Three Keys to
the Perfect Crust
There are three keys to
making perfect pie crusts. The first is choosing the right ingredients in
the right ratio. The second is cutting
the butter or shortening into the flour mixture properly. The third is maintaining the correct
1. The Ingredients
Pie crusts are a mixture of
flour, fat, and water. The best recipes seem to have a common ratio of
these ingredients: 1/4 cup water to 1/2 cup fat to 2 1/2 cups flour. (The
flour should be measured by spooning the flour into the measure, not scooping
it. Scooping packs the flour and overloads the formula.) Add one-half
teaspoon of salt and you have a recipe for a double crust.
2. Butter or Shortening
For the fat, you can use
either butter or shortening or a combination. (Butter is 15% water so cut back
slightly on the water when using butter—though the ratio is forgiving enough
that you probably won't notice the difference.) If you are making
more than one pie, just change the amounts but keep the same proportions.
It is important that you
cut the fat into the flour mixture properly.
For that you will need a pastry knife. With a pastry knife, cut the butter or
shortening through the flour until the mixture is coarse and nearly uniform without
large chunks remaining. If you are using
butter, work quickly so that the butter doesn’t become soft or melt.
Temperature may be even
more important than balance—especially if you are using butter. The trick
is to keep the butter and the dough cold enough that the butter pieces remain
intact. If it gets too warm, it melts and saturates the flour. (The
same thing happens with shortening but the melting temperature of shortening is
higher.) It's the little pieces of butter that makes the crust
flaky. As the butter heats in baking, little pockets of steam are formed
from the butter nodules.
To keep your dough cold,
use only the coldest butter and water. Then refrigerate the dough for an
hour before forming the pie. If making multiple pies, take only enough
dough from the refrigerator for one pie keeping the rest cold until you are
ready to for it.
Recipe for a Double Crust
1/4 cup ice
2 1/2 cups
- Mix the salt and flour together with
- Cut the shortening into the flour
mixture until you have a coarse, nearly uniform mixture.
- Make a well in the center and add
the ice water. Mix with a fork until it
comes together into a dough ball. Knead
a few times, only until the dough is smooth.
Extra kneading will make the crust tough instead of crumbly.
- Roll the dough to about 1/8 inch
thick and form the crust.
Just-Add-Water Pie Crust Mix
just-add-water pie crust mix makes a remarkable pie crust with little
work. Just add cold water and beat for
moment with the paddle and your stand-type mixer. Mix only until it comes together into a dough
ball. With and electric mixer, it’s easy
to beat too long and the dough will be tough.
See our Just-Add-Water
Professional Pie Crust Mix.
more about pies and get pie recipes, download The Perfect Pie recipe e-book.