Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Pie crust basics

When I was posting about that apple pie, I considered adding in my pie crust recipe, but it seemed like a lot of information for one post. Plus, pie crusts are kind of personal, and I'm sure lots of you already have a recipe you rely on. But just in case you don't, I'll share mine.

This recipe is the one I grew up with and I have it memorized (don't be too impressed - you'll see how easy it is). I think it's from Joy of Cooking, but I'm not sure. It makes enough for a double crust, but you could split it in half if you wanted. I always make two crusts and just store one in the freezer to have on hand.

The main things you want to remember when making a crust: work quickly to help keep it cold (warmth will make the dough greasy), don't over handle it (over mixing or trying to re-roll will make it tough).

Basic pie crust (makes 2 9" crusts)
2/3 cup cold butter (or 1/3 cup shortening plus 1/3 cup butter)
2 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp salt
5 - 10 tbsp ice cold water

Sift your flour with your salt.

Using a pastry blender (or the food processor) cut the butter into the flour until it resembles coarse cornmeal.


Add the ice water, a couple tablespoons at a time, gently mixing it in with a fork or a spatula, until the dough just holds together in a ball. This is the part that stresses me out a bit. The amount of water you need depends on the weather, and probably lots of other factors I don't know about. If you overmix the dough it will be a bit tough, so be careful.

Gently pat the dough into two discs, wrap in plastic wrap and let it rest in the fridge for 10 minutes or so.

Lightly flour your rolling surface, and place the dough disc in the center. Roll out from the center to the edges, and you should get a decently round shape. The circle needs to be an inch or two larger than you pie plate. Don't worry if the edges are uneven - it isn't a very big deal.

Transfer your dough to your pie plate and center it as best you can. Gently push it down into the plate.


Pick up the edge of the dough and start rolling it under to form a crust. Unless you are a magical creature who rolls out perfect circles, you'll find that some places have more dough overhang than others. I work around the edge, and pull off pieces of the larger overhangs and set them aside. Then, if I come to a spot with a very small overhang, I will gently insert a piece of the extra dough under it and roll the small overhang over the top as best I can. It gives you a false lift and makes the crust look more even.

The final step is crimping the edges. I just work with my fingers, gently placing my first two fingers on the outer edge of the crust and then pushing my thumb through from the inside to form the wave shape. I always freeze my crusts for at least an hour before I use them - it helps keep the shape from wilting away in the oven.


You can see the places where it isn't perfect, but no one will notice when they are distracted by the smell of fresh pie. I promise.


  1. thank you so much for the recipe...however, I am still way too terrified to attempt piecrust...I think my mother's fear was passed down to me...

  2. you make all things kitchen-related seem way easier than they are so i fear this is the same deal with the pie. at least now i understand that keeping it cool and not playing with the dough would help me out a lot.

  3. A great primer Rachel, thank you! I'm all about freezing before baking...I do it with anything that I want to be flaky, like scones, or with things that I want to hold their shape, like shaped sugar cookies. Such a simple step that guarantees great results!

    I'll be sure to give this crust a try--there's a dessert contest at the hubster's office picnic, and your apple pie has definitely made my short list :)

  4. I've got to try it!
    Beautiful pics, so full of light!

  5. A long time ago I vowed that I would never do pie crust- there's just too much of a chance of failure. But now, I think I'd like to break my vow and just try this one. Thanks Rachel!

  6. Rachel- I will give this a try. If you remember I need major pratice when it comes to pie crust! However, I think it would be easier if you lived near buy and I could order one of your pies- now that is an idea!

  7. Don't be afraid of pie crusts, guys! I swear it just takes a little practice. Plus, if you mess up, all you've lost is a couple cups of flour and some butter - no big deal!

  8. Thanks for sharing I'm such and instant crust cheater. This is wonderful.

  9. i'm so sad i don't have an oven in korea. ovens are not very popular here. i am looking at all your recipes and counting the days until my return... to an oven!

    by the way i tried the tuna/chickpea salad, it was quick and delicious!!


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