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Eatsy: How to Make Homemade Pie Crust

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I’ll admit, I’m not a huge summer-lover. I flourish wearing cozy sweaters, curling up with a cup of tea, and cuddling with my pup when it’s cold out. But seeing as seasons change with no regard to my preferences (how dare they!), I’ve decided to be super-excited about putting summer’s delicious fruit to good use and baking up my favorite pies.

If you’ve never made your own pie crust before, it does have its challenges, but the extra effort is definitely worth it. There is much debate as to what fat one should use: shortening, lard, butter or a combination. My personal preference is good quality butter; it yields a flaky crust with a delicious, well, buttery flavor that works ridiculously well when paired with tart, sweet fruit.

What you’ll need:

2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons white granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon fine-grain sea salt
2 sticks unsalted butter, frozen
3/4 cups very cold water, divided

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Start by mixing all of the dry ingredients together: all-purpose flour, sugar and salt. If you’re making a savory pie (meat hand pies, anyone?), I’d recommend leaving out the sugar and upping the salt to 1 teaspoon.

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Next — and this is my favorite part — use a box grater to shred in the frozen butter. The end goal is to get pea-sized pieces of butter. This helps get you there sooner without over-handling the butter and flour.

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Using your hands, quickly break up the butter into smaller bits and be sure it’s thoroughly distributed throughout the flour mixture. Create a well in the center and pour in 1/2 cup of cold water (no ice cubes!).

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Mix using your hands or a wooden spoon. You’ll notice at this point that the mixture will be shaggy; add a tablespoon of water at a time until the mixture comes together.

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Liberally flour your work surface and knead the dough a few times just until it comes together. Be sure not to over-knead; that will result in a tough crust.

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Form the dough into a disc and divide it in two.

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Wrap each disc in plastic wrap and transfer it to the fridge for 1 hour or up to 1 week.

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Chilling the dough in the refrigerator is important because it does three things:

  • It gives the gluten a chance to relax.
  • It allows moisture to evenly redistribute throughout the dough.
  • The buttery bits re-chill, making the little fat pockets which ultimately create a flakey crust.
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When the dough is done chilling, liberally flour your work surface and your rolling pin. Using your rolling pin, press the dough down and move it from the center outward.

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Next, lift the dough up off your work surface and rotate it a quarter-turn. Continue to roll, lift and rotate a few times, being sure to flour your work surface and rolling pin as needed.

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Since most pie tins are 8″ or 9″ in diameter, roll the pie dough into a 12-inch circle. You could measure it if you have a trusty ruler handy, or you could just eye-ball it by flipping your pie tin and hovering it over the rolled out pie crust.

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To transfer the pie crust, use your rolling pin to wrap it around and lay it over the pie tin.

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Gently press it into the pan.

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Use a sharp paring knife to trim any excess pie crust.

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To crimp the edges, use your thumb as a place holder to keep the inner edge of the pie crust in place. Use your opposite hand’s thumb and index finger and form the crust around the thumb, creating the classic v-shaped crimped edge. Repeat this process until the entire pie crust has those pretty crimped edges all the way around.

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If there are any holes or rough spots that need a little love, patch up any holes or rough looking areas in the pie crust with the scraps. Score the bottom of the pie crust using a fork and transfer to the freezer for 30 minutes. This will ensure the pie crust doesn’t shrink when it hits the hot oven. While the pie crust is in the freezer, preheat your oven to 400? Fahrenheit.

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If your recipe calls for a par-baked pie crust, start by brushing the edges with egg wash. Line the pie crust with foil or parchment paper and then fill it with beans, rice or metal pie weights. If you’re making a pie with stone fruit or apples, usually you don’t need to par-bake the crust.

Roll out the second disc of dough and use it as a pie topping. Brush the entire pie with egg wash, sprinkle it with turbinado sugar and bake according to your recipe’s instructions.

Happy pie baking!

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Homemade Pie Crust

2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons white granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon fine-grain sea salt
2 sticks unsalted butter, frozen
3/4 cups very cold water, divided

1. In a large bowl, mix together the flour, sugar and salt. Using a box grater, grate the cold butter atop the flour mixture. Working quickly, and using your hands, break the butter bits into the flour until they’re evenly distributed and resemble the size of small peas. Add 1/2 cup of water and mix. The mixture will be shaggy at this point. From here, add 1 tablespoon of water at a time until the dough comes together. I ended up adding about 5 more tablespoons of water, equaling to 3/4 cup. Flour your counter and dump the dough onto it. Knead a few times more until it comes together and divide the dough, forming two discs. Wrap both discs in plastic wrap and transfer to the refrigerator to chill for 1 hour or overnight.

2. Remove one of the discs of dough from the refrigerator. Liberally flour your work surface and rolling pin. Begin to roll the dough, being sure to rotate it every so often to avoid sticking, to a 14-inch round. Wrap the dough around the rolling pin and unroll it over the pie tin. Gently fit the dough into the bottom and up the sides of the pie tin. Trim the dough around the pie tin and using your thumb and forefinger, crimp the rim of the crust into a v-shape. Transfer the pie crust to the refrigerator to chill for 30 minutes. Roll out the second disc of dough and use as you like, whether it’s as a top to your pie, decorated cut-outs or an elaborate pie trim.

All photos by Adrianna Adarme.

Adrianna Adarme is a recipe blogger and content producer living in Los Angeles. She writes the blog A Cozy Kitchen, where she shares comforting, easy, everyday recipes from her kitchen.