How to Make the Perfect Pie Crust

How to Make the Perfect Pie Crust

Are you pie-crust challenged? Better call Paul. Sun Basket’s Paul Conte has been baking professionally for more than 20 years and has made a few pie crusts in his day. In this recipe, he shares some of the most helpful tips that he’s learned over the years. 

  • Make sure that everything, especially the butter and the water, is very cold. If the butter softens it loses its ability to form flakes. You want those flakes. Freezing the butter for 10 minutes before you begin can help prevent it from warming. 
  • Dissolve the salt in the water to make sure that it’s distributed evenly throughout the dough. 
  • Use a combination of all-purpose and pastry flours to help make the dough both tender and easy to handle. (You can also use only all-purpose flour, but the lower-protein pastry flour gives the dough a little extra tenderness.)
  • Incorporate the butter with a technique called fraisage by smearing the cold butter into the flour using a rolling pin to form long sheets of dough that cook into a flaky crust. 
  • Freezing the pie crust in Step 3 will yield the best crust without changing the baking time. Make sure you freeze it all the way through and you crust will not only shrink less while baking, but the butter will melt slower, making the crust flakier.

Note: You should have enough dough left over to make another small pie, a few tarts, or roll a top layer. This pie crust is perfect for just about any pie filling. The pre-bake time for the crust varies, depending on the bake time required for the filling. For example, cream fillings require a longer pre-bake time than fruit fillings.

The Perfect Pie Crust Recipe

Makes two 8-to 9-inch pie crusts 
Each pie serves 8

Ingredients
¾ teaspoon kosher salt
½ cup water 
½ pound chilled unsalted butter, preferably cultured, such as Plugra 
1⅓ cups all-purpose flour 
1⅓ cups pastry flour or all-purpose flour
2 cups rice or dried beans, for weighing down the dough

Tools
Rolling pin, scraper, optional, medium pie pan (8 or 9 inches), plastic wrap

Instructions

1 Prep the ingredients

  • Dissolve the salt in the water and place in the freezer until well chilled, 10 to 15 minutes. 
  • Cut the butter into 1-inch cubes. 

2 Make the pie dough
Set the flour in a mound a work surface. Scatter the butter cubes over the flour and toss gently to coat the butter with flour. 

With a rolling pin, flatten the butter into the flour, smearing it away from you. Gather the flour-butter mixture together and continue rolling the butter into the flour until the butter forms dime-size flakes, about two to three more times.  

Make a well in the center of the flour-butter mixture. Gradually sprinkle the salted water into the well, mixing with your hands and scoop the mixture on the outsides into the center, just until the dough comes together. Do not overmix.

Shape the dough into 2 equal discs. Wrap each disc in plastic wrap, and refrigerate until chilled, at least 1 hour and up to overnight. 

 

3 Roll out the pie dough
Sprinkle a work surface with flour. Working with one disc at a time, and using a rolling pin, roll out the dough to form a round about 13 inches in diameter and ¼-inch thick. Carefully fold the round into quarters and transfer to the pie pan. Unfold the round and gently press it into the sides and bottom of the pan without stretching. Trim the excess dough. With a fork, prick the bottom and sides of the pie shell. Wrap the pie shell in plastic wrap and return to the freezer for at least 30 minutes and up to overnight. 

If making 2 open-faced pies, repeat Step 3 with the remaining disc. If making a traditional double-crust pie, keep the 2nd disc refrigerated while you bake the first disc in Step 4, then repeat Step 3 with the remaining disc, transferring the round to a sheet pan instead of a pie pan to chill. 

4 Bake the pie crust
Heat the oven to 350ºF.

Line the pie shell with foil and fill the foil with rice or dried beans to weigh down the crust. Bake until the crust is golden brown, 20 to 25 minutes. 

Carefully remove the foil and rice or beans and let the crust cool completely; then fill with your favorite filling and bake your pie. 

 

If making a double-crust pie, fill the baked shell with the filling of your choice and top with the chilled dough round. Trim off any excess. Cut vents in the top and bake your pie. 

 

Nutrition per serving: 360 calories Protein: 5g (10% DV), Fiber: 1g (4% DV), Total Fat: 24g (37% DV), Monounsaturated Fat: 7g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g, Saturated Fat: 14g (70% DV), Cholesterol: 60mg (20% DV), Sodium: 190mg (8% DV), Carbohydrates: 33g (11% DV), Total Sugars: 0g, Added Sugars: 0g (0% DV). Not a significant source of trans fat.

 

Bonus recipe—ingredients not included in box.

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