Yes, making pie from scratch can be intimidating. Martha Stewart always made it look so easy that it forces you to feel inadequate. We understand. But here’s the deal. Once you feel comfortable making pie crust, you can do it in about 7 seconds and it opens up a whole world of snack time treats–sweet, savory, a little of both. This is a total gateway technique.
Preparing pie dough from scratch can be simple. (And we’re not saying that in that ol’ “I can do this and you’ve got to be a moron if you can’t” sort of way.) Here are a few essential rules to follow if you want to master that perfect pie crust.
Start with a Recipe: You think this is a given, but it’s not. We don’t all love to cook by the numbers, but pie crust requires accuracy. Whether you prefer a flakey shortening-based recipe or a buttery one, measure out your ingredients before combining them and you’ll be a lot happier with the results. A really basic one is 1 ½ cups of flour, ½ cup of unsalted butter, 1 teaspoon of sugar, ¼ teaspoon of salt with 4-5 Tablespoons of water mixed in.
Freeze Your Butter: If you’re like me and you want a buttery crust, you’re going to start with a recipe that calls for butter. (no duh, right?) If it’s a good recipe it will call for cold butter. Take that adjective seriously. Toss your butter into the freezer for 30-60 minutes before using it. Then, it will stay together in nice little pebbles throughout the dough rather than getting fully incorporated. This gives the final product the texture you’re looking for.
Drizzle in Ice Water Gradually: You’re seeing a pattern here aren’t you? That descriptor “ice” is not just a suggestion. Using ice water allows that butter to stay cold and intact. By drizzling in the ice water, you can be sure avoid preparing sticky dough that’s difficult to maneuver.
Avoid Over Mixing: Whether you dump all of your ingredients into a food processor (which we recommend for the sake of ease) or mix them by hand, it’s important to understand when the dough has “come together”. This language, often used in pie recipes, is sometimes problematic. Dough has come together at the exact moment when you can pinch it into a ball. If it is already homogenous and not at all crumbly, you have gone too far.
Give it a Rest: You can relax too, but it’s the dough we’re talking about here. Wrap your freshly prepared dough in plastic wrap, make it into a disc shape and place it into the fridge for a at least 30 minutes before rolling it out. This gives it time to chill–and we all need a bit more of that in our lives!