Buttery and flaky, this is the perfect pie crust from scratch that works for both sweet and savory pie filling.
I used to be afraid of making pie crust. I’ve usually ended up having it too crumbly or soggy and that made me upset. Really upset. I learned to become good at making pie crust through constant practice thanks to my mom’s tutoring and right now I am confident to find one recipe that works for me every single time.
Everyone has their own favorite pie crust and so do I. The recipe that I am going to share with you has won my heart as it never fails me. I like how it turned out flaky, buttery and crispy on the outside but still tender on the inside. Some recipes will call for butter, shortening or both but I love to use only butter in my pie crust for the best buttery flavor. When it comes to pie, I would take it as best as I can.
The ingredients for making a pie crust are simple: flour, salt, sugar, butter, water. I have learned that the result will differ based on the ingredients temperature and how you work with the dough. For me, using the same ingredients won’t tell you that you can have the same result. It took me a while to learn these tips as the first few pie crusts I made in Vietnam, a country with humid and hot weather, were a bit soggy and not flaky at all.
TIPS FOR MAKING A FLAKY PIE CRUST
Use very cold ingredients when making the dough. To achieve the flaky texture, the ingredients, especially butter, must be cold. The reason is that when combined, the cold butter throughout the dough will melt and create pockets of air between the dough layers during the baking. You will want to cut the butter into small cubes or grate into shreds, then put it in the freezer until needed. For the water, you could add some ice cubes to keep the water very cold.
Don’t add too much water at one time. Too much water added to the dough will make the dough become tough and no longer flaky. I like to start by adding 4 tablespoons of cold water, then add one more once at a time.
Speed up the process with a food processor. Pulse the mixture of flour, cold butter cubes or shreds, sugar, salt and cold water until small chunks or pea sized pieces of butter are visible. Don’t over process the dough as the more you mix it, the more gluten is formed, resulting in a tougher crust.
Work the dough as fast as you can. The longer you work with the dough, the warmer and stickier it gets. Butter will melt during the process and make it harder for you to work with the dough. Solution: chill the dough before rolling it out and work the dough as quickly as possible. If the dough has been refrigerated for more than a few hours, you may need to let it rest for 10-15 minutes before it’s soft enough to roll out.
Generously flour your work surface before rolling out the dough. Flour both hands and a rolling pin to prevent them from being sticky to the dough.
Use dried beans or pie weights during baking the crust. They will help prevent the crust from forming air pockets that bubble up or shrink as it cooks so that it holds its shape and stays firmly in the pie pan.
BLIND BAKING PIE CRUST
Blind-baking or pre baking means to partially or completely bake the pie crust before filling it. Blind baking also helps to prevent a soggy bottom crust when making pies with fruit filling or any filling that takes less time to cook than the crust itself. Using some pie weights, dry beans or uncooked rice will help weight down the dough so it can keep its shape during baking time. After pre-baking the crust, you can remove the pie weights/dried beans/uncooked rice, then add the filling and bake until it’s set.
Perfect Pie Crust
- 2 1/2 cups (325g) all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon (5g) salt
- 1 tablespoon (15g) granulated sugar
- 1 cup (2 sticks/226 grams) cold butter, cut into small cubes
- 6-8 tablespoons (90-120 ml) very cold water
- Combine flour, salt, and sugar in a food processor and pulse for a few seconds until combined (If you don’t have a food processor, you can do the whole process by hand in a mixing bowl). Add cold butter cubes and pulse until mixture becomes crumbly and resembles coarse meal. Add 4 tablespoons of cold water and pulse a few times to combine, adding more water as needed, one tablespoon at a time and keep pulsing until the dough starts to form. The dough at this time should be quite crumbly but still can hold together when you pinch it with your fingers. Do not process to the point that a large ball of dough is formed.
- Transfer the dough to a floured surface and form into a ball. Divide the ball into half then use your hand to flatten each one slightly to form a 1-inch thick disc. Wrap each disc with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 1 hour before rolling it out.
- Place a disc of dough on a floured surface. Use a rolling pin dusted with flour, rolling outwards from the center of the dough with an even pressure to make a large circle, leaving a 1-inch overhang. Trim excess dough if needed. Refrigerator for at least 15 minutes before baking. Once the dough is chilled, prick the dough all over with a fork.
- Blind bake pie crust: Preheat the oven to 350°F/175°C. Remove the pie crust from the refrigerator and place on a baking sheet. Carefully line the pie dough with parchment paper, then fill with pie weights, dried beans or uncooked rice. Bake the crust for 15-20 minutes until golden brown. Remove from the oven, then remove the parchment paper and pie weights/dried beans and set aside to cool while preparing the filling.
- If you want to only use 1/2 this recipe, wrap the leftover of pie dough in plastic wrap and freeze it for up to 2 months. Thaw it overnight in the fridge before using.