Flaky Vs Tender Crusts
The flakiness of a crust is a result of both the fat that you use and how much you work the fat into the flour before adding the water. Because of their higher melting temperature and unique structure, lard and shortening do make very flaky crusts. But you can make an equally flaky crust using all-butter by not over-incorporating the butter into the flour. In this recipe, that means adding the butter in two additions, and cutting it into the flour just until you see pieces no larger than peas. Conversely, if you like a very tender crust, work the butter into the flour until it resembles bread crumbs.
The Myths Behind Flaky Pie Crust
On paper, classic pie dough is a mind-bogglingly simple recipe. Combine flour with a bit of salt and sugar, cut in some butter, lard, and/or shortening, then add just enough cold water to get it to come together into a disk. Roll it out and bake. That’s it.
The underlying difficulty in the technique comes during the first stage of cutting the butter into the flour. Unless you make pie dough day in and day out, it’s close to impossible to accurately cut butter into flour to the same degree on a consistent basis. Don’t cut it in quite enough, and you need to add extra water to absorb the excess dry flour, resulting in the over-formation of gluten, and a tough, leathery crust. On the other hand, cut it in just bit too much, and you end up with way too little dry flour. Rather than having well-structured flaky layers, you end up with a crust that crumbles into sandy pieces, like this:
J. Kenji López-Alt
That is the reason why you sometimes need to add a couple tablespoons of water and other times up to twice as much to get the dough to come togetherit’s got nothing to do with the relative humidity of the air, as many books will have you believe. Indeed, in the short time that it takes to make a pie crust, flour will absorb approximately 0.1% of its weight in water, even in the most humid of environments. That’s a small enough amount to effectively be zero.
J. Kenji López-Alt
How Do You Make Pie Dough In A Food Processor
- Add the dry ingredients to the bowl of your processor and pulse to combine.
- Cut the cold butter into small cubes then add to the dry mixture and pulse until you have pea-sized pieces.
- Drizzle with the ice water in a tablespoon at a time while pulsing until the mixture comes together. Youll know its ready when the dough rises and collapses together as you end a pulse. You can also squeeze a tablespoon or so of the dough in your hand, if its ready the clump will hold together.
- Transfer to pastry mat or plastic and knead together 2-3 times then flatten into a disk, cover in plastic and chill for at least 30 minutes.
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More Easy Pie Recipes
- How to make Blueberry Pie with fresh blueberries, warm spices, lemon, and an easy lattice crust.
- Our Favorite Apple Pie perfectly cooked apples surrounded by a thickened and gently spiced sauce all baked inside a flaky, golden brown crust
- Easy Cherry Pie we cant decide which we prefer, blueberry or cherry pie.
- Strawberry Pie its a little quicker to make and very tasty.
- If time isnt on your side, you may want to try our Handheld Berry Pies!
Recipe updated, originally posted May 2013. Since posting this in 2013, we have tweaked the recipe to be more clear and added a quick recipe video. Adam and Joanne
More Easy Apple Recipes
Simple Apple Tart How to make a stunning apple tart with a buttery crust, thinly sliced apples, and toasted almonds.
Apple Pie Cupcakes A fun and easy apple pie cupcake recipe made with cinnamon roll dough, spiced apples and a crumble topping. How can it go wrong?
Dutch Baby Pancakes with Apples How to make the best tall, fluffy Dutch baby pancakes with tender apples. The perfect breakfast or dessert!
Easy Apple Crisp This apple crisp recipe with oats has sweet tender apples and a crisp and crunchy topping made with flour, oats, brown sugar, butter, and cinnamon.
Baked Cinnamon Apples These cinnamon baked apples are easy enough for tonight, but double as the perfect dessert for friends and family .
Creamy Apple Salad with Celery and Fennel We love this fresh and easy apple salad recipe made with crisp apples, celery, fennel, and an easy creamy dressing.
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How To Cut The Lard Into The Flour
One immediately frustrating aspect of making a pie crust is trying to cut the fat into the flour.
Every recipe for pie crust ever just says to cut it in, with no explanation as to what that actually means!
Cutting the fat into the flour means breaking up the fat into smaller and smaller particle sizes by cutting it, either with a pastry cutter or 2 knives.
As the fat gets smaller, more flour wraps around each individual piece until you end up with a crumbly mixture that should have the texture of slightly wet sand.
This not only makes it really easy to mix the wet ingredients into the fat and flour mixture in the next step, but it also helps disperse the fat evenly throughout the mixture.
This even dispersal of fat makes the baking process a lot easier, as the pie crust will cook more evenly. Even better, the fat will melt all throughout the dough, giving the best texture possible.
How To Make Our Favorite All
Weve been making pie crust the same way in our kitchen for years. We cut butter into flour until the butter and flour look crumbly and have pieces of butter the size of peas. Then, we add just enough water to form the dough into a ball. That was until we found a better way. A homemade pie crust recipe, rather a pie crust method, thats consistent and makes dough thats a dream to roll out.
Its not that our previous method failed us. We just came across another way of how to make it. A while back Cooks Illustrated reworked pie dough.
You may have heard of it they added vodka to their recipe. .
Cooks Illustrated looked at the science behind pie crust and it made sense. Our high school science teachers would be proud.
Heres all you really need to know: Gluten is an enemy to pie crust. Some gluten is okay and actually needed for structure, but too much can really mess things up.
So, remember this: less gluten formation = flakier and more tender pie crusts.
Back to the vodka. Thats what got all the hype why wouldnt it, right? In their recipe, the vodka replaced some of the water.
The theory is that vodka doesnt promote gluten formation, whereas water does. So, by replacing part of the water with vodka, it helps the pie crust become flakier and more tender.
We love the idea and many swear it works, but adding a 1/4 cup of vodka to our homemade pie dough recipe just didnt sit well with us. Its not something we store in our home often and its expensive.
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How Do I Make Gluten
If you are on a gluten-free diet or suffer from a wheat allergy, you will be happy because this pie dough can be easily made gluten-free! Simply replace the regular all-purpose or wheat or spelt flour with a gluten-free flour blend 1:1. However, I recommend adding an extra flax seed egg which helps the dough stick better together. To make a flaxseed egg, simply stir 1 tablespoon of ground flax seeds into 3 tablespoons of hot water. Then set aside for about 5 minutes until it is gelatinous, similar to a regular egg. Alternatively, you could also use 3 tablespoons of applesauce or another egg substitute from a store.
How To Roll Out Pie Crust
After the dough has chilled, start preparing your pie. Roll out the crust. Always use gentle force. You are not mad at the crust. When rolling dough out, always start from the center and work your way out in all directions, turning the dough with your hands as you go.
Turn, roll, turn, roll.
Roll the dough to fit a 9-inch pie dish. I typically roll the dough into a 12-inch circle so that there is enough crust to go up the edges of the dish and so I can trim and flute.
Do NOT be overwhelmed. I made sure to break everything down very easily, so a lot of the text in this recipe is me being as thorough as possible. Be sure to read through additional tips and troubleshooting below. Let me know about your pie adventures!
- Total Time:2 hours, 15 minutes
- Yield:2 pie crusts
- 6 Tablespoons unsalted butter, chilled and cubed
- 3/4 cup vegetable shortening, chilled
- 1/2 cup ice water
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Pie Dough Food Processor
Place the fat, flour and salt in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse 15 times think of the pulse button as a hot potato, said pie expert Kate McDermott, to keep from overmixing. Add 3 tablespoons of the ice water, holding back the ice cubes. Pulse 10 times. Add 3 more tablespoons of water. Pulse 7 times.
How To Make Perfect Homemade Apple Pie
Its taken us a while to zero in on our favorite method for making apple pie, but I think weve finally nailed it. This simple recipe guarantees perfectly cooked apples surrounded with a thick gently spiced sauce. Theres no need for precooking the sauce or apples and the steps to make this pie are simple, you just need a little time.
As with all of the pie recipes on Inspired Taste, we start with this homemade pie crust. Im a stickler on this one. It has never failed us and is our go-to recipe for pumpkin pie, tarts, and other fruit pies like blueberry pie.
You can make the crust in advance. It can be refrigerated or frozen. Definitely check our pie crust recipe for our tips on making it .
As for the apples, we use a lot of them and like to use two or more varieties for the most apple-flavored pie. Ive listed some of our favorites below. It isnt a complete list, but it should give you some inspiration when shopping for your homemade pie. If you find yourself with extra apples, try making homemade applesauce!
We dont precook the apples before adding them to the crust.
Instead, we toss peeled and sliced apples with sugar, salt, and spices in a large bowl. When the apples are well coated, we set the bowl aside and let the apples sit for about an hour.
In this hour, the sugar and salt work on the apples to help them release their delicious liquid . The apples also soften quite a bit. We do this when making apple bread, too.
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Top Tips For Ingredients
Flour: For a tender crust, choose a low-protein flour. Pastry flour, with a protein content of about 8-10%, ranks between all-purpose flour and cake flour. All-purpose flour works just fine for pie crusts, while cake flour might lack enough protein to form a workable, elastic dough.
- Depending upon your tastes and the recipe, you can substitute nut flours or whole wheat pastry flour for part of the mixture.
- If you’re a novice crust-maker, start with a plain all-purpose or pastry flour dough.
Fat: Flaky pie crusts can be made from a variety of fats: butter, lard, shortening, duck fat, vegetable oil, or nut oils.
- Crusts made with all butter are very flavorful, though they are generally not quite as flaky as crusts made with shortening or lard.
- Vegetable shortening pie doughs are easier to work with and hold their shape better than all-butter crusts, but the flavor won’t be as rich.
- Lard produces the flakiest crust, but processed lard can have a chemical aftertaste. Some butchers or farmers’ market stands might sell fresh rendered lard.
- Some of the best pie crusts are made with a combination of fats: half butter, for flavor, and half shortening or lard, for flakiness.
- Fans of crispier crusts use melted butter or oil for the fat, resulting in a mealier dough that bakes up as a fine-textured, crisp crust.
Liquid: Ice water, fruit juices, egg yolks, sour cream, milk or cream add different flavors and textures to your pie crust.
How To Make Easy Vegan Pie Crust
Step 1: Make the short pastry
Start by kneading all ingredients into a smooth dough with your hands. However, you can also use a food processor or a kitchen machine if you have any. Then form it into a flat ball, wrap it tightly in cling film, and chill in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.
Step 2: Put the dough into the pan
After the chill time, roll out the dough between two layers of cling foil or parchment paper or simply on a floured work surface, whichever method is the easiest for you. Then lift the dough into your pan and press it firmly and evenly on the bottom and up the sides. Prick the bottom several times with a fork so that the steam produced during baking can escape, and the base does not rise.
Tip: If the dough has softened again during this time or if you want to continue with your recipe later, put the pie pan back in the fridge to keep it cold.
Step 3: Blind baking
If you want to pre-bake the short pastry, carefully line your prepared pie crust with parchment paper. Then fill it with dry pulses or pie weights. Now place your pan in the preheated oven and bake for 15 minutes or until the edges are lightly golden brown.
Since the covered base often cannot be baked through because of the pie weights. After 15 minutes, carefully remove the baking paper with the pie weights. Then let the crust bake a little longer without the filling, about 10 minutes.
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Easy Pie Dough Recipe
With just a few ingredients and in a few minutes, making your own homemade pie dough is so easy, youll wonder why you never did it before. The buttery, flakey and wonderful flavors you get with homemade pie dough with our easy pie dough recipe cant be beat. Once you make these fresh, its hard to go back to regular refrigerated dough that you buy in stores.
Pie Dough Crimped And Vented
Lay the remaining dough on top of the fruit, making sure that the edges of both dough layers meet. Trim any overhanging dough with kitchen shears or a paring knife, using any extra dough to patch holes or tears. Do you like to crimp the edges with a fork or create a folded ridge? Now is the time. Make a few slashes on the top of the dough to create vents.
Return to the refrigerator for 20 minutes and preheat the oven to 425 F.
Kim O’Donnel’s two-crust pie with apple-rosemary filling.
- Kim O’Donnel
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