Happy November! November 1st means one thing and one thing only to me: Pie season is in full swing.
In observation of the beginning of the best food season of the year, here is my all-purpose pie crust recipe. Whether I'm making quiche, chicken pot pie, pumpkin pie, blueberry pie, apple pie, etc., I'm making this crust.
When it comes to pie crust, I used to be a butter-or-bust type of gal. (I even wrote about it here).
But times have changed. Life got busy. I had a baby and moved and all-butter-snobbery took a back seat to pie dough that was easy to work with and produced a reliably flaky crust every time.
What I’m telling you is that my pie crust is now half shortening, half butter.
And it is SO MUCH BETTER.
I love the taste of an all-butter crust, but found it didn’t give me quite the flaky crunch I look for in a good crust.
So, I got off my shortening-is-poison high horse and bought myself a canister.
I’m never going back.
Not only does the shortening-and-butter hybrid of a crust result in spot-on flavor and flakiness, it is very forgiving and easy to work with.
Pie crust has a reputation for being temperamental to make. Whoever coined the phrase “easy as pie” was clearly referring to how easy it is to eat pie and not how easy it is to make pie.
I’m not going to tell you that making homemade crust is easier than going to the store and buying yourself a pie crust. I used to think that. But then I realized that I already go to the grocery store for all of my other food, and they sell pie crust already rolled out in a pie pan! Have you seen this? You can just make pie, eat it, and not even have a pie pan to clean.
It's hard to get any easier than that.
But I have some compelling reasons to make pie crust myself:
- Pre-made pie crust is just kind of blah to me. It gets the job done, but it doesn’t deliver that buttery, flaky, melt-in-your-mouth crunch that has me racing through the pie piece just to get to the crust. Homemade is a clear winner here in my book.
- Is there a more wholesome ideal of homemaking than homemade pie crust? It is just so endearing and charming; I don’t want to not have a good pie crust recipe up my sleeve.
If you feel so moved to make your own pie crust this season, (and I hope you will because it really does taste better!), here is a step-by-step, with pictures for reference:
(If you're a pie crust expert and just want the printable recipe, scroll to the bottom.)
Prep your ingredients. Cold ingredients are key for a successful pie crust, so the first thing I do is chop up my butter and throw it in the freezer while I get everything else ready. Measure out flour, sugar, salt, and shortening; measure the water and then put a bunch of ice in it.
Set up your food processor. You can use a pastry cutter or go totally old-school and use forks, but a food processor will make this task so much easier. Plus, you don’t have to really worry about overworking your dough with a food processor.
Add dry ingredients to food processor and pulse a couple of times to combine. Add the butter and shortening and pulse 10-12 times, until butter is in roughly pea-size pieces. Now, turn the machine on and pour in the water, making sure to prevent any ice cubes from slipping out. Turn the machine off as soon as all the water has been added. The mixture will not be consistently wet throughout at this point.
Turn mixture out onto a clean work surface. It will look something like this:
Work the dough together using your hands until it is a uniform consistency. At this point in the process, you might be cursing my name and thinking this is way too sticky or this is way too dry. But keep squishing together until it looks like this:
If the dough isn’t coming together, or is really sticky, add more water/flour accordingly.
Next, divide dough into two even halves. Form each half into a disc and wrap tightly in plastic wrap.
THIS STEP IS IMPORTANT: Chill for at least half an hour. Preferably more like 2 hours. Don’t skip this step.
When you’re ready to get baking, lightly flour a clean work surface. Unwrap a dough disc and flour the top of it too. Roll from the center out, adding additional flour to prevent sticking if needed.
Transfer to a pie pan. Trim. Do the same thing with the second pie crust if you're making a two-crusted pie. If you only need one pie crust, freeze the second one for later use!
Seal your pie up.
Bake per the recipe you’re using.
Eat lots of flaky, crispy, buttery pie crust.
All-Purpose Pie Crust
A go-to pie crust for sweet and savory pies; this recipe produces a crust that is reliably flaky, crunchy, and buttery every time.
- 3 cups all purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 8 tablespoons unsalted butter, chopped and chilled
- 1/2 cup shortening
- 3/4 cup water, with ice added
Put flour, sugar, and salt in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the blade attachment. Pulse 2-3 times to combine. Add the butter and shortening. Pulse 10-12 times, until butter is in pea-size pieces. Turn on food processor and pour in the water, keeping any ice from being added. Turn off food processor promptly once all water has been added.
Turn mixture out onto a clean work surface. Some areas may be wetter than others. Work together with hands to a uniform consistency. Divide dough in even halves. Form each half into a disc. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 30 minutes prior to using.
When ready to use, roll the dough into a circle on a lightly floured surface. Turn and flour every couple of rolls to prevent sticking. Transfer to pie/tart pan, fold over or trim off excess, and bake according to recipe directions.
Pie dough is great to freeze! I like to always make two crusts, even if I only need one, so I can have one on hand for later. If freezing, put tightly plastic-wrapped dough disc in a freezer bag prior to freezing. It will keep for 3 months. Thaw in the refrigerator overnight.
Tools for success:
A food processor: One of my all-time favorite kitchen tools, and especially useful in this recipe!
A marble slab: Really, really useful for working with pie dough because it keeps things cold.
A rolling pin: I get annoyed by rolling pins sometimes because they’re not useful for much else other than rolling out dough, and they’re bulky and hard to store. BUT. It’s hard to roll out a pie crust without one.
Happy pie season!!