The combination of butter and shortening or lard makes for a supremely flaky, tender, flavorful pie (or tart) crust. Be warned, however, that such flaky tenderness comes at a cost. The dough is soft and can be tricky to move around. Chill it thoroughly before rolling out and, if your kitchen is warm, consider chilling it again mid-roll (for help see Making Perfect Pie Crust for tips).
I include a bit of sugar in the dough because I like my pie crusts just a teeny bit sweet. Feel free to leave it out if you don't.
This recipe makes enough dough for 1 single-crust pie or tart but easily doubles for a double crust.
- 1 1/4 cup flour
- 1 Tbsp. sugar (optional)
- 1/2 tsp. fine sea salt
- 4 Tbsp. butter, well chilled and cut into small pieces
- 4 Tbsp. shortening (or lard, well chilled and in pieces)
- 3 Tbsp. ice-cold water or vodka*
- In a food processor or medium bowl combine the flour, sugar (if using), and salt.
- Add the butter and the shortening or lard.
- If using a food processor, add only half of the butter and pulse to combine until the mixture looks like cornmeal. Add the remaining butter and pulse a few times for some pea-size chunks.
- If making by hand, use a fork, two knives, or your fingers to work the fats into the flour mixture until it looks like cornmeal with a few pea-size chunks in it and some chunks of dough starting to hold together.
- Quickly stir in the water or vodka* until a dough forms (you may need to add another tablespoon of ice-cold water if the air is very dry).
- Keep stirring the mixture until a ball of dough forms. Once there is a ball of dough with some bits of cornmeal-looking bits on the bottom, knead the dough lightly in the bowl to bring it together.
- Turn the dough out onto a large piece of plastic wrap and pat it into a disc about 6 inches across.
- Wrap it in the plastic wrap and chill until firm, at least 30 minutes.
- Put the dough disc on a well floured surface (this dough is extra tender at this point and will require a fair amount of flour to roll out - that's okay, it's designed to pick up more flour as it is rolled out) and roll it to desired thickness, being careful to turn the dough 90 degrees after each roll to make sure it isn't sticking. If it does start to stick, lift up dough, and throw a bit of flour underneath.
*Using vodka in place of water adds extra tenderness (and flakiness) since alcohol-heavy vodka contains less water by volume than does water, so there is less water to develop the gluten – and toughness – in the flour. Learn more here.