Don’t be intimidated by a homemade pie crust! This buttery, flaky perfect pie crust turns out great every time and is the perfect starting place for all your favorite pies.
Pie is my favorite. I just love a good, flaky, buttery pie crust filled with wonderful seasonal fruit. I am one of those people who would take pie over cake, any day of the week. Paul is the opposite. He has started to come around to pie, but when we were first married he was just not a fan of anything other than banana cream pie, and even then he almost never ate any of the pie crust. So basically, he was a fan of banana pudding. My handsome fella has come far in the years we have been married and now will fairly enthusiastically devour a slice of apple, or peach, or sometimes even strawberry rhubarb pie, although he still usually leaves his crust on his plate like a 4-year old (love you anyway sweetheart!). But an old-fashioned banana cream pie is still his favorite.
Many people are intimidated by pie crusts but this perfect pie crust recipe will solve all pie crust woes. And with a food processor, it is ridiculously easy. Just putting things in, pulsing it a bit, adding ice water, and then you are done. It’s only a little more work by hand, which is how I have to do it since I don’t have a food processor! Then it gets divided into discs (if you are doing a double-crust pie), wrapped in plastic wrap and sits in the fridge for an hour, which lets the fats that make a pie crust tender and flaky chill out and the moisture in the dough distribute evenly throughout so that when you go to roll it out your crust doesn’t fall to pieces.
I’m going to go a little nerdy here and delve into pie crust theory more than most people might want to know. Feel free to skip to the recipe at the bottom of the post if you would like. But there are varying schools of thought on whether butter or shortening makes the best pie crust. Shortening makes a flakier crust but it doesn’t have the flavor that butter does. A butter crust has better flavor, but it’s not as delicate and flaky as the shortening crust. So it only makes sense that the best pie crust is a combination of the two approaches! This perfect pie crust recipe comes from the America’s Test Kitchen cookbook where they call it their “Basic Crust”. They experimented with a variety of combinations of the two and ultimately took the position that a proportion of 3 parts butter to 2 parts shortening is “optimal for both flavor and texture” and that a ratio of 2 parts flour to 1 part fat produces the a pie dough that is both easier to work with and results in a very tender and flavorful baked crust. I’m not going to argue with that.
When it comes to rolling out the dough, just make sure you have enough flour on your surface and that you use long strokes with your rolling pin, taking your time to work with the dough and not manhandle it into the shape you want. But also, don’t worry if you feel like you DO need to handle it more. I know pie crust connoisseurs will recoil in horror when I say this, but honestly if your crust is falling to pieces, squash it back into a ball and re-roll it. Build a little confidence and with practice, you won’t need to do that again because you will learn by doing just how to roll your pastry dough out so that it doesn’t fall apart on you. But in all honesty, this dough is such a good one that I doubt you will need to go that far, even on your first attempt. Also, I find a pie scraper like this one to be an invaluable tool in the rolling and fitting into the pie pan stage because it helps get the crust off the counter if it is sticking from not enough flour. I tend to roll a bit, then scrape the edges and sprinkle a little flour underneat and on top, then roll a little more, etc. until I get the crust to the right size for my pie dish. Plus I can use the scraper to scrape up scraps and flour after I’m done rolling my crust, which makes clean-up a breeze.
I love how I caught Rose’s little fingers sneaking in to pinch a taste of pie dough in this photo. She’s a sneaky one, my Rose.
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