How To Make Perfect Pie Crust Every Time

Oct 1, 2018 | Cooking Tips

One week from today is Thanksgiving (I’m Canadian), and so I thought I would make this whole week about Thanksgiving. Today, we are going to talk about Thanksgiving desserts, and how to make perfect pie crust. On Wednesday we will be talking Turkey, and on Friday we will be nailing down the Thanksgiving day side dishes. All of this to get you (and myself) ready for next Monday. So, without further ado, let’s talk pie.

Growing up, we always had two types of pie at Thanksgiving, pumpkin and apple. Occasionally, we would also have lemon meringue but that was less common. Now, if I’m being completely honest as a kid, I loved everything about pie except the crust. In fact, I hated the crust. I would scrape all of the fillings away from the pastry eat them and leave a soggy mess of crust in my wake. This extended beyond my childhood, into my teen years, and even into adulthood. It only really stopped when I started making my own pie crust.

I don’t remember how my mom made her crusts. I’m sure I’ve told you before that I didn’t really spend much time in the kitchen when mom was baking. Because of this, I didn’t pick up what she was doing. But I do remember how the crust tasted. Looking back on it I would make the assumption that she didn’t sweeten the dough, or at least used very little sugar. I do remember her using shortening rather than lard or butter. I found the crust was always slightly tough and just not my favourite.

So, what do I do differently than my mom (who was a great cook) that made it so I actually like pie crust, or at least I did before I found out I couldn’t eat gluten? Well, first of all, I sweeten it. I don’t add a lot of sugar, just enough so that it has a hint of sweetness. Second of all, I use butter instead of shortening which I find has a great impact on the flavour and the texture of the finished crust.

Okay, let’s get into actually making the crust. Typically, pie crust is two parts flour to one part fat by weight. So…


Pie Crust Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 2 pounds of flour
  • 1 pound of cold butter
  • 1/4 cup of sugar
  • a pinch of salt.
  • a few tablespoons of ice water

Directions:

  • Start by mixing the flour with the salt, and sugar.
  • Cut the butter into small pieces.
  • Now, using your hands, rub the flour into the cold butter.
  • Do this until all the butter is mixed in and the mixture resembles small peas.
  • Add two tablespoons of ice water and gently mix the mixture. If it doesn’t come together add a bit more water.
  • Mix only until you can get the dough to form a ball.
  • Cut the dough ball in half and for two separate balls.
  • Flatten each ball slightly, wrap in plastic, and place the dough in the fridge for at least two hours.
  • When you’re ready to use the dough, remove it from the fridge and let it sit for half an hour.
  • Cut each ball in two with one half being slightly larger than the other.
  • Roll the larger piece of dough on a lightly floured surface.
  • Line a pie pan with the dough and add your apples.
  • Roll the second piece of dough and top the pie with it.
  • Brush the dough with egg wash, and sprinkle with rock sugar if desired.
  • Poke a few holes in the dough to release steam.
  • Bake in a 425°F oven for about 30-40 minutes.

 


 

When it comes to the pie fillings, get creative. Make a caramel with bourbon and vanilla. Add that to your apples rather than just brown sugar and butter. This will add a surprising element to your traditional apple pie. A little bit of orange zest in your pumpkin pie filling will add a punch of flavour and enhance the pumpkin taste. In both pies cinnamon and nutmeg are your friends, cardamom could be too.

Just remember, when it comes to your dough, work with it as little as possible as overworking will cause it to toughen. Add only enough water to bring the dough together. And, don’t mix the butter in too much. Having those pea-sized pieces is what gives the crust it’s flaky texture.

 

 

2 Comments

  1. Michelle

    I hated pie crust growing up. Still do 40 some years later. Thank you for this! My husband will be thrilled. Can I make this gluten free using one for one flour?

  2. Chef Ben Kelly

    It is my pleasure Michelle. As for making it gluten-free. I’m honestly not sure. 1 – 1 flour isn’t always truly 1 – 1. It really depends on the application. I’m sorry I can’t be more help on this, but I haven’t made gf pie crust, and have done very little gf baking.

    Thank you for the comment.

    Chef Ben

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