How To – The Perfect Pie Crust

Making pie crust can be amazingly fun or amazingly horrible.  While creating a pie crust from scratch can be a fearful thought, knowing the keys to the perfect pie crust can help make the experience pleasurable and rewarding.  Pie crust only requires a couple ingredients and once you get the hang of it, you will be able to create a perfect pie crust every time.

Over the years I have made many pie crusts.  I have tested out various recipes and techniques.  Some things worked, some things did not work.  When it comes to pie crust I have always been amazed at how one little change in ingredients or technique can vastly change the outcome of the pie crust.

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In this post I have outlined some things I have learned about pie crust making.  These key points are tried, true and never seem to let me down.

  • Butter: Use butter in the pie crust recipe.  Pie crust requires a fat of some sort to bind the other pie crust ingredients together.  Some recipes call for shortening, lard or even yogurt.  And while all of these fats technically work, butter provides a taste and richness to the pie crust that simply cannot be replicated.
  • Cold butter: To pig back off the first key point, when using butter, it must be cold butter.  Room temperature or warm butter will not create a flaky crust.  In the oven, cold butter melts slowly which creates layers and pockets providing for a perfectly flaky crust.
  • Don’t over mix:  Once the pie crust ingredients are combined, do not over mix the dough.  Having a dough that resembles coarse crumbs is the texture that is desired to create a flaky pie crust.  If the ingredients get over mixed, the butter can melt and the flour can become too glutenous.
  • Chill the dough:  Prior to rolling, the dough needs to be chilled in the refrigerator.  The key here, again, is that the butter needs to stay cold.  The butter will warm up slightly during the mixing stage, so chilling the dough prior to rolling it, will ensure the butter has stayed in its cold state.  Likewise, chilling the dough after it has been shaped in the pie pan also helps ensure the butter has not warmed too much prior to baking.
  • Blind baking: Blind baking is simply baking the pie crust prior to filling it with pie filling.  Blind backing helps to prevent the bottom crust from becoming too soggy.  During blind baking, the pie crust should be weighted down so that it does not bubble up too much.  Pie weights can be used or the crust can be lined with parchment paper and dried beans to provide sufficient weight.
  • Water:  Adding the right amount of water is crucial in creating the perfect pie crust.  Adding too much water can release too much gluten in the flour which can create a tough pie crust.  On the flip side, adding not enough water can mean that the ingredients don’t hold together, thus creating a cracked dough and crust.  The temperature of the water can also make a difference in how the pie crust turns out.  To ensure a flaky crust, using ice cold water is best.  Ice cold water falls in line with the other cold basics laid out in these key points.  The cold temperature ensures the butter stays in a cold state.

I hope the above hints are helpful in creating a perfect pie crust.  While the store bought pie crusts are amazingly convenient, there is nothing quite like homemade pie crust.   Happy pie making!

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