My nemesis, pie crust

TithisAugust 7, 2012

I've tried to make my own pie crust about half a dozen times, rarely coming even close to acceptable.

Basically any time I've tried it when I end up with is clumps of over hydrated dough surrounded by nearly dry flour. Any attempt to even this out results in over handling and a tough gluteny dough and letting it sit seems to do little.

Any suggestions as to what I could be doing wrong? I'm trying to make a butter dough.

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I'm surprised the CF regulars have not come forth.

I use the Cook's Illiustrated vodka pastry recipe with good results. Wizardnm shared this with us long ago.


2 1/2 cups (12 1/2 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon table salt
2 tablespoons sugar
12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/4-inch slices
1/2 cup cold vegetable shortening, cut into 4 pieces
1/4 cup cold vodka
1/4 cup cold water


Process 1 1/2 cups flour, salt, and sugar in food processor until combined, about 2 one-second pulses. Add butter and shortening and process until homogeneous dough just starts to collect in uneven clumps, about 15 seconds (dough will resemble cottage cheese curds and there should be no uncoated flour). Scrape bowl with rubber spatula and redistribute dough evenly around processor blade. Add remaining cup flour and pulse until mixture is evenly distributed around bowl and mass of dough has been broken up, 4 to 6 quick pulses. Empty mixture into medium bowl.

Sprinkle vodka and water over mixture. With rubber spatula, use folding motion to mix, pressing down on dough until dough is slightly tacky and sticks together. Divide dough into two even balls and flatten each into 4-inch disk. Wrap each in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 45 minutes or up to 2 days.

*I have used this recipe with lard instead of shortening. Even better.*

Another recipe some members swear by is Nathan's fool proof pastry.

Posted by annie1992 (My Page) on Wed, Nov 2, 11 at 20:17
I make SharonCB's pastry, it's wonderful to handle and doesn't need to be chilled before rolling, although Sharon said she chilled it an hour or so and it was even easier to handle.
I use half butter and half lard when I can get lard, or all butter if I can't. I do mix the dry ingredients with the fat in the food processor, but I add the liquid and mix it in by hand, I always over process with the food processor and it gets too warm and has to be chilled, which takes even more time than I would have spent mixing it by hand!

These quantities make enough pastry for 3 double-crust pies or 3 1/2 dozen tart shells - muffin size.

5 cups flour
1 teasp salt
2 teasp baking powder
1 lb (454 grams) Tenderflake lard
2 teasp white vinegar
1 egg - slightly beaten. Add water to vinegar and egg to make 1 cup
1) Mix together flour, salt and baking powder. Cut in lard until crumbly (using two knives.)
2) Add liquid and mix gently with hands. (I use a fork to help me here.) Roll into a ball.
3) Roll out amount needed on a floured board. Refrigerate or freeze remainder.

Source: 'I've GOT To Have That Recipe'
Doubleday Canada - Victoria, B.C. 1986
sharoncb's tip: After step two I often put it in the fridge for an hour to make it firmer and easier to roll out.


I hope this helps.

    Bookmark   August 7, 2012 at 2:54AM
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Use a food processor, it makes quick work of mixing the ingredients and keeps it from being overworked. Short pulses work best. Mixing the ingredients by hand has never worked for me.

    Bookmark   August 7, 2012 at 7:55AM
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There are a lot of hints for pie crusts on this thread.

Here is a link that might be useful: Pie crust thread

    Bookmark   August 7, 2012 at 8:17AM
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I like AnnT's recipe, but I don't like using the food processor because it's so easy to over work the dough in one. At least, that's been my experience. I fail at fp pie dough, and I much prefer using my hands. It's more fun that way.

Ann's recipe is probably in that thread Ruthanna linked, but I don't remember. It is a good thread. I do use vegetable shortening as a sub for lard, since I'm vegetarian. I'll put Ann's recipe below, in case the recipe isn't in that thread. I copied this recipe onto my computer at some point, but I don't remember when. Thanks, Ann!

Home Cookin Chapter: Recipes From Thibeault's Table
Butter-Lard Pastry

2 cups all purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup butter
1/3 cup lard (or shortening- Crisco)
5 to 6 tablespoons of ice water
For sweet pies add 1 to 2 teaspoons white sugar.
Mix flour with salt, and cut in butter and lard. An easy way to cut in the fat is to use a food Processor. Cut the
butter and lard into cubes add to the flour and pulse. Butter/lard should be the size of peas. Pour mixture into a bowl and add the icewater, mixing quickly with a fork, just until the dough comes together. Turn out on to floured board and form into a ball. Cut into two pieces, wrap in plastic and refrigerate for an hour.
Another way to cut into the butter is to use a box grater. Makes the perfect size pieces of butter. Just make sure that the butter is very cold.
NOTE: This crust is also perfect made with all butter.
Edited: May/2009


    Bookmark   August 7, 2012 at 9:34AM
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Lard. You will not fail if you substitute ice cold lard for butter or shortening. I tried to make pie crust for twenty years until I finally decided to prove to my grandmother that lard was gross and wouldn't work. I was wrong. Lard makes tender, flaky pie crust every time. The kind of old fashioned, award-winning pie crust that was "easy as pie." Delicious. No funny crispiness, no odd tastes.

I put the lard in the freezer for half an hour or so, use ice water, unbleached flour, table salt. Pulse in the food processor. I used to use a pastry blender like Grandma did and got good results, but since I got a (cheap) food processor, I use the pastry blender for chopping eggs for egg salad! The processor makes short work of the job.

    Bookmark   August 7, 2012 at 9:52AM
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It's all in the technique!!.....Making a good pie crust is just like getting to Carnegie Hall...practice practice practice!!
\ I used to use Ann's recipe....but I called it Julia Child's recipe! LOL! But now I make an all butter crust....with vodka.
1 1/2 cups AP flour
1/4 tsp salt
1 stick of butter frozen and cut into 24 cubes (cut twice down the length and 8 times across)
Shot of vodka
Shot of water...make that a 1 1/2 oz shot.

Pulse flour and salt in food processor, add frozen butter cubes and pulse to that it it looks like the butter is fairly evenly mixed into the flour....don't over process or the flour and butter will get warm and the butter melt.
Dump into a bowl, sprinkle the vodka over the dough, toss with a fork to mix, sprinkle on the water, toss to mix and enough more water to make the dough come together.
Form dough into a round wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes. You can roll out your crust immediately,but it will be easier to handle if you chill it.
Roll into a circle.....flatten the ball on a lightly floured surface and start from the middle of the ball with a floured rolling pin, roll away from you, turn the dough 1/4 turn and roll away from the center, turn and roll again. Don't EVER roll back and forth...makes the dough tough.
Roll up on the pin and roll out into your pie plate....makes one 9 or 10 inch crust.

    Bookmark   August 7, 2012 at 9:57AM
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I use a food processor and make sure my lard/butter is very cold or frozen - it is cubed before adding to the flour. Have everything ready to go (wet ingredients mixed up in a container). From start to finish, the dough should take less than 30 seconds to put together.

It's very important to process it the least amount of time possible. If my recipe calls for 3/4 cup lard, I will often put in 1/2 cup lard and 1/4 cup butter. Butter gives it a richer taste, but lard gives it the flakiness. I don't use shortening because of the trans-fats.

I always have people ask me how I make my crust, but it is really easy once you get the hang of it. Good luck!

    Bookmark   August 7, 2012 at 1:51PM
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