Whether it’s pumpkin pie, peach pie, pecan pie or Grandma’s secret family recipe everyone has their own favorite pie. Here are our secret (and maybe not so secret) tips to getting a perfect homemade pie crust every time.
Mixing the Dough
Mix together the dry ingredients first.
The size of your butter chunks determines the size of your pastry flake. Larger chunks of butter gives bigger flakes because the moisture turns the butter into steam, puffing up that area of the pastry where as small chunks of butter give a tenderflake style pastry that’s more crumbly than flaky.
For the flakiest pie crust use frozen unsalted butter. Using a food processor mix the flour and salt, cut the butter into 1 inch chunks. Add to the mix and process until the butter is chopped into small pieces. Adding the add ice water, pulse a few times, then gather up the dough and roll into a ball.
If using a stand mixer, chill the bowl for a few minutes before using
If mixing by hand, you will need to keep your hands cold and work quickly so that your fingers don’t warm the butter. One way to do this is to have a previously frozen baking tray next to you. As your hands warm up, place them on the tray for a few seconds to cool down.
Don’t overwork your dough. Overworking causes the dough to become tough and shrink while baking. You should only mix the dough enough for it to just start coming together then shape by hand into a ball.
For flavorful and tender pie crust substitute orange juice for your ice water. The flavor adds a tang to the crust and the acidity cuts the gluten that tends to make the pastry tough.
Rolling Out The Dough
Cold dough is stiffer and easier to roll out so chill in the fridge for about 15 minutes before rolling.
By shaping the dough into a disc instead of a ball before chilling it will make the dough easier to roll out when ready
Test the firmness of your rested dough before you rolling by pressing the disk with your fingers. It should leave a slight imprint if it is ready. Pastry that’s too cold will crack when rolled and if its too soft will stick to your surface.
To help keep your surface cool:
Countertop – place ice packs wrapped in kitchen towels or a baking sheet full of ice on your surface until you are ready to roll dough
Cutting Board – place cutting board and rolling pin in the freezer until you are ready to use
When rolling the dough make sure it is large enough to cover your pan without stretching the pastry. Pastry that has been stretched will shrink back during baking. It’s also a good idea to add an additional ¼ inch to the crust size, this way if the pastry does shrink back during the bake it will still nicely line the edge of your pan.
Sprinkle just enough flour on your surface to keep it from sticking. In fact using confectioners’ sugar instead of flour for rolling will not only prevent sticking but has the added bonus of added bonus of browning the pastry more during baking and doesn’t dry out or toughen it.
If the dough cracks while rolling just patch it up. Re-rolling at this stage will make the dough tough.
Try rolling the dough between 2 silicon baking mats or sheets of waxed paper.
Roll around the clock for an even shape. Roll towards 12 o’clock, 6, 3, and 9 then work clockwise around each hour until your dough is the correct size and thickness
Roll in one direction NOT back and forth as that toughens the dough
Baking the pie
Use a metal or ceramic pie dish not a glass dish for baking. Glass pans are perfect for pie crusts that don’t need baking.
To pre-bake or blind bake the pie crust, prick the base with a fork (stops the pastry from bubbling) , cover with a round of parchment paper that you weigh down with dry beans, pie weights (or even pennies). Place on the bottom rack of a hot (425F) and check every few minutes.
To prevent soggy bottoms with pies that don’t need pre baking, as you are heating the oven, put baking sheet in to heat at the same time. Once the oven is hot, set the pie directly on the hot baking sheet. The crust will begin to cook on contact.
Prevent burnt edges by cutting strips of foil or cutting the out center of a disposable pie tin. Place on top of the crust if the edges are starting to brown too deeply.
Summer Pie Baking Tips
It’s the middle of summer but you need pie! So how do you combat the heat to get a perfect pie crust?
- keep a pitcher of ice water in the fridge
- chill your ingredients and equipment
- freeze the butter and grate instead of cutting
- make your pie in the morning when the temperatures are lower
For post baking troubleshooting tips you can read Perfect Pie Crust Troubleshooting Tips
If you have tips of your own or that have been passed down in your family, we’d love to hear them below.