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Homemade Pie Crust or Die Trying
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Bill Eaton

PostPosted: Fri May 12, 2006 3:48 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Cook's Illustrated has the best recipe for pie crust I've ever had. It is awesome. This recipe is also in a cookbook that the Cook's Illustrated guys put out called the Classic Cookbook.

The biggest downside to this recipe is that it takes a while to make. Usually it takes me about two days. But the result is well worth it. One of the principles of pie crust is to work the dough as little as possible.

I found this recipe after Googling "Cook's Illustrated pie recipe". I think some of the chilling times have been shortened. But most of the stuff is there.

I love good pie. There are only two places in the world I know of that have good pie. And I'm told one of them is now out of business. This pie crust rivals the best I've ever tested.

2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
2 Tablespoons sugar
3/4 cup (a stick and a half) unsalted butter, chilled, cut into 1/4 inch cubes
1/2 cup of all-vegetable shortening (8 Tbsp)
6-8 Tablespoons ice water


1 Mix flour, salt, and sugar in a food processor fitted with a steel blade. Scatter butter pieces over flour mixture. Toss to coat the butter with a little of the flour. Cut butter into the flour mixture with 5 one second pulses. Add shortening (a tablespoonful at a time, not one big hunk of shortening) and cut into mixture with about 4 more one second pulses. The mixture should resemble coarse cornmeal, with butter bits no bigger than peas. Turn mixture into a mixing bowl.

2 Sprinkle 6 tablespoons of ice water over flour mixture. Using the blade of a rubber spatula, press down on the dough, using a folding motion, until the dough sticks together. Add up to 2 more tablespoons of ice water if the dough will not come together. Do not over-knead the dough! Divide the dough into 2 balls and flatten each into 4 inch wide disks. Dust the disks lightly with flour, wrap each in plastic, and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes, or up to 2 days before rolling out.

3 After the dough has chilled in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes, you can take it out to roll. If it is too stiff, you may need to let it sit for 10 minutes at room temperature before rolling. Sprinkle a little flour on a flat work surface and the top half of one of the disks of dough. (We use a Tupperware pastry sheet that has the pie circles already marked.) Using a rolling pin, apply light pressure while rolling outwards from the center. Every once in a while you may need to use a metal spatula or a pastry scraper to gently lift under the dough to make sure it is not sticking to the rolling surface. You have a big enough piece of dough when you place the pie tin or pie dish upside down on the dough and the dough extends by at least 2 inches all around.

4 When the dough has reached the right size, gently fold it in half and then in half again. Lift up the dough and place the folded point of the dough in the exact center of your pie dish. Gently unfold. Lift the edge of the dough with one hand while easing the pastry along the bottom of the dish with the other hand. Do not stretch the dough.

5a If you are only making a single crust pie, use a pair of kitchen scissors to trim the dough to within 1/2 inch of the lip of the dish. Tuck the overhang underneath itself along the edge of the pie dish. Use the tines of a fork to crimple the edge of the pie crust.

5b If you are making a double crust pie, roll out the second disk of dough. Use a pastry scraper to help gently roll the dough around the rolling pin. Unroll the dough from the rolling pin over the fruit-filled pie, centering the dough correctly on the pie. Use a kitchen scissors to trim the overhang to an inch over.

pie-edging.gifFold the edge of the top piece of dough over and under the edge of the bottom piece of dough, pressing together.

pie-crimping.gifFinish the double crust by pressing against the edges of the pie with your finger tips or with a fork.

6 Use a sharp knife to cut vents into the top of the pie crust, so the steam has a place to escape while the pie is cooking. Optional Before scoring, you may want to paint the top of your crust with an egg wash (this will make a nice finish). Take one egg yolk and whisk it with a teaspoon of milk. Use a basting brush to spread evenly over the pastry crust.
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PostPosted: Fri May 19, 2006 11:52 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Try substituting orange juice for the water. I'm not a great cook, but can make pie crust.
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Joined: 19 May 2006
Posts: 26

PostPosted: Fri May 19, 2006 3:48 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sorry but I have to reply.
Your all engineers (or have minds like one) BUT you use cups???
These things should be scaled by weight.

a cup of flour doesn't give you enough to work out how to do it properly.

If the cup lightly packed and unsifted
unpacked and unsifted
Sifted and lightly packed
siftend and unpacked.
All of these will give you different amounts of flour.

Use an accurate scale it will give you a more consistant crust.
Pastries is an art of science, a science that required accuracy at every moment.

Sorry, I had to say it!!
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Joined: 12 Aug 2006
Posts: 1
Location: FLORIDA

PostPosted: Sat Aug 12, 2006 7:54 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

WOW...pie crust is a hot topic......I could not make pie crust for the same reasons......despite being a good cook....until my 80 year old neighbor invited me over for instruction...use cold water...a fork....and crisco brand shortening

the biggest thing that turned around my pie crusts was using a pastry cloth to roll out on....(or a large smooth/heavy/cotton napkin)dusted with just did not stick....and I did not have to incorporate too much extra flour which would toughen, the cloth makes transfer much of luck...let me know if you try it......JoAnne
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PostPosted: Wed Nov 26, 2008 1:33 am    Post subject: PIE CRUST Reply with quote

I read your answers because I was having the same problem, but I didn't want to start over with a new batch so I finally got ahold of one of "the Good Cooks" back home and they said more water. It has to be ice water, but my recipe said 3-4 TBLS. and they said 5-7 TBLS. I added water by sprinkling and mixing and it came out great.
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Joined: 22 Dec 2008
Posts: 1

PostPosted: Mon Dec 22, 2008 4:07 am    Post subject: my recipy olive oil crust alwase flakey Reply with quote

This is what I do its a mod of th betty crocker recipe 1978 cookbook
i use a 9 inch deep dish pirex pan
and a hand mixer before water is added.
The crust dose not crack when rolled as directed and patchwork shouldn't be needed.

Bottom crust
1cup 1/2 cup 3 tablespoons unbleached sifted flour
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
mix and place in freezer to cool (about 10-20min)

1/2 cup extra light tasting olive oil(i ususaly use carapelii extra light in taste) DO NOT USE Extra virgin or virgin only extra light in taste.
i go about 1mm under 1/2 cup so it doesn't spill
stick that in the freezer

top crust
1cup 2 tablespoons sifted unbleached flour
1/3 cup extra light tasting olive oil
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar (sprinkle on top right before baking)
same instructions as above

use 2 tablespoons then adding 1 teaspoon at a time thereafter until sticky when told to add 3 below.

place a partly full cup of water in the freezer metal or rubbermade no glass.

once the sides of the olive oil begin to set up remove and mix the oiive oil in to the flour with a hand mixer on med.

If it doesn't form small balls (1mm to 1cm) add 1 level tablespoon more flower and chill again and then mix.

Until you add water, you really cant over mix it or, destroy the flakiness

Add 3 tablespoons of water sprinkling over the top of the balls with bare hands form in to a ball it will be sticky.
If its too cold ice may form watch for this on the first tablespoon and stop and let it sit for a few min before continuing.

At this point i gently mash it together a little by now it wont be sticky

Flour some parchment paper well on both sides and lay on table top press out the ball until its about 1/2 inch thick pinch in the sides to stop cracks from forming

Flour the top and then place waxed paper over the top and roll the right side once and rotate 1/5 turn and repeat.

by rotating and rolling it round like this the edges will not crack and you wont need to patch. when its about 2 to 4mm thick and at least 1 1/2 inches bigger around than a deep dish pyrex pie pan your done

roll up the dough and top waxed paper on the rolling pin and roll it back out over the pie plate.

form it to the pie plate wrap edges in aluminum foil and fill bake as directed for the filling remove foil for the last 1/4 of the time

do not reform scraps in to another ball for rolling in to another crust instead dip in sugar and bake until light brown. recycling will destroy the flakes

The science behind keeping everything very cold is the oil will resist mixing with the water and will guard the flour with a iron fist from the water when cold.
The water is just to stick the balls of fat and flour together. it serves no other purpose.
Its this oil/flour water/flour oil/flour layers that happen that create the flakes.
Some people suggest adding egg this counters the idea of keeping the water and oil separate and will help the oil and water mix witch isn't good for flakes, I've never done it or tried it.

btw I've used this recipe many times not one failure, but the last time today I made it a small 1 inch peace of the center of my bottom crust floated to the top of the pumpkin pie. I've never seen this happen before everything else seams to have turned out fine. the oven didnt turn on at first and it sat for 30 min before I got it turned on, anyone else had this happen to them?
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Joined: 01 Dec 2008
Posts: 14

PostPosted: Wed Dec 24, 2008 10:26 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

This is a great way to make the pastry. Give it a try:

Puff Pastry - The Scotch Method - The Original Pastry

1 part flour (1kg)
1/4 or 1/3 fat that’s been frozen where ¼ =250g etc

1-tablespoon salt
2 cups or more of ice water
¼ to ½ cup of fresh lemon juice or white vinegar
1 egg yolk

Mix in a bowl - NB: mix water & egg first

Grate the frozen fat then mix with flour till all the fat is coated with flour.
Do Not mix so that the fat melts or merges with the flour !!!

Then slowly add the rest of the mix.

Note: The layering of the pastry is achieved by how one grates the fat.
For example, The finer you grate the fat (the less mixing) the less layering, & the rougher you grate the fat the more layering.

As is with almost all pastries, a relaxing or resting time of 30 - 60 minutes is required. Ideally, after making your dough, place it in the cold room, in a bowl or dish, covered only with a clean dish towel. Do not seal the dough off by wrapping it in plastic or sealing it in a container. Covering it with a cloth allows the pastry to breathe as well as prevents any moisture build-up, where if your pastry is stored wrapped or sealed, depending on storage and cooling conditions, a moisture build-up can occur when removed from cooling.

This is the perfect puff recipe to use with our blocking process. Its also the easiest, less temperamental, most cost effective in terms of labour, & taste/texture wise if done correctly is no different to puff pastry that requires rolling or sheeting.

Or for a basic puff pastry, this works well too:

1/2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons ice water, or more if needed
8 tablespoons unsalted butter cut into 1/4-inch pieces & frozen
4 tablespoons shortening - frozen

Mix flour and salt. Add the butter pieces into the flour mixture, coating the butter with a little flour. Cut butter into flour. Add shortening. Continue cutting in until flour is a light yellow colour and resembles coarse cornmeal.

Turn out mixture into a medium bowl.

Sprinkle 3 tablespoons ice water over mixture. Use a spatula to fold water into the flour mixture. Press down on dough mixture with broad side of spatula until dough sticks together. If the dough does not stick together add up to 1 tablespoon more water. Shape dough into a ball using your hands, then flatten into a 4-inch-wide circle. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for 30 minutes while you prepare your pie filling.

Roll dough on a floured surface and cut to the required size. Line your pie foils, fill with filling and add lids. Prick lids for venting during the baking process.
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Joined: 16 Sep 2009
Posts: 58
Location: Illinois

PostPosted: Wed Oct 28, 2009 10:03 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Wow its so nice reading bunch of ideas here. I am having good time reading these article. thanks for posting.
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Joined: 06 Feb 2010
Posts: 2

PostPosted: Mon Feb 08, 2010 4:30 am    Post subject: Pie Crust Recipe Options Reply with quote

Test Kitchen recipe for pie crust on their TV show added 1 tbsp. of vodka after all regular ingredients were added including water to add more moisture for easier rolling where the mixture wouldn't crumble after refrigeration. Their proven theory is that the alcohol cooks off.

In my own recipe I add 1/4 tsp. of baking power to double crust dough. This causes a bit more rise and crisp flakiness to the dough. Would work with any puff pastry type of recipe for pie crust.
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Joined: 17 Feb 2010
Posts: 16

PostPosted: Thu Feb 25, 2010 7:32 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

If you watch the Japanese cartoon or read the Manga "Yakitate!" there's a chick in there who's a cold hearted B.. And her hands are suppose to be so ice cold that she's the perfect dessert maker.. She fold butter around the flour, not the other way around!

Yes it's a manga, but what you can learn from this is, if you do dunk your hands in cold water for a minute before you work on the pie crust, you won't heat it up. And yes, "cold water" is a misnomer, you need ICE water. Your I find that working on granite or marble countertops to produce superior pie crusts simply because it helps to keep the pie crust cold.

And my last suggestion, don't over work it.
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Joined: 24 Nov 2009
Posts: 6

PostPosted: Sat Feb 27, 2010 8:48 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Reliable pie crust is simple, just follow the pics in this tutorial. You do need a food processor though...

Takes only a few minutes and needs lard (shortening) and cooking margarine/butter both from the fridge.

Resting the pastry in a plastic bag in the refrigerator for 20 minutes also helps to add strength.
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Joined: 15 Mar 2010
Posts: 4
Location: Staunton, VA

PostPosted: Mon Mar 15, 2010 1:52 pm    Post subject: Pie Crust Reply with quote

This is my best... been making it for over 45 years, and get many compliments each time I make it... I call it Perfect Pie Crust...
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Joined: 15 Mar 2010
Posts: 4
Location: Staunton, VA

PostPosted: Mon Mar 15, 2010 1:54 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I forgot to add... I took pictures, so it's also a tutorial, of sorts. Hope this is helpful. Unsure
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PostPosted: Wed Jul 07, 2010 2:34 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I have never had a problem making crust by hand the old fashioned way. But, recently bought my first food processor (Cuisinart) and I can't make crust with it to save my life.
Every crust that I have attempted has been a crumbled mess. I think I may not be adding enough water, I read that when using a food processor to use less water than when mixing by hand.
Anyone know if that is true? When I make my favorite double crust recipe by hand I would use 6-7 tablespoons of ice water. Both crusts that I tried with the food processor I used about 4 tablespoons. Is that my problem?
I do well chill the shortening and use ice water, chill the dough before rolling out.
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Joined: 19 Oct 2007
Posts: 1197
Location: central PA

PostPosted: Wed Jul 07, 2010 5:11 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I gave up on using a food processor. granted I rarely make more than one pie at a time - but I found it (a) didn't work so well and (b) took more time to drag it out and clean it up than doing things the ole fashioned way.

the amount of water need will vary a bit - and that's a very tricky thing to judge in the food processor.
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