Basic Pie Crust

photoMakes 1 pie crust for a 9-inch tart pan

Once you step into the exciting world of pie making, your options are endless. There are many different pie, tart and galette recipes out there, each one specifically tailored to the type of filling you have in mind. Some are very basic, others become more complicated with the addition of eggs and vodka and there are additional options such as patê sucrée, puff pastry and GF pie dough. I have favorites in all categories, but today we are taking baby steps and I’m going to share what I’ve learned about making a basic pie dough which you can use for pies and tarts, alike. I like to use my food processor – using the regular chopping attachment and not the specific dough one as the former turns closer to the bottom of the dough container so it picks up all the water, butter and flour and rolls it nicely into a ball. Just what you’d hope for. Making it by hand is a great option as well. Either way, making a pie gives me the opportunity to connect with my inner baker and, at the same time, make a great impression on the dinner table!

3/4 cup plain white (preferably organic) all purpose flour
1/4 cup whole wheat flour
4 tablespoons unsalted butter (for an 9-inch tart pan), cold
1/2 cup ice cold water
Pinch of salt

Sift the flour and a pinch of sea salt into the food processor
Cut the cold butter into small pieces and put on top of the flour.
Process it for about 20 – 30 seconds
Add ice-cold water through the top, a tablespoon at a time – about 2 2 1/2 should do it – with the machine running. If the past is still in crumbly little bits after a minute or two, add a tablespoon more of water, but remember, the more water you use, the more the crust will shrink if you bake it blind.
The moment it has cohered into a ball, stop, remove it.
At this point instructions vary. The purist wraps the dough in plastic and refrigerates it for at least 30 minutes. My mother-in-law Anne showed me that it’s much easier to immediately roll the pie out into the dish and then chill it. You can even freeze the unbaked pie crust – which is what her mother used to do when she pre-froze several ready-to-bake pie crusts for her 7 children. I prefer this method as I don’t have to struggle with getting the dough to the right temperature to nicely roll it out agin.

If you are making the dough by hand, sift the flour into a large bowl with the salt, add the chopped butter (in this case I use frozen butter and grate it in a box cutter), and work as briskly as you can to rub the fat into the flour with the tips of your fingers only, rather like running grains of hot sand through your fingers. Add the water bit by bit as above; wrap, and chill the dough.

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