How to Make the Most Perfect Homemade Pie Crust from Scratch. Tender, Flaky Layers and a Rich and Buttery Flavor. No Partially Hydrogenated Oils or Artificial Ingredients. A Step-by-Step Tutorial with Pictures.
Many of you, especially those who follow on Facebook, know that I have been pretty under the weather for the last few weeks. First I had surgery, and then I guess my immune system must have been weakened from all that, so I got hammered with a flu-type bug that knocked me out of commission for another 2 1/2 or so weeks. Ugh! When it rains it pours, I suppose.
Well, all of this laying around and recuperating has meant one thing for me: tv.
I’m not normally much of a tv person. I mean, the tv is always on around my house, don’t get me wrong. But usually it’s tuned in to Paw Patrol, Max and Ruby, or Peppa Pig.
When it’s not kid-tv, it’s sports. Mr. Allie is the biggest sports freak in all the land, and he’s happy as a lark to keep the tv on ESPN 24/7.
So, for most of the day, I busy myself with other things. At the end of a full day, I like to flip over to Food Network or Cooking Channel, and zone out to a recipe show or two.
These last few weeks have afforded me a lot more time for that sort of thing, and I’ve really had the opportunity to analyze the programming on these channels. This is what I’ve found: during the day, there are so many great shows on both Food Network and Cooking Channel. I mean, I love it. There’s nothing better than watching a lovely person in their spotless and airy kitchen, cooking up fabulous treats, and talking to you like you’re best friends from way back. It’s so comforting! Like, yes, I think you’re wonderful, and you want to cook for me? I’d love to watch you cook for me…
At around 5:30 pm, something changes. All of a sudden, all the lovely ladies and kitchens go away, and suddenly things get really aggressive and competition-y. This is not comforting. At all. I do not like all the fighting and clock-ticking and challenging and eliminating. This is no longer enjoyable. I’m now sitting on the edge of my seat and tense and worried, and where did all the yummy recipes go???
This is not what I come to Food Network and Cooking Channel for.
Food Network and Cooking Channel, please take note: lots of us can’t/don’t watch tv during the daytime. But we like recipe shows! Not game shows!
All that being said, I really enjoyed a show that aired a few nights ago. It was all about pie. Sigh! Pie. So comforting. So old-timey. Such tradition, and such a great way to take all that love that is just bursting out of your heart, put it in a dish, and feed it to your family.
And at this time of year, we all have our eyes on pies, as we are hurtling headlong into Thanksgiving baking, and what is arguably the most pie-centric time of the year.
So, I thought this would be a good time for me to share my absolute favorite pie crust recipe and method.
Pie crust can often be a bit challenging, but over the years I’ve worked out a formula that I love, and I think you will too! It’s pretty simple, although there is a bit of down time while it chills, and the result is always flaky, tender, buttery, and delish!
All-butter pie crust sounds just wonderful, but I have found that it’s often a bit tough. A little bit of vegetable shortening goes a long way to tenderize the pie crust. Shortening = Tender; Butter = Flaky. A little bit of both has always been the way to go, for me.
That is, until Robin Roberts had to go and rain all over my pie crust parade, alerting me to the reality that trans fats are even worse for our health than originally thought, and all things partially hydrogenated are likely to be banned from supermarket shelves in the very near future. This got me thinking about substitutions, and I remembered about the olive oil sampler that was recently gifted to me by Oregon Olive Mill. I gave each of their three varieties a taste, and found the Arbequina to have a lovely, light and floral flavor that would complement a sweet filling in such a beautiful way. Just a few tablespoonfuls added to the flour and salt, stirred in until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs, and you have a heart-healthier pie crust with all the tenderness of your granny’s classic.
When the dough comes together into a ball, divide it into two equal portions, and give each one a quick roll, to a thickness of about 1/4 inch. Then fold into thirds, like a letter, give it a quarter turn and another fold, and roll again. Refrigerate for about an hour. All this folding and rolling is what makes the gorgeous flaky layers. It’s perfection.
Be sure to keep everything really cold while you’re working. You don’t want those layers of butter to soften or melt. They should be cold when they go into the oven, so steam is released and the layers open up. It’s a lot like puff pastry.
At this point the dough can be frozen. I often make my crusts a few weeks before Thanksgiving and freeze them, just to make the holiday prep a little easier on myself. They can be defrosted in the refrigerator a day or two before you’re ready to roll them out. Or, if you have the room in your freezer, you can roll and place in the pie pan, and freeze it that way.
This recipe makes enough for two single crust pies, or one double crust. Or you could do a lattice top pie! So pretty…
The proof is in the pudding! This is the mark of true pie crust success, to me:
Can you even get over those flaky layers???
- 2½ cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
- ½ cup unsalted butter, cold
- approx. ⅓ cup ice water
- Combine the flour and salt in a large bowl.
- Add the olive oil, and stir until the mixture resembles coarse meal.
- Cut the butter into thin slices and toss in the flour mixture to coat.
- Dribble ice water in, a tablespoon at a time, mixing just until the mixture can hold it’s shape.
- Gather the dough into a ball, and divide into two disks. Wrap the disks tightly, and refrigerate for at least an hour.
- Roll the dough out to ¼” thickness, and fold into thirds. Fold into thirds again and refrigerate for another hour, or freeze for later use.
- If frozen, thaw the dough in the refrigerator overnight. Unwrap the dough and roll to about two inches larger than the diameter of the pie plate.
- Slip the dough into the ungreased pie plate, and prick with a fork. Refrigerate while preparing the filling.
- Fill the pie shell with desired filling, and refrigerate for at least one hour before baking.
- Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F, place the cold pie in the oven, and decrease the temperature to 350 degrees F.
- Baking time will vary according to pie filling. Crust should be a deep golden color, and flaky.
Next time I’m going to show you my favorite apple pie filling. It’s so good! I mean it’s basic but all the important stuff is there, and you can dress it up with whatever fancy ideas you might have (salted caramel, just sayin’). I love how it’s totally stuffed to capacity with the most juicy apples, that are firm and toothsome, not mushy or watery. Just wait! You’re going to love it!
PS- If you are looking to stock your recipe box with some really stellar basic recipes, you came to the right place! I’ve been baking for, ahem, 20-some odd years, cough-cough, so I’ve played with lots of recipes. Check out these other recipes from my “Simply Perfect” series (just click the pic to view the recipe):
*This post was Featured on BlogHer*