Foolproof Pie Crust
I use to make pies for my grandpa, one of the last things I made him was an apple pie with his Granny Smith apples he grew in his yard. But at the time I had yet to perfect the perfect pie crust, so I had to go with store bought. He was such a gem, always proud of his grandkids so even if it tasted absolutely terrible or was "semi-homemade" he was always impressed. I vowed to perfect a homemade pie crust ever since and now, I can't even imagine buying crusts anymore.
The taste, the texture, the flaky-ness-- nothing beats homemade crusts.
I use my pie crust in multiple ways, savory pies (think chicken pot pie), seasonal pies with beautiful lattices (blueberry, apple, pear and cranberry), and my new found favorite, galettes. A galette is almost an "open faced" pie. It's. a beautiful cross between a pizza and a pie because it uses pie crust vs., pizza dough. You can add a variety of toppings to a galette both savory and sweet and it's a true show stopper when entertaining because it's so fast to whip up but looks like a million bucks. The key, of course, is the pie crust. So, enough small talk lets get to the recipe shall we?
1 1/4 c. Flour + more for dusting
1/2 tsp. Sugar
1/2 c. (1 stick) salted Butter, cold
1 tbs. Apple Cider Vinegar
3/4 c. Water + 3 ice cubes
Parchment paper (or non-stick silicon mat)
Directions: The absolute key to a flaky, perfect, pie crust is to keep everything very very COLD! The night before I tend to make my pie crust the night before I'm using it to allow it to rest overnight in the fridge.
First, I cut up my butter into 1/2" cubes, I put it on a plate an into the freezer for 30 minutes (after it's cut).
After your butter is done in the freezer, take it out and it into a large mixing bowl with the flour. Here you will use our pastry cutter to "cut" the butter into the flour. It will be hard at first and you may have to even scrape the butter off your pastry cutter frequently.
You are not looking to make "Grated" butter, you are just looking to cut it down into smaller cubes into your flour. You want it to look chunky like you can still SEE the butter they're just not massive. Try to reduce the size of the cubes above by 75%.
Now comes the part people hate. Anytime I talk about pie crust with folks they always ask me how they done that the dough is "done" or how they know they added enough water? Do they just add all the water in the recipe-- NO! Unfortunately, every time you make it you'll have varying amounts of liquid that you'll need before it's "done". But I took a step-by-step picture log for you to follow so you too can determine when your dough has come together. I will say, you are more than welcome to use a standing mixer with a dough hook paddle, but I think it turns out best when mixed by hand.
Before you start any mixing, take out a small bowl, add in your water, ice cubes, and apple cider vinegar. The ice cubes won't melt, but they will help to keep that mixture COLD (remember I said earlier this is the absolute key to pie crust?). Now that you have this mixture in a small bowl, take out a 1/4 cup measuring spoon and follow below:
1) It's safe to say you will definitely need the first 1/4 cup of the cold water/vinegar mixture. Pour this into your flour and cut up butter and give one stir (don't over mix).
2) Add in another 1/4 cup of water, give it another stir. In case this is not self-explanatory, do not pour in ice cubes, they should stay in the liquid mixture in order to keep it cold.
3) Add in 2 more 1/4 cups of liquid, but this time you're going to give your mixture a few good stirs, 2-3 between each pour. It should start to feel like things are "sticking" together more. See how different it looks? But it's still crumbly at this time. Try to work on the bottom of the bowl because the liquid doesn't go there and dry bits of flour are sitting on the bottom of the bowl.
4) Now you will switch from the 1/4 cup measuring spoon to 1 tbs. measuring spoon. You will then add 1 tbs. of liquid until it is fully brought together, giving it 1-2 stirs each time.
After 1 tbs. of liquid:
5) After another 1 tbs. of liquid. At this point I "pressed" the dough with the back of my spoon to see if it will "Stick" and it does... it's "almost" there.
6) I added 1 more tbs. of the liquid and it was absolutely perfect, everything was coming together. There was absolutely no "sticky" or "tacky" parts. I didn't need flour on my hands to pick it up, but it's also not dry. It has officially come together.
Now flour you're surface, and place the ball on your surface. Don't knead the dough-- this is not bread. You are not trying to make the gluten expand and work with any yeast (because there is no yeast) and get any air in there. In fact you're doing the opposite you want something dense and flaky. If you see "chunks" of butter in your dough-- you did a good job!
Roll the dough over a few times only to make it even and smooth and almost into a disk.
Now wrap it up in plastic wrap and pop it back into the fridge. Ideally you'd do this overnight before needing it, but at least 2 hours.
Your dough is basically done! The next day or after 2 hours, you'll take it out and place it back on a floured surface. I take the disk while still in the plastic wrap and I "bang" it with the rolling pin a few times to begin to open it up. Sounds weird but I'm basically starting the rolling process and trying to make it easier for myself.
Then with a floured rolling pin I open up the dough flipping it over a few times while I open it up to prevent it from sticking to the surface. The key is to keep the surface floured.
If you look real closely, you should see little chunks of butter still there, chunks = flakes!