Just like the painter ties your dinghy to the dock a good pie crust is what ties a pie together. There are many myths going around about the difficulty of making pie crust. Just like everything, it’s simple… once you know how to do it.
Every baker has their tricks to a perfect light flaky pie crust. I’ll do my best to talk you through it.
The most important things are keeping the mixture cold and not working it too much. The trick is make sure as little gluten builds up as much as possible.
Painter Perfect Pie Crust
- 3 c flour
- 1 c butter
- 1 t salt
- 5 T ice water
- Put flour and salt into food processor.
- Cut your (cold) butter into table-spoon-sized chunks
- Pulse the food processor in about 5 2-second bursts or until mixture forms pea-sized lumps*
- Use hands to mix butter and flour until butter forms pea-sized lumps
- Add ¼ c ice-cold water sprinkling over mixture
- Mix in, working as little as possible, until dough forms a cohesive ball
*Alternately, f you do not have a food processor on board (I don’t) use kitchen knives to cut the butter into the flour mixture. Run cold water over your hands or hold ice until your hands are very cold. Dry hands.
Gluten only forms when you add water, so your chief mixing is before you add the water. Why do you stop with pea sized lumps, you might ask. Well, because having different materials, some flour with butter in between, are what makes your pie crust tender and flaky. In other words, you don’t want your pie crust too well mixed or it will turn out as tough as cardboard.
Now I am a fan of the traditional butter piecrust. It tastes better to me and gives great flaky layers. You can use shortening which is easier to work with, or a mix of half-butter and half-shortening.
Just remember the cardinal rule:
Cold hands + Cold butter + Ice water = flakey pie crust