Weekend Challenge: Flaky Pie Crust

5 May

What a busy week I’ve had with book signings, TV appearances, and my new cooking show. I’m also in the midst of redecorating my home and restoring antique furniture. I can hardly keep up with my daily spa visits and marathon training.

If this sounds nothing like you, then make this pie crust.

I may not be superwoman, a celebrity, or a do-it-all-yourselfer, but I can make my own pie crust, and that makes up for the rest, I think. Don’t you?

This here pie crust is classically flaky. I recommend making the double crust recipe every time. Then even if you just need one pie crust, you can freeze the other one until you’re ready to use it (with much less work).

Cut your cold butter and shortening into your flour mixture.

Toss around the ice water until large, moist clumps form.

Firmly shape into a round ball.

Flatten the ball and begin rolling, one-quarter turn at a time.

Keep rolling and turning.

And rolling and turning until the dough has a 12-inch diameter. It’s OK if there are rough edges.

Press the dough into the pan, and fold the overhanging dough into the sides to form the crust.

Adapted from Comfort Food

Ingredients for a single-crust 9-inch pie

1 1/4 c. all-purpose flour
1 T. sugar (optional for dessert recipe)
1/4 t. fine sea salt
5 T. unsalted butter, chilled
2 T. shortening, chilled
1/4 to 1/2 c. ice water
1/4 t. vinegar

Ingredients for a double-crust 9-inch pie

2 1/2 c. all-purpose flour
2 T. sugar (optional for dessert recipe)
1/2 t. fine sea salt
1/2 c. plus 2 T. unsalted butter, chilled
3 T. shortening, chilled
1/2 to 3/4 c. ice water
1/2 t. vinegar


Combine the flour, sugar (if using), and salt in a mixing bowl and toss together. Cut the cold butter and shortening into chunks and scatter over flour mixture. With 2 knives or a pastry blender, blend the ingredients together, working quickly, until the mixture forms large, course crumbs the size of peas. Drizzle on the ice water, 1 T. at a time, tossing gently with a fork after each addition. Add just enough water for the dough to form moist clumps. Drizzle in the vinegar. If the dough is too crumbly and dry, add more ice water. With floured hands, squeeze and shape the dough into a smooth ball (or into 2 balls if you are making a double-crust pie).

Wrap the dough in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before rolling out. Or, overwrap the dough with aluminum foil and freeze for up to 1 month, then thaw in the refrigerator before using.

Remove the chilled dough from the refrigerator, and place on a generously floured surface. Dust the top with flour. Flatten the dough firmly with your hands. With a rolling pin, give the dough a few rolls, then turn the dough one-quarter of a turn. Continue rolling and turning the dough until the round is approximately 12 inches in diameter and 1/8-inch thick. If it starts getting tricky to keep turning the dough, add more flour. Roll the dough up over the rolling pin, and unroll over a 9-inch pie plate or tart pan. Fold the overhanging dough over and into the pan, pressing it firmly against the dough on the sides of the pan.

Line the dough with a piece of aluminum foil and freeze for 30 minutes. The dough is now ready to use.

Baker’s note: It’s OK if your dough tears a few times when you’re fitting it into the pan. Just patch it up with extra dough, and it’s good as new.

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