The key to a good pie is a good crust. There is no other factor more important. And the truth is, it’s relatively easy to make homemade pie crust–especially with our very thorough (yes, that’s 42 slides you see below) step-by-step guide. All it takes is the right ingredients and a little practice. And once you’ve got the crust mastered, making any filling is easy as, well, pie.
The most important thing to remember is to start with chilled ingredients–you can even keep your flour in the freezer–and to not overwork your dough as it’s coming together. You want to handle the butter and shortening as little as possible, cutting them into the flour with something sharp (here we use a food processor) so they are broken into tiny hard flakes mixed in uniformly, rather than melted and mushed into the flour. When the crust bakes, the melting of these butter pieces between layers of flour creates tiny air pockets that we perceive as delicious flakiness.
- The first step is to prepare all ingredients. Measure out 3 1/2 cups all purpose flour, 1 cup (2 sticks) chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/2″ cubes, 1/4 cup vegetable shortening, 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon sugar, 1 tablespoon kosher salt, and 3/4 cup ice water
- Add flour to a food processor
- Add sugar and salt
- Add chilled cubed butter
- Add chilled vegetable shortening
- Run food processor until mixture resembles tiny pebbles (like above), about 25 seconds
- Gradually add ice water to processor until mixture begins to clump together. NOTE: not all 3/4 cup might be necessary. Take care not to over-moisten your dough. Watch the dough and stop adding liquid once it begins to clump. It doesn’t need to be completely stuck together, as you’ll see in the next few slides.
- Prepare a clean counter top as workspace to form and roll out dough
- Dump out dough from food processor
- If you need to scrape down sides of the work bowl, use a spatula. You want to handle the dough as little as possible
- Dump out any remaining pieces onto pile
- Gather the dough
- Form dough into a ball
- Shape as round and even a ball as possible, but don’t be a perfectionist about cracks, which may cause you to overwork the dough
- Cut the dough in equal halves
- Separate halves
- Form one half into ball; set aside
- Form other half into ball
- Gently flatten one half into a thick disk, about 1″ thick
- Do the same to the other half. Wrap both halves in plastic wrap and chill in refrigerator at least 1 hour or over night. To freeze for future use, wrap tightly in plastic then put in a plastic bag and store up to two months.
- When you’re ready to roll out the dough, remove from the refrigerator and discard plastic wrap
- Lightly flour a clean work surface and a rolling pin and begin to roll out dough
- If cracks begin to form, this is totally normal, just pinch the dough back together
- Continue to roll out dough, using even pressure
- Make sure to keep uniform thickness
- Rotate disk to roll in other direction and to ensure that it’s not sticking to the counter
- Roll dough out into a round shape
- Your dough should be 2 to 3 inches bigger in circumference than your pie plate.
- Carefully pick up the edge of your round and loosely wrap dough around rolling pin
- The pin helps center the dough over the filling.
- Transfer dough to pie plate
- Gently unroll the dough over plate
- With your fingers, gently begin to press dough into bottom of plate
- Go around the complete circumference of the plate
- Trim any excess dough with kitchen shears. If you are using a top crust, cut closer to the plate, leaving less dough hanging than is pictured above. If you are only using a bottom crust (as pictured) leave about 1″ of dough overhang.
- If you are using only a bottom crust, begin to tuck the overhanging dough under to form the edge of the crust. If you are making a double-crust pie, fill the pie and top with second crust the same way as first–using the rolling pin to pick up and place the dough.
- To crimp your crust, pinch with your thumb and index finger on one side and press with your other index finger on the other side. You’d crimp dough the same way with a top and bottom crust, just pinch the two doughs together and crimp.
- Do this evenly around the whole plate
- For a crust that is blind baked (pre-baked before a filling is added), line crust with foil or parchment paper. Fill with dried beans or pie weights.
- Bake 25 minutes in a 375-degree oven. Remove from oven; lift out foil and weights. Reduce oven to 350-degrees. Return crust to oven and bake, using fork to prick any bubbles that have formed and pressing down on them with back of fork, until crust is light and golden brown, 20-25 minutes longer. Let crust cool completely.
To top with a lattice crust, follow our step-by-step instructions here on How to Make a Lattice Crust.
Slideshow photos by Maxime Iattoni