Everyone loves pie! Pumpkin pie, apple pie, cherry pie (my favorite!) chicken pot pie, chocolate silk pie, grasshopper pie, the list goes on… Pies have been around for centuries, although not always in the exact form that we recognize them today with the evenly-crimped edges and artful design cut into the top crust.

Meat and vegetable pastries were very popular and common in the Middle Ages. They effectively made a tidy meal to be eaten without the luxuries of plates or silverware, and more or less kept the eater’s hands clean (by Medieval standards, that is.) Over the years, these pastries evolved into the pies that we know today. Pies are a critical part of many American holidays. Thanksgiving would not be complete without a good pumpkin pie!

While the filling obviously plays an important role in piemaking, the crust is what makes or breaks a good pie. It may be convenient to pick up a pre-made frozen pie crust at the grocery store. However, making a prize-winning pie crust is really not that difficult. Plus you’ll make your Grandmother proud 😉 

Pie Crust Secrets (shhhhh…) 

What makes a good pie crust? The perfect pie crust should be buttery, flaky, delicate, and have good flavor. There are a few tips and tricks that you can use to acheive the perfect pie crust. The secret is twofold:

  1. Be sure that your ingredients are COLD
  2. Do not overmix the dough 

Here are some tips to use in light of these secrets:

  • Chill your mixing bowl
  • Chill your rolling pin if you use a metal one like mine
  • Use ice water, like with actual ice cubes floating in it
  • Chill your dough for several hours after mixing and before rolling it out
  • Make sure that you have the correct tools for working with the dough (pastry blender and dough scraper are essential!)
  • Do not add too much liquid all at once
  • A silicone baking mat will make rolling out the dough a breeze
  • Add a dusting of flour to both the baking mat and your rolling pin while working the dough 

Now that we know what it takes to make the perfect pie crust, let’s talk ingredients. For flour, I like to use King Arthur’s All Purpose Flour. It performs really well in baked goods, and is a good all-around flour to keep in the kitchen. Plus, it is non-GMO and has an Organic option as well. For salt, I always like to use sea salt or pink salt, depending on what I am making, since they include accessory minerals for our bodies to use. Raw organic cane sugar is a good choice when it comes to sugar since it isn’t subjected to the refining process, unlike white sugar. Organic butter and pasture raised eggs add omega 3’s and other essential nutrients. 

 

Let’s Get Baking!

To start off, I like to get my ice water chilling. Since the amount of liquid that you add to pie crust varies depending on the moisture content of your flour, and the room humidity, I usually chill around 1 1\2 cups although I usually end up using less. 

Once we have our water chilling, we will combine the flour, sugar, and salt together in our chilled bowl.

Next, we need to cut the cold butter into small slices to make it easier to incorporate into the dry ingredients. 

Once the butter is sliced, add it to the flour mixture and cut it in using your pastry blender. Keep blending unti the butter is in small, pea-sized chunks. 

Measure out 1/2 cup of the ice water and set aside the rest in case you need it later. Add the egg and white vinegar and whisk until completely combined. Add this mixture to the bowl and cut into the flour mixture. Add more of the cice water as needed, but just a few tablespoons at a time. The dough should come together but not be too sticky or too crumbly. Do not mix the dough or work it for too long. Doing so will start to activate the gluten in the flour and will make the dough chewy, and we are not making pizza dough 😉 

Once the dough is the right consistency, turn it out onto the baking mat and gently form it into a ball. Using your dough scraper, cut the ball into 4 equal pieces.

Form each section into a flattened ball and wrap in plastic wrap. Place them in the fridge and chill for several hours. 

Once the dough is sufficiently chilled, remove it from the fridge at place it on the floured baking mat. Add a light sprinkling of flour to the top of the dough, and if needed rub flour on your rolling pin as well. 

Start rolling the dough gently, being sure not to press down too hard. Work the dough evenly and turn it often to maintain a roud shape. If the dough starts sticking to the mat, lift it gently with the dough scraper and sprinkle a little more flour underneath. Make sure not to add too much flour as it can make the dough too dry. Once the dough is rolled out, size it by placing your pie pan on top. In order to be large enough, the dough should extend a couple inches around the whole pan. 

Transferring the dough to the pan requires gentleness and finesse. Using the dough scraper, fold the dough in half, and then in quarters. 

Next, move your pie pan as close to the dough as possible. Gently lift the pie dough using the dough scraper to help. Place the point of the dough near the center of the pan and gently unfold it. 

Now comes the fun part! Using your dough scraper or a paring knife, trim the edges of the dough so that it extends about 1/2 inch past the side of the pie pan. If some spots along the edge are a little short, use some of the to add on; pie crust is very forgiving 🙂 Save the trimmings and roll them out flat, add butter and cinnamon sugar and bake along with your pie. When I was a kid, this was known as the Pie Crust Yummy, and it was extremely coveted!  

Crimp the edges of the pie using your thumb and index fingers. Growing up, this was my favorite part of pie making. It was so amazing to me that something as mundane as your fingers could make such a pretty pie edge!

If using a top crust, wait to crimp until the filling is in and the top crust is put on.

Roll out the other three balls of dough as well. You will have either 4 single shells for open-faced pies, or two sets of crusts for double-crusted pies.

Fill with your favorite filling, bake accordingly, and enjoy. 

And, now you know how to make beautiful and delicious pie crust! (And make your grandmother proud that you made it from scratch 😉 

Perfect Pie Crust

Create the perfect flaky, buttery pie crust
Servings 4 single pie shells

Equipment

  • Large mixing bowl
  • Rolling Pin
  • Pastry blender
  • Dough scraper
  • Silicone baking mat
  • Measuring cups
  • Measuring spoons

Ingredients
  

  • 4 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1 Tbs raw cane sugar
  • 2 cups butter
  • 1/2 cup ice water
  • 1 egg
  • 1 Tbs white vinegar

Instructions
 

  • Mix flour, salt, and sugar in the mixing bowl
  • Slice butter into small chunks and cut into the flour mixture
  • Whisk the ice water, egg, and white vinegar together and cut into the flour mixture. Add more ice water if necessary to achieve the desired consistency
  • Turn dough out onto the baking mat and split into four equal pieces. Wrap each in plastic wrap and chill in the fridge for several hours.
  • Roll out each ball of dough on the floured baking mat. Place pie shell in the pie pan and add desired filling.

Notes

Make sure that the ingredients are well chilled. Do not overwork the dough or it will become tough. 
Keyword pie