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Ok you guys. Today let’s talk pie crust. Are you in the “all butter” pie crust camp, or “it’s shortening or nothing, baby”? And you may be one of those bakers that prefers the flexibility of using both ingredients.On the surface, pie crust doesn’t seem like such a complicated thing to bake. After all, it’s just flour, fat, and water, right? But those three simple ingredients combined in different ways in different amounts, yield lots of variations of the same tune.
- Use all-purpose flour. It’s got the right amount of protein in it to yield a light, flaky dough. If you use pastry flour, you’re gonna battle that thing to keep it from falling apart as you roll it.
- Use ice cold water. Literally. Add ice to your water before combining with the dough.
- Work the dough as little as possible. Handling the dough too much produces a tough crust. No bueno!
- Chill the butter or shortening before adding it to your flour. I actually freeze the butter I use, just to be sure that it’s not becoming too soft. Steam hitting a fat will make nice little pockets of flaky crust.
- Chill the crust before baking. This one is tough, I know. I have limited space in my kitchen as well as my fridge/freezer. My dream is to have a French door fridge with a pull out chilling drawer. A girl can dream, right??
- Make sure the oven temp is at the correct heat. I bought an oven thermometer because I was consistently getting inconsistent results from baking. At any given time, my oven can be off 5-10 degrees. I usually pre heat it for at least 30 minutes to make sure it’s at the correct temperature. You want the crust to hit that high heat right away so the butter or shortening can do it’s thang.
Butter tends to shrink more than shortening. So if you’re looking for a pretty crust, skip the butter. If you are concerned about appearance, use shortening. Or if you’re feeling really wild, do a combination of both!
This pie rolling mat is my latest purchase. I try to limit the types of gadgets in my kitchen because I just don’t have the space. I considered this purchase for several months before I bought it because I already have a roulpat. This felt redundant. It isn’t! This thing is incredible. I was excited for the guide, but it’s tacky on the back, so it sticks to your counter even better than a roulpat.
Just sprinkle a little flour on your surface and roll away! It was easy to move the dough around, too.
Once you get your dough rolled to the correct size for your pie pan, carefully roll the crust over your pin, stick the pie pan underneath, and unfold it.
Then trim off any overhang, tuck the excess underneath, and crimp the edges.
When you get to this point, refrigerate your crust for at least an hour. I know! It’s so hard to wait, but if you skip this step, I’ll show you what happens to the crust. When I blind bake a crust, I line the pie with parchment and put these ceramic pie weights in for the first 15 minutes or so.
Here is an all-butter pie crust that was not chilled prior to blind baking. The picture up above with the beautiful crimped edges? Gone. That’s typical of an all-butter crust. It tends to shrink. Chilling the crust prior to baking (if you’re doing a blind bake) decreases the chances of it shrinking. I also forgot to prick the crust after removing the parchment and pie weights. It puffed up a little. See?! I’m doing all this research for you. You’re welcome.
And here’s the exact same recipe but with a chilled crust (and by chilled, I mean in the freezer for a couple hours prior to popping it in the oven). The difference is negligible. I mean the crust in the photo above is more frumpy. And you can kind of see the crimped edges in the crust below. But after it’s filled with ooey, gooey goodness, who cares! As with any all-butter pie crust, it’s going to shrink. It’s just the nature of the beast. I’m going to test a few more pie crust recipes and use a combination of butter and shortening.
- 2 1/2 cups|12.5 ounces all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon buttermilk powder (optional)
- 16 tablespoons cold, unsalted butter
- 1/4 to 1/2 cup ice water
- Cut the butter into small cubes and place in a shallow dish in the freezer for a few minutes.
- In a large bowl whisk together the flour, salt, and buttermilk powder, if using.
- Add chilled butter, and work into flour. Leave pea-sized chunks of butter mixed in. You do not want it fully incorporated. This is what makes the crust flakier.
- Slowly add water and mix with a fork or your hands. Add just enough water to where the dough starts to come together. The dough should hold together, without crumbling, when you hold it in your hands.
- Gather the dough into a ball and divide it in half. Roll to a disk and wrap in plastic wrap. You can use immediately, or chill until ready to use. If dough has been in fridge longer than 30 minutes, let sit on counter 15-20 minutes to allow for easier rolling.
- If blind-baking crust, place rolled out dough in freezer in the pan for an hour.
If blind baking your crust, line the crust with a parchment round and fill with pie weights. After baking for 15 minutes, remove the weights and parchment, prick the bottom of the crust with a fork, and continue to bake. If the edges are beginning to brown too quickly, add a shield to prevent further browning.