Annika Eats

Perfect Pie Crust

Pie Crust 101. This all butter pastry is simple to make with 4 main ingredients you’ve got yourself a homemade flaky pie crust that can be used in many recipes. 

Making your own pie crust is not complicated. It seems daunting but the process is simple, you do need patience to let the pastry relax before rolling and baking. We are making a recipe that is my go to for all pies and is versatile. I like the Flaky Crust as it holds its shape well and most fillings pair well with it. It does shrink a little but that is normal during the baking process. This is a personal choice but I believe you will learn a lot from just this specific pastry that will allow you to bake most recipes successfully in the future.

The main point to keep in mind is we want to maintain the temperature of the ingredients. This is a cold butter/water crust (there are hot water crusts too) hence we want to ensure all our ingredients are as cold as they can be. This will help with he flakiness and overall texture once baked, also it will be easier to roll out the dough if it is chilled. 

What Ingredients are used to make a pie?

The basic ingredients needed to make a pie crust are butter, flour and water. Yes, salt and sugar are added in some instances however not always. Some recipes call for whole eggs, while others call for egg yolks, hot water, vinegar or vodka are also commonly used. There are few which use milk as well however the liquid used is based on the method of preparation, the type of pastry being made and what is its use. We will be making a fundamental recipe that is great for multiple purposes which also has a few substitutes to help you along while baking this recipe.

Butter:

  • If you are using salted butter the addition of salt needs to be monitored.
  • Ideally you want a high fat content butter which means don’t use your ultra lite butter or spread to make this pastry. Also butter spreads that are soft even in the fridge will not work here. The fat content is needed to help the dough get flaky and develop that glorious crust.
  • The butter needs to be fridge cold which means it shouldn’t be melting in your hands but holding it shape 
  • Cubed butter helps you to work it into the flour ensuring you don’t over work it
  • There are recipes that use cream cheese in place of butter as it is very high in fat content, however this recipe works best with butter.

Flour:

  • All purpose flour (APF) is perfect for this recipe and works like a charm
  • If you live in a very hot and humid climate chill the flour in the fridge before using as well
  • You don’t need to sift the flour however if it is lumpy then using your fingers or a fork mix it around to break up any lumps

Water:

  • The water MUST be ice cold. ICE cold. I repeat it and emphasize on it cause its essential for that flake factor.
  • There are no substitutes for this ingredient and you should not try to get creative at this stage.
  • The amount of water does vary as every flour absorbs/hydrates differently based on location, type, brand etc. hence it is important to know what texture is needed of the dough while mixing.

Salt:

  • You shouldn’t skip this recipe as there is a whole lot of flour in here that is bland hence it is important for you to season it with salt.

Vinegar/Vodka:

  • This allows the pastry to cool down but not rock solid making it easier to roll out once chilled. I would recommend using either or if you are making pastry for the first time. 

What Equipment is needed to make a pie?

Best part about making pie is that fancy kitchen equipment is not needed. To make the dough all you need are your trusty hands, a rolling pin, cling wrap, baking parchment, a baking dish, oven and some baking weights (aka raw legumes/grains which can be reused to bake again). There are a ton of fancy bits and bobs that can be used like a bench scraper, pastry cutter, food processor, etc however we don’t need any of them to bake it but we will go through how to use a food processor.

Weigh Scale:

  • This is worth an investment as it will help with accuracy from the get go.
  • I have provided cup measurements that will help as well however weighing scales are the way forward to better your baking.

Your hands:

  • You will use your hands to bring the dough together. If they are naturally warm, you will chill all the ingredients including the bowl to try and keep everything cold.
  • You can use gloves if you like however I wouldn’t recommend it.

Large Mixing Bowl:

  • This is very important as you need a big surface to keep add air into the dough while mixing.
  • It is easier to use a larger bowl than to struggle with a small bowl.

Cling Wrap:

  • If you are making pastry dough for the first time, if your hands are warm, if you live in a hot/humid climate then cling wrap will be your best friend. It will help you manage the dough less.
  • You will also wrap the dough and store it in the cling film which will enable the dough to stay hydrated.

Rolling Pin:

  • What ever rolling pin you have will work. This is a personal preference hence you can even use a sealed wine bottle to roll out your dough.
  • Whats important is to ensure you are applying even pressure while rolling.

Baking Pie Dish:

  • I like using aluminium dishes to bake my pies. I have used ceramic and they also yield great results.
  • If you are baking for the first time you can use an oven safe glass dish as this will help you see the color of the crust and its baking doneness. 
  • There are tons of use and throw options made out of aluminum foil which are also a great addition if you are traveling with the pie. 
  • This recipe is for a double crust 8inch/9inch pie.

Scissors:

  • Might sound odd but the best way to trim your pastry once its lined into the tin are a pair of scissors. You could use a knife but I prefer this instead.

Fork/Knife:

  • You need something to dock the pastry before blind baking and you could use a fork or knife to do that.

Baking Parchment:

-This is used while blind baking the pastry. It is essential so the baking weight (or legumes) are not touching the pastry directly.

Baking Weight:

  • I personally have used baking weights and they work like a charm but I have to be honest and tell you I don’t have them in my kitchen at home. I use a mix of chickpeas, red kidney beans and rice which I store in a jar that only come out when I need to blind bake anything.
  • They cannot be used to cook once they are baked in the oven but you let them cool down so you can reuse them whenever needed. Also this is a wallet friendly option.

Oven:

  • You need an oven to bake a pie. It won’t work over a stove or in regular microwave. 
  • You can use counter top ovens to bake  pies as well. 
  • Microwave ovens also work however the best result comes from regular ovens, gas or electric, its doesn’t matter.

What substitutes can you use?

  • Butter is the best option however vegetable shortening or margarin will also yield a decent pastry however the flavor would be lost with that. Also for this recipe you cannot use nut butters or oils in place of the butter. Basically, don’t skip the butter.
  • Self raising flour works as well, Maida (Indian all purpose flour works), 50/50 APF & Whole wheat flour work in this recipe, Gluten free flour mix (can be bought in bags online) can be used in exactly the same ratio as the recipe here.
  • You can use table salt (reduce the amount a little as it could get salty), pink salt, rock slat (that’s crushed), flaky salt (that’s crushed) and sea salt.

How to make the pie crust dough?

To make the dough we start with cold butter and ice cold water. If you don’t have this then throw it into the fridge and start once its cold. We begin with our large bowl and add the flour into it, stir it about with your fingers. Add the salt and mix again. Add the cubed butter and toss. Once all the cubes are coated well, smash each cube between your index finger and thumb. Once all the pieces are smashed, rub between your fingers and aerate. Walnut sized pieces is that you want. Add half the water and briefly mix around using your fingers in the shape of a claw. Add little more water and mix together until it starts to come together and there are no dry areas. Form two balls and wrap in cling film 

You need to let the dough chill out for at least 2 hours if not longer. When you go back to use it, it should be firmer and cold. This is a step you cannot skip, why? The chilling allows the gluten in the flour to relax and the temperature doesn’t allow it grow hence keeping it firm. The butter solidifies while the water continues to hydrate the flour during this time. All this helps while you roll out the dough later. This also helps when baking the dough later, as the butter melts in the oven it converts to steam which evaporates and in turn creates those flaky layers. Rolling the dough is subjective matter however it cannot be so thick where you struggle to cut the pie once baked or too thin that it just falls apart however I say it is subjective as pie dishes are different and what pie you make also plays a roll.

Roll the dough to a thickness of almost 1/2 an inch. Line the pie dish with the pastry. Trim the excess dough using scissors. Tuck the excess under. Dock the pastry at the bottom and on the sides using a fork or a knife. Place the baking parchment into the pie dish and ensure the paper is large enough to come up on the sides. {At this stage if your kitchen is hot and the pastry is too soft you can pop it into the freezer to chill for 20 mins before blind baking.} Add the baking weight into the pie dish. Blind bake at 180˚C for 15 mins in a preheated oven.

You are looking for little color on the sides of the pastry. It should be a little dry to the touch and should definitely not look like raw pastry dough. Remove the baking weight and the parchment. {To be absolutely certain you could beat an egg and brush the bottom with it and bake again for 3 mins until its dried, this seals the pastry ensuring no moisture can make it soggy. You don’t NEED to do this but it is a helpful step}. Now if you are making an open pie/tart you can add your filling at this stage and bake again. But if you are making a double crusted pie, add the filling and cover with the 

How long can you store the dough?

The dough can be stored for upto 3 months in the freezer wrapped in cling film and in a zip lock bag, however you don’t want to store it for too long as it does loose its hydration. You can make the dough a head and place it in the fridge.

What recipes can you make with this recipe?

This is basic foundation recipe for any pie/quiche/tart/poptart you want to make.This dough can be used to make slab pies in a rectangle dish. Save the scraps to make biscuits and flaky crust bites by rolling the excess, cutting and baking until golden brown.

Now it totally depends on you from here on out. Are you making a double crust pie, i.e. top and bottom covered in crust? Are you making a tart? Does the filling need to be baked? If it is precooked you don’t need to bake it in the pastry shell. This recipe is enough for a double crust pie. You can check out my Chicken Pot Pie recipe or Kale Quiche for inspiration. 

Happy Baking!

Perfect Pie Crust

This all butter pastry is simple to make with 4 main ingredients you’ve got yourself a homemade flaky pie crust that can be used in many recipes.
Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 1 hr
Course Breakfast, Appetizer, Dessert, Sweet tooth, High Tea, Pie
Cuisine French

Equipment

  • Large mixing bowl
  • Rolling Pin
  • Bench scraper
  • Baking dish
  • Fork
  • scissors

Ingredients
  

  • 330 gm Flour
  • 3/4 tsp Salt
  • 230 gm Butter cold and cut into cubes
  • 110 gm Ice water literally ice in water, might need some more or less
  • 15 ml Vodka/Vinegar

Instructions
 

  • In a large mixing bowl, add the flour and salt and briefly mix until mixed through.
  • Add the cubed butter into the flour and toss around to coat well.
  • Smash and flatten each piece of butter between your index finger and thumb. Toss the flattened pieces in the flour to coat again.
  • Break the pieces of butter apart with the tips of your fingers again to create walnut/pecan sized pieces of the butter. Keep tossing in the flour to coat evenly.
  • Add 3/4 amount of the water into the flour and butter mixture, create a claw like shape with your hand and stir in a circular motion to bring it together.
  • Add tablespoons of water as required to bring together. Once it comes together, where the dough is not sticky or has any dry flour pockets, turn out onto a surface and briefly knead, bringing it together.
  • Divide into two discs and wrap in cling film. Leave to chill for a minimum of 1 hour to firm up.
  • Roll one disc of the dough out between two pieces of cling film until larger than the pie dish.
  • Line the pie dish with the dough and using your fingers tuck the dough into the corners of the baking dish.
  • Dock with a fork all over the pastry and trim the excess dough using a pair of scissors and leaving a good 2 inches of the dough to over hang.
  • Take the dough that is over hanging over the pie dish and tuck it under itself to create a thicker crust rim/edge. Crimp/decorate as you like.
  • Place a large piece of baking parchment over the top. Add dried legumes/grains and bake in a preheated oven at 180˚C for 15 or so until lightly golden on the sides and dry to the touch.
  • Remove the baking parchment and dried legumes, at this stage you can brush the pie crust with a beaten egg and bake for a couple of minutes just to make a crispier base however it is optional and I won’t be doing it for this recipe. This crust is only partially baked hence it still needs to bake further which we will do in the assembly section.

Notes

  • Food Processor option: In a food processor pulse the flour and cold butter until fine breadcrumbs. Add the water tablespoon at a time and keep pulsing until a dough forms. Divide the dough into two halves. Wrap in cling file and leave to chill for 1 hour in the fridge. Follow the rest of the recipe from point number 8.
  • Do not over work the butter and flour mixture.
  • Ensure everything is COLD COLD COLD for the flakiest crust.
  • You can always work a wet dough better than a dry dough. So if there are dry pockets of dough in your bowl sprinkle water into those areas and bring together.
  • If you dough is too sticky then you have added too much water however, worry not, instead of rolling between cling film, knead with a generous amount of flour on the work surface until you can handle it. Chill it and and roll out with lots more flour.
  • Dock the sides of the pastry to ensure even baking and no puffing.
  • Leave at least 2 inches worth of dough while trimming as it does shrink when baked. We will tuck the dough under itself and let it sit on the pie baking dish to create support while baking.
  • If you need to chill the dough along the way, keep putting it into the fridge once too cool down before baking.
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