Step-by-step directions for making pie crust, with photos for each step.
As promised earlier in the week, here’s how I make pie crusts with photos! There are many ways to make a pie crust, and I’ve used them all at one time or another. But this is my favorite way – especially for a buttery crust like this one.
A Few Cooking Tips
If it’s a warm day, and/or your kitchen is warm, you will have the best results if you place the flour, butter, food processor bowl and blade all in the freezer for 15 minutes before starting to make the dough, to keep the dough cooler longer as you begin to work with it. The warmer the dough, the more difficult it is to work with.
I highly recommend weighing flour when baking. It’s much more accurate than measuring it out in a measuring cup. If you bake much at all, a digital scale may be the best thing you buy this year. If you don’t have one (yet), I assume that 1 cup equals 4.5 ounces. To measure flour with a measuring cup, first fluff the flour with a fork and then spoon the flour into the cup. The dipping method, which I used for many years, packs more flour into a recipe than either the weighing or fluffing/spooning methods, and trust me, you will taste the difference.
I like King Arthur flour for its consistency.
If you’re not using kosher salt, cut the salt amount in half.
Handle and work the dough as little as possible in order to keep it from getting too tough. The more you work the dough, the more gluten is developed, and the tougher it becomes.
I pulse the dough in the food processor only until the dough begins to hold together when pinched. Once this happens, I immediately empty the food processor bowl onto a cold work space to finish it up. Too much work in the food processor can make the dough too tough. This part can also be done by hand with two knives instead of a food processor.
If the flour mixture starts to have a yellow tint, it’s a sign that the butter has been worked too thoroughly into the flour. Stop working the mixture. Add the liquid, and move on as quickly as possible.
I always add some kind of vinegar to all my pie crusts – this helps to keep the crust tender.
I like to roll my dough between wax paper for several reasons: 1) I end up using much less flour which keeps the crust more tender; 2) it holds together better during rolling, turning, and flipping; 3) I can drape it over a pie or tart pan so much more easily.
If at any time the dough becomes too soft to work with, put it in the freezer for 1 – 2 minutes. Pull it back out, making sure it’s not too brittle before working with it again. If it’s too brittle, just let it sit on the counter for a minute or two.
Step - by - Step Simple Pie Crust with Cheddar Cheese
- 10 ounces all-purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon finely ground black pepper
- 2 ounces cheddar cheese, grated
- 8 ounces cold unsalted butter
- 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
- 2 - 3 tablespoons ice water, or enough that the dough holds together when you pinch it with your fingers
Weigh the flour and grate the cheese.
Mix the flour, sugar, salt, pepper and cheddar cheese together the bowl of a food processor fitted with a blade. Pulse a few times to evenly disperse everything through the flour.
Slice the butter into thin slabs and add all at once to the food processor bowl.
Pulse until the consistency is about the size of peas (about 10-12 pulses). A great way to check the consistency is by scooping up some of it with a fork.
Add the cider vinegar and 2 tablespoons of ice water and pulse 8 - 10 times, until the dough just starts to hold together when you pinch it between your fingers. If the dough doesn't hold together, add additional ice water in small amounts.
Pour the contents of the food processor bowl out onto the counter or other work space. Knead the dough until it starts to hold together, and fraisage twice at the end.
Fraisage is a French technique of using the heel of your hand to shmeer out the dough in a long streak. This almost guarantees a flakey crust by creating alternating strands of dough and butter. You should be able to clearly see butter pieces within the flour dough being spread out.
Form the dough into a ball with your fingertips and divide the dough into double the number of pies / tarts you plan to make. So if you plan to make one big pie, divide the dough in two and form into discs. One disc should be larger than the other as you will need more dough for the pie bottom and sides than for the lattice. Wrap the discs in wax or plastic paper and chill in the refrigerator for 30 minutes while you make the pie filling.
Preheat the oven to the temperature called for in your recipe. Roll out the discs: there are a few ways to do this, but here's the easiest one I've ever found. Place a fresh sheet of wax paper on your work space. Place one of the discs on it and roll it out a few times.
Cover it with another fresh sheet of wax paper and roll the dough to the desired thickness.
After every few rolls, you may want to peel off one or both pieces of wax paper.
Lay the wax paper back down on the dough, flip the dough over, remove the other sheet of wax paper, replace it, and continue rolling. This method of rolling the dough between wax paper makes rolling quick work! And the less work you put on the dough, the more tender it will be in the end.
One pointer here, make sure you're always rolling from the middle and then outwards, and then turn the dough 45 degrees and roll again, always starting from the middle. And try not to roll over the edge of the dough as it will make the edges very thin. If the edges are too thin, it will be difficult to remove the wax paper without tearing the dough.
Once the dough is 1/8" thickness thick, check to make sure the dough circle is large enough,
peel off the wax paper from one side,
flip the dough over the pie plate,
The wax paper should come off pretty easily
and gently peel off the wax paper on the other side.
Carefully lift up the edges of the dough and tuck the dough down into the pie plate, taking care not to stretch it. Allow the dough to drape over the pie plate and cut off the excess with scissors or a knife.
Shape the edges into flutes, making sure the dough isn't hanging over the pie plate. If it is, it can droop and fall off the pie during the baking process due to all the butter. Pop the pie plate and dough into the freezer for 15 minutes before baking. Freezing pie crust before baking helps to keep the fluted shape.
Roll out the smaller disc of dough into a rectangle using the same wax paper process explained above. With a pizza slicer or a knife, slice into strips to be used for the lattice tops.
Fill the pie with the filling and lay down the strips, pressing the strip ends into the dough forming the bottoms and sides.
Bake as directed in the recipe.