There are a few simple but crucial things that every housewife must know how to do, according to my grandmas and turning out a perfect, flaky rich pie crust is one of them.
A store bought pie crust is fine for the housewife in a hurry but nothing adds elegance and love to a holiday table like a beautiful pie made by the hostess’s own hands. Today we’ll learn the classic French method for pie crust, which you can use in your sweet holiday pies, quiches for brunch and hearty pot pies for those Thanksgiving left-overs.
The Perfect Pie Crust
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 ½ sticks chilled butter
- 4 TB chilled vegetable shortening
- ½ cup iced water, plus a little more as needed
- ½ tsp salt
- 1/8 tsp sugar
This recipe calls for both butter and shortening because All Purpose flour in the US needs a little shortening to make the crust tender.
You can certainly mix your dough in a food processor, which is less messy and perfect if you have an army of pies to bake but if you have the time, I do recommend mixing by hand to really get a feel for how its done.
Start by cutting the butter into small bits as seen below.
Add flour, sugar, salt, butter and shortening to a large bowl. Using just the tips of your fingers, work quickly to break the butter bits up into tiny fakes while combining it with the flour. The four should coat the little pieces of butter so it doesn’t all stick to your hands at once. If you work too slowly, the butter will melt so try to be quick! Think “Edward Scissorhands cutting hair”!
Next add the water slowly and combine the crumbles with the water with one hand.
Shape the dough into a ball.
Next comes the French technique of final blending called “friasage”
On a lightly floured surface, use the heel of your hand to quickly smear the dough across the board. You will press down and away from you, pushing the dough about 6 inches across. This final move will blend the fat of the butter with the flour.
Form the dough into a ball and dust it lightly with four. Wrap it in plastic and freeze it for about an hour or refrigerate overnight.
This dough may be refrigerated for 2-3 days or frozen for a few weeks, as long as it is wrapped in an air tight seal.
Roll Out the Dough
Smack the dough with a rolling pin to soften it and place it on a lightly floured surface. Knead it quickly into a flat circle.
With the rolling pin at the center of the dough, roll the pin back and forth to smooth it out.
Roll the dough out, always pushing away from you. Lift the dough and turn it as you roll, adding a bit of flour so it doesn’t stick. The final crust will need to be about 2 inches bigger than your pie pan.
If the buttery crust is sticking to your rolling pin, you may lay a sheet of plastic wrap over the crust and roll on top of the plastic.
Bake the crust according to your recipe instructions.
Pie Crust Tips & Tricks
- You can freeze a stick of butter and grate with a cheese grater instead of mixing by hand.
- Sprinkle a pie with 2TB sugar and 2TB flour before adding filling, this prevents a soggy crust.
- For a double crust, brush a bit of water on the edge of the crust to get a good seal when pressing them together.
- To keep a crust from burning, wrap the edges in aluminum foil.
- For a gorgeous golden crust, brush the crust with 1 egg yolk beaten with 1 TB milk or cream.
- Cool pies on a wire rack to aid in air circulation and prevent a soggy crust.
Here are some ideas on what types of fillings you can use!