Basic Pie Dough

This is a good, basic pie crust recipe. It has a good mixture of shortening vs. butter to allow flakiness but still keep it delicate.

From Cooks Illustrated Baking cookbook / 2007 November issue.

  • 2.5 C (12.5oz) AP flour (+ more for dusting work surface – *cue Devo music* dust it, dust it good)
  • 1 t salt
  • 2 T sugar
  • 1 C vegetable shortening (Crisco), chilled
  • 12 T (1.5 sticks) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/4″ pieces
  • 6-8 T ice water (we just fill up 1/2 C of water with some ice)
  1. Combine flour, salt and sugar (can use a food processor)
  2. Add shortening until it is just coarse sand (10 sec in the food processor). Do not overmix.
  3. Scatter butter around flour, mix again until it is coarse bread crumb-like texture (1 second pulses in food processor) Again, keep from over-mixing.
  4. Sprinkle 6T of the ice water over the mixture. Just fold the dough together with a rubber spatula to get it to stick together. It will look horrible. Avoid the urge to mix it to smooth consistency. Add up to 2 T of water to get it to come together together. Then back away, slowly (after it’s in the fridge, of course).
  5. Divide into 2 balls and wrap in plastic wrap. Put in refrigerator for an hour to get it to come together.
  6. Roll out as necessary. Michelle taught me the trick of rolling out from the center. It allows your edges not to become too thin and have a bunch in the middle. Also, remember to spin it after a couple of rolls. That will help keep it from sticking to your surface and requiring more flour.

I am horrible about over-mixing in general as I want things to be smooth. Pie crust is my arch-enemy with respect to this. After the hour spell in the ‘fridge, it will come together. The loose flour will pull the water out from the wetter parts to get it to be a smooth dough. If you over-mix, you won’t get those wonderful layers of flakiness and it will be a tough crust. That would be like, bad, man.

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