how to: basic pie crust

I’ve been in charge of making the Thanksgiving pies for the past 3 years. I usually make either 4 or 5 pies depending on the amount of people who are attending. I started making pies in high school, and it still is one of my favorite desserts. In fact, I usually ask for pie for my birthday instead of cake. I use this pie crust recipe from chicken pot pie to sweet fruit pies. The key to it is cold butter. You want little bits of butter to be worked into the crust, which will then steam when baked creating a delicate, flaky crust. Before I start making the crust, I put my butter and flour in the freezer for about 15 minutes, which keeps it from getting too soft. Because I have to bake so many pies in such a short amount of time, I usually make the dough at least the day before. You can keep it in the fridge for a couple of days, or just pop it in the freezer for up to 3 months. This makes pie baking day a little less stressful because all of your dough is already made.

To make a 2 crust pie, you’ll need:

  • 2 1/2 cup flour, plus more for rolling out // Stick this in the freezer for at least 15 minutes
  • 2 sticks of butter, cut into cubes and frozen for about 15 minutes
  • pinch of salt
  • 4-8 tbsp of ice cold water // I fill a small bowl with cold water and put a few ice cubes in it.
  • food processor, or pasty cutter

Start by cutting in your butter into your flour + the salt. You can do this with either a food processor or a pastry cutter. You want the butter to end up being slightly smaller than peas. I usually put it in my food processor and pulse it about 5 times, but you can also do this by hand with a pastry cutter. Once it is done, it should look like this:

At this point, you will start adding in the water. I prefer to transfer it to a bowl and mix it with a fork. This allows you to see the exact moment when the dough comes together so you end up with the perfect consistency. Start by drizzling about 2 tbsp of water over the dough, and stir together with a fork. It will still be very crumbly if you try to form a ball:

Add another 2 tbsp of water, and stir with a fork. Again test it to see if it comes together. In this case, it hasn’t:

I added another 2 tbsp of water, and stirred again. This time my dough was ready. You can see that it maintains it shape, when I try to form a ball.

Dump about half of it onto a large sheet of plastic wrap. Use the edges of the plastic wrap to form it into a flat disk that is somewhat round.

Wrap it completely in plastic wrap. Repeat with the other half of the dough.

At this point you can either freeze it or place it in the refrigerator. If you are planning on using it the same day that you made it, you need to leave it in the fridge for at least 45 minutes. This allows the gluten to relax, which will make the dough so much easier to roll out.

If you decide to freeze the dough, let it thaw in the fridge overnight. Then roll out as usual.

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