Apr 20, 2010

My Favorite Pie Crust

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Oh, friends. How have we come this far and I haven’t shared my favorite pie crust recipe with you? This is vital information and I’m sorry I’ve held out on you. It’s not okay. Because this pie crust is really something.

Now, I know practically everyone has a favorite pie crust recipe, each one with a little secret, a tweak on the basics that is supposed to guarantee a perfect pie crust experience. In fact, I love hearing about people’s pie crust recipes and their little tricks, and have been known to ask such probing questions as party conversation. Pretend you didn’t just hear that.

And in the food blogosphere, well, there seems to be as many reinventions of the pie crust wheel as there are metatarsal-stabbing wooden puzzle pieces on my living room carpet right now, which is to say a temple massage-inducing number. Many are awesome and reliable in their own ways–Deb has one, Joy has one that you don’t even have to roll out, and the great Lebovitz has one that’s all Frenched out. And now I’m adding to the madness with one more variation for you, the pie crust recipe that has my heart forever and ever.

My favorite pie crust is a formula that I’ve tinkered with over time. It’s an irresistibly golden, crisp, flaky, all-butter, melt-in-your-mouth crust with a genius hit of baking powder that really makes it foolproof. It comes together in minutes in the food processor. It’s a crust that you don’t have to be so precious with; even if you give a few too many pulses with the processor or handle it a wee bit too much (cardinal sins of pie crust making), that tiny bit of baking powder will give enough lift to correct all that. Pastry insurance, if you will. It’s a beautiful thing.

So do tell, darling readers…what’s your favorite pie crust recipe?

My Favorite Pie Crust

This recipes makes two crusts, enough for a 9-inch double-crust pie. If you need just one pie shell, halve the amounts. I make this in a food processor, but you could also do it by hand with a pastry cutter or in a stand mixer. I tend to ignore the “process until the butter is the size of peas” instruction in most pie crust recipes and instead go for larger pieces of butter–let’s say lima bean-sized–to avoid overworking the dough while adding the water and getting the dough to come together.

Cold ingredients are the key to all great pie crusts–put your flour in the freezer for 30 minutes, keep the butter in the fridge until right before you use it and use ice water.

For a savory crust, I include the smaller amount of sugar as listed here–it’s great for flavor and browning. For sweet pies, you can add more as you like, up to 2 tablespoons.

Makes enough dough for 1 double-crusted pie or 2 single, 10-inch crusts

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon to 2 tablespoons sugar (see note)
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt (or 1/4 teaspoon table salt)
1 cup (2 sticks) very cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
6 to 8 tablespoons ice water

In the bowl of a food processor, combine the flour, sugar, salt and baking powder. Pulse a few times to blend. Sprinkle the butter pieces over the dry ingredients. Pulse until the butter is the size of lima beans, no smaller.

Add 6 tablespoons of the water and pulse until the dough just begins to form a ball (you may need to add up to 2 tablespoons more of the ice water). Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and gather it into a ball. Divide the dough in half, and gently pat each half into a disc. Wrap each disc tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before rolling.

After you roll out the crust and place it in the desired pan, let it chill for 15-30 minutes in the refrigerator before filling and baking to prevent shrinking.

To pre-bake or blind bake this crust, freeze the shaped crust in the pan for at least 30 minutes. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line the pie shell with parchment or aluminum foil and fill with pie weights. Bake for 25-30 minutes covered, then remove the pie weights and liner and bake until lightly golden, about 10 to 15 minutes more. Cool completely on a wire rack before filling.

  • Looks great, and as I have not yet found "the perfect" recipe, I'm looking forward to trying this one. Do the edges hold their crimp nicely?

  • Jami–They really do. Very little change during baking. Just chill the crimped crust for 15-30 minutes before baking. Will be posting another recipe with baked crust photos later in the week!

  • Just found you through Anita.

    My favorite pie dough is Sherry Yard's, from her book The Secrets of Baking. Super flaky and tasty.

  • This one from Epicurious is quite ok. But still haven't found the dream pie 🙂


  • Love your crimping! I have zero counter space to actually roll out dough so I use a great press-in version from Dorie Greenspan–works out great!

  • I will try this one…I have a bit of a pie crust phobia…not eating it, mind you, but making it 🙂

  • My fave is Rose Levy Beranbaum's cream cheese piecrust from Pie and Pastry Bible. Best part: baking the scraps separately sprinkled with sugar and/or salt.

  • SHauna, looks amazing!
    What size is your food processor?
    I have a 4 cup, would that be large enough?
    I am looking foward to making this one!

  • Looks great!! I use a similar recipe from The Rosie's Bakery cookbook, I love a little sugar in the crust, and using the food processor makes it so easy!! I love your blog, found it through Cookies and Cups, your recipes are awesome!! I will be adding you to my blogroll.

  • I am so totally giddy with all of your sharing your favorite pie crusts. Normal?

    Laura–I heart Anita. And Sherry Yard. So you come on back anytime!

    Lucie–Way to make it work for you. Pie crust can indeed requires a lot of counter real estate!

    C&C–Glad to see I'm not the only one.

    Michael–RLB? Cream cheese? Sold.

    Eileen–Mine is an 11-cup processor. A 4-cupper would be so tight you'd probably be hating life. You might try doing this one by hand. Try grating the frozen butter with a box grater right into the dries–that's a great, easy way to do crust by hand. In fact, I'm updating the headnotes. How did I forget that?

    CQ–Welcome, welcome!

  • I love Deb's all butter crust. I have had AMAZING success with it…makes me feel like an expert! Now if I could just get the apple pie inside it to set properly I would make my husband very happy. I'd try this one too though if I had a bigger food processor because I haven't really found a processor dough I like and its a good thing to have available! Oh and it is definitely pie season!

  • For an apple pie, I favor the cheddar crust for "Apple of Her Eye Pie" from "The New Basics Cookbook". Easy as pie to make…

  • I have had your blog bookmarked for a while but I never seemed to have the chance to catch up with it. I have finally been able to read through it (thanks to the flu keeping me off my feet) and I have to say that it is great! Of course the recipes are wonderful, but I also love how clean the layout is and the "homey" feel of the photos you use. I can't wait to start working my way through some of your recipes.

  • I must confessed….I am not a baker ;( I tried baking and it was disastrous to say the least. Still, very much a sweet tooth person and looks all kinds of cakes, pies, tarts, brownies..you name it 😀

    Love your blog and love all your wonderful posts ;D

  • Mmmm, clearly you are psychic and knew you had to help me use the asparagus from my CSA box! This looks lovely.

  • amazing pictures!

  • Thanks for sharing this recipe. I love trying different recipes. I've never seen one with baking powder in it. Now I'm curious! Thanks again! Oh, and that last photo…wow, what a perfect, fluted crust!

  • I love the all butter pie crust from The Sweet Melissa Baking Book. However, mine are not nearly as gorgeous as yours. I'm completely envious of your crimping.

  • Oh that crimping is beautiful!!

  • I have, hmn, not too many…just hmn…. 4 zillion questions 😀

    1. I don't have a food processor (I'm poor). Alternatives? I do have a stand mixer though 🙂

    2. I don't have a loose bottom pie pan. Just a normal Ikea pie pan.(Yeah, I know, how poor am I?) How do I get the pie shell out once it's baked?

    Oh and did I forget to mention, I luuurrve your blog 🙂

  • I'm still waiting for your reply. Have promised a little girl some chocolate pie, but need to know how I can get the pie shell out of a regular pan. And if I can do without the FP. Thanks 🙂

  • Anonymous–Yes, a stand mixer will do. Just use the paddle attachment. And about the pan, it doesn't matter if you use a regular pie plate or a tart pan with a removable bottom–it will come out either way. Good luck!

  • Thanks Shauna! I thought I'd have to grease it or something? But looks like its got enough butter!

  • Excellent post dear blogger, but you should write something else in your next post, for example, bacon and egg pie differs from a quiche most notably the absence of cheese and milk and the presence of an upper crust. The pie also tends to have a heavier texture and feel, and is generally high in calories. 23jj

  • Hi,
    Thanks for sharing this recipe..Really I it..It looks great.I am going to try it..

  • Guys, anyone can crimp a crust like that, it’s the very easiest. You just place your left thumb and index finger against the outer edge of the crust, then press the tip of your right index finger against the inside edge of the crust and push against your left finger/thumb. You’re basically pinching it into that gorgeous shape. Just try it, you’ll find it’s so easy. It’s the only crimp I ever use any more, because it looks great every time!

  • […] unbaked pie shell (I used this one) 4 medium Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, and cut into thin wedges (enough for two layers) 1 […]

  • […] several times and it has been super delicious each time, no matter what apples I use or which pie crust recipe I decide to try. Tonight, I am working on a new version of this pie (it’s kind of my first […]

  • Awesome Pie Dough Recipe!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! The dough was as soft as air. I was on a time schedule and didn’t wait long enough and took it out of the fridge early and my dough shrank but luckly I also didn’t read the part on how to pre-bake it so it was soft enough to save. I then followed you instructions to the T and it came out lovely! 1st time ever making homeade pie dough too 🙂 Thanks for the help. And oh PLEASE PUT MORE PIE RECIPES!!! I didn’t see many and would love your version of Blueberry and Chocolate Mousse.

    • Why DON’T I do more pie?! This has become a Major Life Question since reading your comment. Will remedy this in the near future. So glad the recipe works for you too!

  • This looks wonderful! I am planning to make a quiche for my mom’s birthday, and I was wondering if I could chill the crust for a few hours befote filling and baking it? Thanks! I just love your blog!

    • Absolutely! Just wrap it well with plastic wrap.

      • Done! It was such a hit. Thanks so much!

  • […] 1 pie crust, partially pre-baked and cooled (I used this one) […]

  • this the best pie crust recipe, love it

    • YES!

  • So. This was surprisingly good–the edges looked hard, BUT it wasn’t hard, which was super good and cool that it wasn’t hard as a rock….
    Well, this recipe is a keeper unless I find another one I like. I love how it only requires butter (I’m not a fan of shortening). I also added onion powder and garlic powder because I was making a quiche and wanted it flavored.

  • Shauna, this is the absolute BEST pie crust recipe. Every now and then I try a different recipe, but they always disappoint. I recently bought a pie cookbook and the pie recipes are outstanding but the pie crust recipe just doesn’t compare to yours. So many of your recipes have become my favorites over the years (your crumb cake recipe is unbelievable!), thanks for sharing your passion and your knowledge!

    • Thank YOU for taking the time to leave such a sweet message. I’m so glad you’ve found some good stuff here! xo

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