How to Make Easy Homemade Pie Crust
Many people are very intimidated by the idea of making their own pie crust. It’s one of those things that gets pushed aside in the midst of the Thanksgiving preparations with a “I really don’t have time for that this year, I will just buy pre-made crust” attitude. I’m here to tell you that you can make your own dough in 30 minutes flat, and the crust will be flakey and taste amazing. I promise!
There are a few key things to keep in mind when attempting an all-butter crust.
The butter and water must be cold, cold, cold. I put ice in the water and let it sit for a bit before I weigh it.
Weigh your ingredients. A kitchen scale is a small investment that no serious baker could live without, and any non-serious bakers can quickly pass themselves off as serious ones just by using a scale.
The dough “works” or performs best when it has had a chance to properly chill and relax. It is best when made the night before and chilled overnight, but at the very least, chill for one hour in the refrigerator.
I’ve made pie dough for years, but one surprising thing I learned in culinary school is that you can have “mealy” pie dough or “flakey” pie dough. Mealy dough is best for wet fillings like pumpkin and pecan. Flakey is best for fruit pies like apple (my favorite!). To get mealy or flakey all depends on the size of the butter pieces. Pea-sized butter gives you mealy dough while walnut-sized butter gives you flakey dough. Today I am making flakey dough.
I use my stand mixer with the paddle attachment, but you can do this with a dough cutter or, as my mom always does, with a couple of butter knives.
3-2-1 Pie Dough
Makes 4, 10-inch pie crusts
1 pound + 8 ounces all-purpose flour
1 pound unsalted butter, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
8 ounces very cold water
1/2 ounce salt
Place the flour and salt into the work bowl and put all the butter on top. Mix on low speed for 30-60 seconds, until your butter pieces look flat and are about the size of walnuts for flakey dough, or until the size of peas for mealy dough. Feel the dough with your hands to check the size of the butter.
Add about ¾ of the water and mix briefly until the dough starts to stick together. Feel the dough again, making sure to check the very bottom of the bowl for flour that hasn’t been incorporated. If the dough feels wet and holds together when you squeeze it, stop mixing, if there are large dry areas, add a little more water and mix a little more. Your dough should be on your mixer no more than a couple of minutes.
Lightly flour your work surface and dump out the contents of your mixing bowl. Gather the dough together with your hands and press it into a large mound. Do not knead the dough, but try to incorporate any dry pieces that don’t want to stick to it. Divide the dough into 4 equal pieces. You can weigh them to make sure they are even. They should be about 11 ounces each. Flatten each piece into a disk, wrap with plastic, and refrigerate overnight or for at least one hour.
To roll out, lightly flour your work surface. Press firmly with your rolling pin, starting in the middle of the dough and roll up, then lift the pin, place back in the middle of the dough, and roll straight down. Give the dough ¼ turn clockwise. Repeat until the dough is about 1-inch larger than your pie pan. Up, down, turn. If the dough sticks, sprinkle a little more flour, but don’t get too carried away or your dough will become too dry.
Once your dough is rolled out, you can place it into the pie pan and chill it while you roll your other pieces. It is best to chill all the dough once it has been rolled, at least another 15-20 minutes. I like to use this time to prepare my pie fillings and preheat my oven.
Instructions from this point will depend on the type of pie you are making, but in general keep in mind that butter crust needs to start in a very hot oven in order to evaporate the butter and leave pockets of air, which creates the flakiness everyone desires in pie crust. Good luck and happy baking!
Have you ever tried to make homemade pie crust?