Whether it is a celebratory dinner or the holiday season, both call for elaborate dining. And what is a festive feast incomplete without? – That’s right, desserts! But more specifically, pies! So you see, no matter what the occasion is, it is never a bad time to devour some delicious pie! Even, just talking about apple pies and pumpkin pies only is enough to make our mouths water!
While you can easily find frozen pies nowadays, which only needs to be popped into the oven, nothing can ever beat a homemade pie! However, we will most definitely not disagree with the fact that it requires quite a bit of an effort, but the results are undeniably worth it.
Sometimes, the problem is not even the filling, but the pie crust itself! It is one of the most difficult culinary task to master and takes several attempts to get right. However, there is no need to worry because we have just the right recipe for you to make your own perfect pie crust! Just make sure to follow what the recipe says and you will become a pro at making pies in no time!
All Butter Pie Crust
The following are the ingredients you will need to make both the top and bottom crusts:
- 2 sticks or 8 ounces of chilled unsalted butter (diced into ½ inch cubes)
- 2 ½ cups of all-purpose flour, keep some more for rolling the crust
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 6-8 tablespoons of ice water (without ice chunks)
So, the ingredients listed above are all that you will need to make your pie crust. No matter what, remember that the butter needs to be very cold and has to be cut in cubes. This is to ensure that we get the flaky crust that everyone loves!
Also, keep an eye out for the amount of water you put in it. Too much will result in a sticky dough. On the other hand, if the amount of water is too less, then the dough will certainly not come together.
Another thing to keep in mind is that the amount of flour in the pie needs to be precise. This is because if you add too much, the pie dough will become really hard, unlike the usual soft pastry dough.
- Dicing the butter
Your first and foremost task should be to dice your refrigerated butter. For this, you should use the exact amount mentioned above and cut them into ½ inch cubes. This will surely make it easier for you to mix the butter along with the flour mix. Once you have your butter cut up into cubes, put them in the refrigerator once more to ensure that they stay cold.
As mentioned before, there is a reason behind not using warm butter – it will not give you the flaky crust. However, cold butter will help you achieve that flaky crust in your pie because it will create the air pockets when you start baking it. The air pockets are what give the pie crust its flakiness!
- Mixing the flour, sugar and salt
The second step would be to combine your flour, salt and sugar together. Many people tend to do this by hand, but for those using a food processor, the task actually becomes quite simpler. All you need to do is put the three key ingredients into the bowl of the processor, pulsing it a few times until they are completely blended.
- Adding the butter to the mixture
The next step is to incorporate the cold cubes of butter into the flour, salt and sugar mixture. Take the cubed butter out from the refrigerator and divide it into two parts. With the flour mixture already in the processor, pop the first half of the cubes in it. You will be required to pulse it quite a few times before adding the other half of it.
Once you have added the second half, start pulsing the processor once more. When you notice that the butter cubes are of the same size as large peas, stop the machine. At most, you will only need to pulse the processor for about 6 to 8 times in total.
- Adding ice water
Take ¼ cup of chilled, icy water and spritz it into the butter-flour mix. Follow this task by pulsing the processor again. Incorporate more of the ice cold water and pulse the processor every time you add a tablespoon of it. However, keep the recipe in mind and add no more than 6-8 tablespoons of water. Otherwise, you will undoubtedly be risking the crust becoming tough, once it has been baked.
The mixture should look all crumbly and brittle, once it has been done being processed. Now, use your fingers to squeeze a bit of the crumbly dough. If it holds together then you have made yourself the perfect pastry dough!
- Kneading the dough
Once you feel that the dough is ready, transfer all of the crumbly mix onto a flat worktop. Make sure that the worktop is dry and clean. Combine it well and then craft a mound out of it. The next step is to split the dough to form two piles, instead of one. After that, mold the piles separately into disks by kneading with your hands.
Now, it is extremely crucial that you don’t knead the dough way too much. This is because over-kneading matures gluten in the dough and makes it harder in texture. And we are very much aware of the fact that you would never want your pie to have a tough crust. Hence, avoid over-kneading at all costs since you only need to ensure that the dough mix is holding itself together in a disk-like shape. Also, make sure that your dough does not have many cracks in it.
While you form the disks, you should be able to see and feel the little chunks of butter. If a flaky crust is what you want, you want to keep all the cold butter bits as they are in the dough. Once you bake it, the butter will melt giving an amazing aroma along with all the flakiness.
When you have the disks ready, lightly dust them with flour and then move on to wrapping them separately using plastic cling wraps. Place the two in the refrigerator for a whole hour. If you are making the dough ahead of time and do not plan on using it the very day, you can store it in the refrigerator for about 2 days.
- Preparing the dough for rolling it
After an hour of resting in the fridge, the dough is finally ready to be prepared for rolling. However, this is no elaborate step. Just take out any one of the disks and let it rest for 5 to 10 minutes at room temperature. The dough will soften just enough for you to handle and roll it out easily, if you do it right!
- Rolling the dough
After the dough has rested, you will need to roll it into a flat sheet with a thickness of about 1/8 of an inch. But before you transfer the dough on the worktop, dust it lightly with flour. Then start rolling the disk from the center to outwards so that the circular sheet has a diameter of around 12 inches.
It may happen that while you are rolling the disk flat, it is gluing itself to the worktop despite the dusted flour. In such a case, sprinkle a bit more of the flour underneath it and resume your rolling.
- Fitting the dough in the pie plate
When you finally reach the desired shape and thickness of the pastry sheet, place it on a pie plate (9 inches). You can put it directly onto the plate or fold the pastry in half and then open the fold to spread it on the plate. Now, shape up the dough in around ½ inch of the pie dish by means of your regular scissors from the kitchen.
- Filling up the pie
This being the easiest step only requires you to fill up the pie using your preferred filling. Be it sweet, sour or spicy – you can use whichever flavor you want!
- Placing the second disk
For this step, you will need to take out the second disk like you did it before and cautiously put it on filling of the pie. Make sure you have about ¾ inch extra on the sides so that you can make an outline afterward. Cut off the extra using a sharp pair of scissors or any other sharp object that you usually use in your kitchen while cooking.
Now all you need to do is fold up the edges of the bottom disk with the edge of the top disk. You should press the edges firmly while folding them so that they do not come off later on. Groove the edges with the use of a fork or your forefinger and your thumb.
For the last step, make long cuts of about 2 inches into the pie to allow the steam to pass while cooking the pie.
Pre-Baking the Crust
However, if you need to pre-bake your pie crust, make sure to carry out the following instructions:
- Freezing the crust
Just remember that while pre-baking the crust, you will need to follow the guidelines listed above, without the use of the top disk and the filling. So, for the bottom disk, you will need to put it in the refrigerator for 30 minutes. Why is this important? – To prevent the crust from gliding down the edges of the dish. Also, make sure to heat up the oven at 350° F.
- Using aluminum foil
After chilling it for about half an hour, take out the pie dish and cover it up with an aluminum foil. Do this with a couple of extra inches at the edge so that it is easier to remove the weights afterward.
- Add pie weights
For the next step, you will need to fill up the crust with the help of pie weights, which may include sugar, beans or rice. However, please note that sugar works the best in this case.
While baking, you will need to keep track of the time and heat required for your pie. For example, for pies which do not require further baking, it should be baked at 350°F for about 60-70 minutes. But if it calls for further baking, you will need to bake it for only 45-50 minutes max.
The final step is to shelter the edges of your pie with aluminum foil to prevent it from getting burnt or dried out. However, make sure that the crust is absolutely cool before adding the fillings.
Now that you have an overall idea on how to make your pie crust like a pro, you can surely try out other recipes like – ‘an all butter crust with almonds.’ Feel free to browse through the internet or recipe books to enhance more flavors in your pie crust once you have mastered it properly.