How to Make Pie Crust

Опубликовал Admin
21-08-2021, 02:30
Don't fear the crust. Long rumored to be difficult, impossible, or written on some lost scroll in the realm of grandmotherly secrets, homemade pie crust is easier than the rumors have you believe. You can whip up a batch of dough with a few simple ingredients and 10 or 15 minutes, and learn to troubleshoot common crust issues, as well as make some helpful alternatives. See Step 1 for more information.

Mixing the Dough

  1. Mix flour and salt into a large mixing bowl. Stir the sifted flour and salt together thoroughly, preferably in a sizable heat-resistant mixing bowl. Because maintaining a cool temperature is essential to keeping the gluten strands from forming a strong bond, using chilled flour and a chilled bowl is recommended.
    • While you're preparing the dough, it's a good idea to chill your butter thoroughly before you attempt to work it in, if you're using butter. Anytime the mixture gets overworked, you can stop, put the mixing bowl into the fridge, and let it chill back down to a workable temperature.
  2. Cut the butter or shortening into the flour. There are many different methods of cutting the fat into the flour, but all are equally effective with the right amount of elbow grease. The most important thing is to keep the butter cool, if you use it, so keep it in the freezer for at least 30 minutes or so, cutting it into large chunks before integrating it more thoroughly. You want to mix in the fat until you have small and uniform pea-sized chunks.
    • Use a food processor. The easiest way to cut the butter is to use a food processor, pulsing the flour mixture for a minute or two, until the butter is chopped up to the appropriate size.
    • Use a pastry cutter for butter or shortening. A pastry cutter is a great way of chopping up the butter in a good uniform mixture, quickly and without much effort. Roll the pastry cutter through the flour mixture, clearing out the butter from behind the tines after you make each pass around the bowl, if necessary. It shouldn't take more than a few minutes.
    • Use a fork or two knives. If you don't have a pastry cutter or a food processor, don't fret. It's possible, but takes slightly more hand strength and effort, to cut up the butter with the flat side of a table fork, using two knives to slice the butter in opposite directions, or even just using the end of a metal spatula.
    • Just use your fingers with shortening. Shortening won't be greatly affected by the heat from your hands or from the room temperature, making it easy to get your hands in and crumble up the shortening into the flour using your fingers. You can also do this with butter. Letting it get warm makes the mixture too glutenous and it won't be flakey.
  3. Mix in ice-cold water into the flour mixture. Use a wooden spoon and gently stir the flour as you pour a small amount of ice water into the bowl. Pour a tablespoon or two at a time, integrating it gently by agitating the flour. The mixture should just barely come together and form a loose ball, and shouldn't be at all damp or wet looking.
    • Be very gentle. The key to a flaky crust is to make sure you don't overwork the dough. Pie crust is not bread dough, and if you overwork the dough, the crust will become quite tough and difficult to handle. Be a minimalist when it comes to mixing the water into the flour. Less touching means more tender dough.
  4. Chill the flour any time the mixture becomes overworked. If you're struggling to get the flour to come together, or if everything has become too warm, don't be afraid to pop the bowl into the freezer for a couple of minutes to chill it back down to a more workable temperature. Cold dough is easier to work with.
  5. Use your hands to form dough into ball. Very gently, pull the flour into a ball, touching it as little as possible, and then split ball in two equal portions. The recipe should make two portions, which you could use for one bottom crust and one top crust, or bottom crusts for two different pies. Cut the dough ball in half with a kitchen knife and separate the halves gently.
    • It's usually a good idea to chill the dough in the refrigerator until you're ready to roll it out and bake with it. If you've already got the oven pre-heated and you're anxious to get started, putting it in the freezer can be a good way to get the temperature down quickly.
    • If you want to save the dough for a longer period of time, freeze it in a self-sealing freezer bag. When you're ready to use it, let it defrost in the fridge overnight and roll it out normally.

Rolling Out the Crust

  1. Prepare your rolling surface. There are several different techniques to rolling out the pie crust, so it's good to experiment some to find out what works best for you and the materials at hand. Some bakers prefer to prep a clean and smooth work surface, while others will use wax paper or plastic bags to create a non-stick barrier for rolling out the dough and help in moving the crust onto the pie plate safely.
    • Wax paper makes an excellent surface on which to roll out pie crust. Tape down a piece slightly larger than the diameter of the pie plate you hope to fill with the crust, and flour the surface gently. Many bakers will use wax paper in combination with pastry cloth or a second sheet of wax paper to fold the crust into a triangle for easy transport and use.
    • A wooden or stone pastry board requires very little or no flour to roll out pie crust. This can be an excellent investment if you plan on making lots of pie crusts.
    • It's also common to place pie dough in gallon Ziplock bags and unroll them without removing them from the bag. It can be somewhat challenging to keep pie crust from sticking to the rolling pin, making it a useful easy-clean barrier that will keep the pin from sticking. Just make sure you chill the dough thoroughly and flour the dough before attempting to roll it out.
  2. Clean your rolling surface thoroughly. Start by washing your flouring surface, scraping any old pastry bits off to get the cleanest, smoothest surface possible. If you rinse it with water, let it dry completely before adding flour, or you'll get goopy dough on the board that you don't' want. Pie crust can be very delicate and tender, making it important that you use a very smooth, clean, surface.
  3. Flour the surface of whatever rolling surface you use liberally with flour. Whether you want to use a pastry board or your kitchen counter, sprinkle a layer of flour onto it evenly and place the dough on or in it. Rolling out the crust is the most difficult part, so give yourself a good layer of flour to avoid ripping it.
    • The amount of flour used to "dust the board" will vary depending on the fat content of the crust you're making, the amount, and the humidity in your area. It's always easier to add more, but it'll be impossible to take flour away if you end up drying it out. Sprinkle no more than a tablespoon or two of flour on the board when you start out, and no more than a tablespoon on top of the dough on top.
  4. Roll out the first ball of dough. Sprinkle a fair amount of flour on a rolling pin, to make sure the dough won't stick, and start rolling out the dough. Start from the center, rotating your rolling pin around to smooth the dough evenly in different directions, using smooth even strokes and removing the rolling pin from the dough as soon as you've completed a stroke.
    • Flip the dough over and flour the rolling surface again. Turn over the dough every two or three passes with the rolling pin, to avoid sticking it to the rolling surface.
    • It shouldn't take more than 5 or 10 passes to get the dough rolled out. The ideal pie crust is about ⁄8 inch (0.3 cm) thick, and even.
    • Don't worry if your crust doesn't roll out into a perfect circle. Remember, you want to avoid over-working the dough, so it's better to have a flaky crust that's a little oblong than a perfectly-shaped crust that's too tough. There's nothing wrong with a slightly misshapen pie crust, because you can trim off excess bits after you get it into the pan.
  5. Carefully transport the crust to the pie plate using the wax paper or the rolling pin. The moment that you're most likely to tear the crust is during the step from moving it from the rolling board to the pie plate. But with the right technique, you can help to keep your crust in one piece.
    • If you rolled the crust out on wax paper, sandwich the crust between that piece and other piece, then fold it over, and over again into a triangle. You can store this in the freezer for easy use, or you can use it right away, unfolding it into the pie plate.
    • If you rolled the crust out on the counter, you can either roll the crust up onto the rolling pin, unrolling it onto the pie plate, or you can use a pastry scraper and gently move the crust flat.
  6. Gently unroll the dough and lightly press into plate. Use your fingers to push the dough into the bottom corners of the pie plate, and flat against the sides of the pie tin. Using a sharp knife, trim the edges of the crust and use the excess dough to patch any rips or tears in the crust.
    • You don't need to grease or flour the pie plate before you add the crust. It should release from the tin as it cooks. A tiny dusting of cornmeal in the bottom of the tin can help to unstick the crust, if necessary.
  7. Fill the bottom crust with your desired pie filling. Depending on what kind of pie you want to make, you might need to cook the filling, or simply empty the pre-made filling into your crust. Follow the directions for the particular variety of pie you want to make and prepare the filling accordingly.
    • Blueberry, blackberry, or other berry filling can either be made from canned pie filling, or from fresh fruit. If you start from fresh fruit, add white sugar, to taste, and a tablespoon of cornstarch for each cup of fruit to thicken the juice.
    • To make stone-fruit filling, like Cherry or peach, remove the pits by cutting the fruit in half or using a pitting machine. Remove the skins if desired, or leave them on.
    • Cook down apple, rhubarb, and other crunchy or sour fruits, like gooseberries, to release the juices and soften the fruit. Add a small amount of cinnamon and brown sugar to the filling as it cooks to add fragrance and taste.
    • Make pumpkin or sweet potato filling by mixing pureed pumpkin or sweet potato with sweetened condensed milk, nutmeg, cinnamon, clove, and other baking spices.
    • To make Chocolate, coconut, lemon, or banana cream filling, you'll need to pre-bake your empty pie crust before adding the cooked custard and cooling it in the fridge to set.
    • Mincemeat, chicken, or other savory fillings by sautéing the ingredients completely in the skillet before adding them to the crust and baking them. All meats and vegetables should be cooked completely before being added.
  8. Roll out the second ball of dough following the steps above. Flour your rolling surface, roll the second ball of dough out with the rolling pin, and place it atop the filling.
    • Using a pastry brush (or just brushing it on with your finger), moisten the perimeter of the bottom crust with water or a single beaten egg so that it will stick to the top crust. Using a fork, crimp the top and bottom crusts together so it stays secure. Trim off excess dough with a sharp knife.
    • You can cut slits in the top to vent the steam, or cut a more intricate design to your liking. You can use excess dough to create little shapes or designs on the top of the pie to decorate it.
    • Alternatively, you can cut the top crust into several strips of dough, to create the lattice crust.

Troubleshooting Common Problems

  1. If your crust is tough, it was handled too much. Pie crust dough shouldn't be kneaded or handled like bread dough. Kneading and rising is done at room temperature to create gluten strands, which give bread its chewiness. It's desirable in bread, but undesirable in crust. If you want it flaky and tender, handle it as little as possible.
    • It's also possible that too much water was added to the crust. It takes some practice to get the water right: you want to add very cold water until the dough just starts to come together. You'll likely have to press the crumbs together to make it work, because there won't be enough water to make it come together just by stirring.
  2. If the bottom crust gets soggy, bake it at a higher temperature. Baking at too low a temperature can make the filling bubble before the pie crust browns, making it seep into the bottom layer. The bottom crust won't firm up properly when this happens, and it can get soggy for that reason.
    • It's also possible that a soggy pie is the result of too little cornstarch being added to raw fruit. Blueberries, in particular, require lots of cornstarch to set up, and will release a lot of liquid when you start baking them. It'll take some practice to get the cornstarch ratio correct. You'll also need to let the pie rest a while before cutting into it.
  3. If the crust is too crumbly, the ingredient ratios were off. You might have used too little water or too much shortening, but a crumbly crust that isn't flaky like you want it to be, one that has a dusty taste, needs to be tweaked slightly. Try to make the crust again, but substituting the same amount of butter, and see if that affects the consistency. If it comes out the same, you'll know it's the water. If it's different, try to add slightly less shortening next time.
  4. If the crust is dry but not flaky, the shortening was cut too much. Leaving small but noticeable chunks of butter in the crust is a good way of creating flakes. As the butter melts, it spreads out, creating that desirable texture in pie crust. If it's too ground up into the flour, you won't get the same texture.

Using Alternative Ingredients

  1. Substitute whole wheat flour for white. It's possible to make whole grain crusts by substituting an equal amount of whole wheat pastry flour, as fine a grain as possible. To help the texture, it's also a good idea to add a quarter to a half cup of raw oats, flaxseed meal, or other whole grain flour to help get the mix to come together.
    • Whole wheat flour tends to be much more brittle and difficult to handle than that made with white flour. Be very careful not to over-mix it.
  2. Make a cookie crust. Making a cookie crust with finely crumbled ginger snap, Oreo, graham cracker, or some other cookie of your choice. Start with 12-15 cookies in a plastic bag and crush them with a plate or tenderizing mallet, until they're fine enough to resemble a coarse flour. To that, mix in a quarter cup of melted butter, and press into the cookie plate. Bake at 350 F for 10 minutes, watching closely so it won't burn.
    • Cookie crusts pair excellently with custard or cream pies, like chocolate or coconut. It's less effective for fruit pies.
  3. Use gluten free substitutes. Use equal amounts of brown or white rice flour and sweet rice flour, instead of wheat flour. The rest of the recipe works as normal, as long as you use vegetable shortening, which is vegan. It's also common to use a little xanthan gum, about a teaspoon, to bind the dough and replace the need for the gluten strands that form in wheat flour dough.


  • 2 2/3 cups unbleached flour. Avoid bread flour, which results in a more glutenous dough.
  • 1/2 teaspoon iodized salt
  • 1 cup of cold butter or shortening. Use room-temperature shortening for easy workability (especially if you're a beginner) or use butter for a more flaky, golden crust.
  • About 7 tablespoons (about a quarter cup) ice-cold water. Remember to keep the water icy and cold — the temperature is more important than the exact amount.
  • 1 tablespoon of white vinegar, sugar, vodka, or lemon juice. The addition of a "secret ingredient" like vinegar keeps gluten strands from forming in the pie crust, making it soft and flaky.


  • Put the pie crust in fridge for 30 minutes before baking.
  • For a little different flavor, try using butter flavored Crisco, or other butter flavored shortening.
  • When cutting shortening or butter into flour, place the bowl you're using into a bigger bowl filled with ice water and ice cubes. Then you won't need to keep chilling the dough in the fridge while you work.


  • The dough, when you roll it out, should be a little crumbly at the edges. If your dough is too crumbly to shape, add more water, and if it is really wet (not crumbling at the edges at all), add a little more flour.
  • When baking a pie, place a plate on a larger cookie sheet or pizza pan to catch any overflowing filling.

Things You'll Need

  • Pastry cutter
  • Fork
  • Rolling pin
  • Waxed paper and masking tape, pastry cloth or pastry board
  • Large bowl
  • Small bowl
  • 9-inch pie plate
  • Sharp knife
  • Pastry brush
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