perfect pie crust + tips

Pie crust from scratch. It’s an intimidating thing. If we’re being honest here, I’m a bit of a pie snob – I grew up in a house where pre-made crust was not a thing.

I’ve had lots of practice making good + bad crust. That’s a good thing for you because it means you get all the tips + tricks without having to experience the many less-than-perfect batches I went through before finding the right method/formula/magical solution. 

Plus, people will be impressed when you tell them you made the crust. from. scratch. 

Win-Win.

The most important thing with pie crust is getting the texture of the dough right – by adding more water to keep the dough from getting too dry and crumbly (thus, becoming unworkable) OR by adding more flour to keep it from getting too wet and sticky.

You know this situation – it’s one in which you look down in the bowl, wonder where all the dough went, and realize that it has attached itself to every single square inch of your hands.

The worst. 

(Yep – this is the blue bowl for which the blog is named. I do pretty much alllll my baking in my two blue bowls. In case you were wondering.)

Oh, if you wear a ring, TAKE IT OFF while making this. You will thank me later. And your ring with all it’s tiny crevices will thank you. I forgot to take my wedding ring off to make pie crust the other day. A visit to the jeweler to have it cleaned was inevitable, but this pie crust is so good that it’s worth it. It’s beautifully flaky, comes together in a pinch, and serves as the perfect base for oh-so-many treats!



Recipe:

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 16 tablespoons butter (2 sticks)
  • 2 TBS shortening 
  • About 9 TBS cold water
  • 3/4 tsp salt

Measure flour and salt into a mixing bowl. Whisk together. Next, take the 2 sticks of butter out of the fridge (it’s important that the butter is COLD for the pie crust to turn out). Unwrap and cut into chunks. Add to the flour mixture. (I used Kerrygold butter – it has a richer color than any other butter I’ve used, but you can use any brand.)

Next, add the 2 tablespoons of shortening (I don’t keep my shortening in the fridge so don’t worry about trying to chill it).

Use a pastry blender on the mixture until you have a mix of fine crumbs + chunks, like in the photo below. 

 If you don’t have a pastry blender (although you should because they’re amazing) you can use two knives or a food processor (if yours is large enough). 

Next, add the COLD water, 1-2 tablespoons at a time. Gently stir the mixture with a fork/your hands a few times in between each addition of water. Stop adding water when the mixture starts to form a ball that sticks together but isn’t overly sticky. (Sometimes it’s hard to get the crumbs in the bottom of the bowl wet so make sure to mix well when adding the water).

The photo below shows what the texture of the dough will be like after adding the water and lightly hand-mixing it, but before shaping it into two balls. (With this amount of dough, shaping it into two balls is preferable because it’s too much dough to roll out all at once.)

If the dough is too sticky or too dry, add more flour or water until you have the right texture. Form the dough gently into two balls. 

Roll the dough out on a lightly floured surface. I use a pastry cloth because it’s the easiest thing to roll dough out on. The one I have (Amazon, best $6 I ever spent) came with this funny little sleeve for my rolling pin – it magically keeps the dough from sticking to the rolling pin. If you don’t have a sleeve, keep flouring the rolling pin to keep the dough from sticking. 

 

Roll the ball out a little way, then flip it over and roll in the other direction. You can do this once or twice BUT the secret to good pie crust is not overworking the dough. Keep flouring your work surface in between flipping the dough over – even if you have a pastry cloth.

I’ve never actually measured, but 1/4 inch is the recommended thickness when rolling out your pie dough. If you can’t move or lift the dough without it easily tearing it’s been rolled to thin. (Not to worry – just fold it in half and roll it out a bit less this time.)

If you’re cutting shapes out of your pie dough, like I do for my hand pies, using a cookie flipper can help to lift the shapes off of your work surface so they don’t get torn when you try to pick them up with your hands. 

When baking any type of pie, it’s always a good idea to rotate it about halfway through baking to help prevent the crust from burning. 

Wondering what to make now that you’re a pie crust expert? Check out these cherry hand pies

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