Recipe for The Perfect Pie Crust
Makes one 9-inch double crust pie or two single crust pies
1 1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour (6 ounces)
1 cup plus 3 tablespoons cake flour (6 ounces)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
1 cup butter, lard, or shortening, cut into 1/4-inch dice and chilled in the freezer
6-8 tablespoons ice water
1/8 teaspoon cider vinegar
One 9-inch pie plate
1. Following the recipe closely, precisely measure out or weigh all the ingredients. Be sure that the water and butter or fat are ice-cold. Begin by sifting the dry ingredients into a large mixing bowl.
2. Using your fingertips, quickly work in the butter, breaking and squeezing the pieces until the mixture is coarse and crumbly and the butter pieces are no bigger than a garden pea. Combine the vinegar and 6 tablespoons of ice water and add to the dry ingredients, vigorously shaking the bowl a few times to combine. Using your fingers, fluff the mixture up from the bottom of the bowl just until it begins to come together. (Squeeze a small portion of the dough between your fingers. If the mixture is too dry to come together, add additional ice water, a half-tablespoon at a time, until it just comes together.)
3. Gather the dough into a ball.
4. Using a sharp knife, divide the dough in half.
5. Flatten each half into a disk. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate while preparing the desired filling. (At this point, dough can be placed in a freezer bag and frozen for up to 3 months. Let thaw in the refrigerator 24 hours before using.)
So many fillings, but only one crust! Prepare the desired filling while the crust chills, then remove the crust from the refrigerator and continue:
6. Remove half of the dough from the refrigerator. On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough out into a 12-inch circle about 1/4-inch thick, large enough to fit into a 9-inch pie plate with about an inch of dough overhanging the edges. When rolling, always roll from the center of dough to the outer edges, turning dough a quarter of a turn after each roll.
This helps maintain the round shape and insures that dough will not stick to the rolling surface. Dust the surface with additional flour if the dough begins to stick.
7. To easily transfer the dough from the board to the pie plate, gently roll the dough onto the floured rolling pin.
8. Place it over the pie plate and gently unroll into place.
9. Arrange the dough to fit against the bottom and sides of the pie plate. Place the desired filling into the crust. (If making single-crust pies, proceed to step 12 and flute the edges.)
10. Roll out the remaining dough and position over the top of the filling.
11. Using scissors or a sharp knife, trim away the excess dough so only about an inch of dough remains hanging over the edge of the pie plate.
12. Fold under the edges to create a double thickness of dough around the edge.
13. Flute the edge by using the index finger and thumb on one hand as a guide along the outer edge of the pie, and the index finger on the opposite hand to create indentations around the entire pie.
14. Before baking, be sure to cut a few slits or vents in the top crust to allow steam to escape. Lightly brush the surface of the crust with heavy cream and sprinkle with coarse sugar before baking. Bake as the filling recipe directs.
Essential Tips for Successful Pies
- When measuring, spoon the flour into the cup instead of scooping down.
- Don't over-handle the dough. Work quickly and lightly, using your fingertips.
- Why use a touch of vinegar in a pie crust recipe? Vinegar discourages gluten development, which results in a tougher crust.
- Look for marbling in your dough - little pea-size chunks of butter. This is what will create the flaky layers.
- Refrigerate the dough for an hour before rolling it out.
- Flour the rolling surface and the rolling pin when rolling out. Avoid flouring the dough.
- Baking at higher temperatures (400ÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂ°F) helps create a crispier crust.
- To help prevent a soggy bottom crust, especially on fruit pies, brush the inside of the shell with a beaten egg white before filling. Place the pie directly on a preheated baking stone or cookie sheet set on the bottom rack of the oven for the first 15 to 20 minutes. Then raise the pie to a higher shelf for the remainder of the baking time to brown the crust.
- If the edges of the pie crust darken too quickly, cover them loosely with strips of foil so that the surface of the crust is exposed and can continue to brown.
- Always allow pies to cool to room temperature before slicing. This allows the juices to gel and thicken so that they get to the dessert plate, not pool in the pie plate.
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