Through much trial and error (read "pain and anguish"), I've discovered that there are three main tricks to handling pie crust successfully: Keep it really cold, don't stretch the dough, and be patient. If you try to rush the process by not chilling the dough at each step, it will be sticky and very difficult to handle. I use a large heavy plastic bag to roll the dough out -- it's easy to move to and from the freezer, and you can just cut the bag apart to remove the dough for shaping. But you can also use parchment paper. If the dough is very cold, it will peel off easily. This recipe makes plenty of dough to fit a 6-inch pie plate or deep tart pan. It will also fill two 4-inch pie tins. It's great for desserts like this caramel apple pie or savory dishes like quiche or pot pies.
- 4-1/4 ounces flour (about 1 cup)
- 3 ounces butter (6 tablespoons), chilled, cut into small cubes
- 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/8 teaspoon sugar (see note)
- 2 tablespoons ice cold water
- For a Double-Crust Pie:
- 5-1/4 ounces flour (about 1-1/2 cups)
- 4 ounces butter (8 tablespoons), chilled, cut into small cubes
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon sugar
- 3 tablespoons ice cold water
1. Place flour, butter, salt, and sugar in the bowl of a small food processor. Process on pulse until fat is cut uniformly into the flour in very small pieces. Add water all at once, and process just until dough holds together. If dough is too dry to stick together, add more water by teaspoon increments.
(If you don't have a food processor, mix together flour, sugar, and salt. Cut in the butter with a pastry blender or large heavy fork until flour is in small pieces.
Add water and mix just until the dough holds together. Proceed with recipe.)
2. Place dough in a heavy 2- to 3-gallon sized sealable plastic bag and press into a round thick disk. Chill in refrigerator or freezer until stiff.
3. Leaving the dough in the plastic bag, roll the dough out into a large circle (for a deep 6-inch pan, the circle should be about 10 inches in diameter; the dough should be about 1/4 inch thick). Return the bag to the freezer for about 10 minutes or until dough is stiff. Cut the bag apart along the seams and peel it from the plastic. Without stretching the dough, fit it into the bottom of your pie dish and up the sides (you may need to let the dough soften a little; it should be malleable but cold). Trim excess crust, leaving about 1/4-inch extending over the edge of the pan. Patch any holes or thin spots. Chill for 15 minutes and use as directed in recipes that call for uncooked pie crust.
Dough can be frozen at this point for up to several weeks: after it's chilled, cover the surface with plastic wrap.
4. For a double-crust pie, divide the dough into two balls: about 1/3 for the top crust and 2/3 for the bottom. Use two plastic bags for rolling the dough out. Use the previous instructions for fitting the bottom crust into the pan. After filling, lay the top crust over and trim the excess dough. Crimp the bottom and top crust together to seal. There are several ways to do this: you can press down firmly with the tips of the tines of a fork; you can pinch the edges of the dough together using the index finger and thumb of one hand and the index finger of the other; or, if you've left the excess 1/4 inch of dough around the edge of the bottom crust, you can roll it up over the top crust and press the edges together.
4. To blind bake (single crust only, obviously): Preheat oven to 400F. Place the pan in the freezer for 15 minutes or so, until dough is very stiff. Line the crust with a piece of aluminum foil (not heavy duty) and pour in enough pie weights, pennies, dried beans or rice to reach about halfway up the sides. Bake for 20 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven and carefully lift the foil out of the crust. The crust should be set but not browned. Return pan to the oven and bake for another 10 to 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool.
- For a dessert crust, increase the sugar to 1 teaspoon for a single crust or 1-1/2 teaspoons for a double crust.
- This amount of dough is very generous; you may have some leftover after rolling. You can freeze it, or roll it out, sprinkle with Parmigiano cheese and bake it for a snack. It'll take about 10 to 15 minutes to bake.