these steps for a pie crust that will make you famous:

1). Place flour and pinch of salt in a mixing bowl

Place Flour and Salt in Mixing Bowl

Place Flour and Salt in Mixing Bowl

2). Cube cold butter/shortening and then add to the flour

Quarter Cold Butter

Quarter Cold Butter

Dice Cold Butter

Dice Cold Butter

3). Add butter/shortening to flour and cut into flour with a pastry cutter.  If you do not have a pastry cutter, use a fork (is works just as well if not better)

Add Cubed Butter to Flour

Add Cubed Butter to Flour

Cut Butter into Flour with Pastry Cutter to Make Pie Crust

Cut Butter into Flour with Pastry Cutter to Make Pie Crust

4). Continue cutting butter/shortening into flour until a grainy sand-like texture is achieved

Cut Butter into Flour to Get Sand Consistency to Make Pie Crust

Cut Butter into Flour to Get Sand Consistency to Make Pie Crust

5). Add ice cold water to the flour and butter/shortening mixture

Add Cold Water to Flour and Butter to Make Pie Crust

Add Cold Water to Flour and Butter to Make Pie Crust

6). Using your fingers, gently fold water into the flour and butter/shortening mixture until just combined.  It is important that you don’t mix and work the dough, otherwise the crust will turn out tough.  Rather, just gently toss the ingredients together until they just hold together into a loose ball or cake.  Kind of like you were making biscuits.

Gently Fold Pie Dough Together With Fingers Until Just Combined

Gently Fold Pie Dough Together With Fingers Until Just Combined

Pie Dough Brought Together

Pie Dough Brought Together

Pie Dough Ready to Wrap and Cool

Pie Dough Ready to Wrap and Cool

7). Remove dough from bowl and cover completely with plastic wrap.  Place in the refrigerator for 20 minutes or more.  This allows the dough to rest and the butter/shortening to chill.  This will make rolling easier and will result in a flakier crust.

Wrap Pie Dough in Plastic Wrap and Refrigerate for 20 Minutes

Wrap Pie Dough in Plastic Wrap and Refrigerate for 20 Minutes

8). Place dough on a floured surface or onto more plastic wrap.  Roll out with a rolling pin into a circle about 1 inch larger than your pie pan.

Roll Out Pie Dough with Rolling Pin to Make Pie Crust

Roll Out Pie Dough with Rolling Pin to Make Pie Crust

Roll Out Pie Dough to the Size of your Pie Pan

Roll Out Pie Dough to the Size of your Pie Pan

9). Roll up onto your rolling pin (if on floured surface), or lift plastic wrap to place dough into pie pan and fold the edges in on themselves.

Place Pie Dough in Pie Pan and Fold in Edges

Place Pie Dough in Pie Pan and Fold in Edges

10). Flute the edges by pressing your index finger to your thumb (in both hands) around the folded edge, then squeeze your hands together to form the fluted edge as shown here.

Make Fluted Pie Crust Edges Before Filling the Pie

Make Fluted Pie Crust Edges Before Filling the Pie

Pie Crust Ready to Fill and Bake

Pie Crust Ready to Fill and Bake

11). Bake with pie weights/beans if filling with a cream pie later, or fill now with your favorite pie filling to bake together according to your pie recipe instructions.

Sponsored post: Thinking about opening a bakery?  Consider investing in bakery cases and commercial refrigeration to maintain the baked goods and ingredients as fresh as possible.

The Bald Gourmet teaches time-honored recipes passed down from his forefathers, like Perfect Pie Crust.

 

7 Comments + Add Comment

  • Searching for recipe to make 50 butter/shortening pie crust (mostly fruit pies). I want to sell them at local farmers market. In our area we had Marie Callandars; however, they went out of business. I know nothing about baking. I want to start this for my daughter. I don’t know where your located but I could send her anywhere in U.S. to learn the trade. She has already gone Cordon Blue Culinary school.

    • Thanks Don. If you and your daughter follow my detailed directions, you should get a delicious pie crust. Give it a try and let me know how it goes. Best of luck on the pie business!

  • what temp and how long do i bake the crust for?

    • I would recommend following the recipe of the pie you’re making, such as my dessert pies or my savory main course pies in my recipe section. However, if just making the crust to fill with a cream or a pudding, you will want to bake the crust at 375 for about 20 minutes. Ovens vary, so check it at 15 minutes and then keep a close eye on it until it starts to turn a nice golden brown. You’ll want to put some pie weights on the crust though so that it doesn’t bubble up. You can buy expensive ones at places like Williams Sonoma, but I just use beans for mine. Just make sure to keep them in their own little bag so that you don’t mistakenly cook them later (they will not be a tasty treat after being baked in the oven dry).

  • Okay, Jothan. Here goes!! I’m trying your pie crust. If I have problems, I’ll call you…haha. It’s 3:30 here. Love You. I enjoy your site a lot.

  • Just got done making a triple batch. Yum! Thanks Jothan.

  • Jothan thank you so much for making simple to remember.

    I tried the recipe and agree with you… it is quite simple
    … the secret is in the Love.

    thanks again
    Daisy Raisler

I love hearing from my readers, so please go ahead and leave a comment!


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The Bald Gourmet Mug

I'm Jothan Yeager and I am The Bald Gourmet. After years of experimenting in my kitchen, creating delicious food and eating at amazing places around the world, I wanted a place to share my experiences with everyone. Thus the Bald Gourmet was born. I hope to open the doors of great food and great cooking to you, to inspire you to reach beyond prepared boxed meals, and to teach you of a world of deliciousness that has brought joy to me and those around me. Please enjoy the adventure which is The Bald Gourmet and share it with those you love.