Author Notes: This is the flaky pie dough recipe that stands to make the biggest difference for a budding pie baker—because have you ever thought about what “till the mixture resembles coarse crumbs” means to a first-timer? Not much. This recipe proves an unexpected path that’s easier for us all to understand without prior knowledge or intuition. Recipe adapted from BraveTart: Iconic American Desserts by Stella Parks (W.W. Norton & Company, 2017). —Genius Recipes
Makes: two 9-inch (23cm) single pie crusts or one double crust
cups plus 1 tablespoon (8 ounces/225g) all-purpose flour, preferably Gold Medal bleached flour, plus more for dusting
teaspoons kosher salt, preferably Diamond Crystal
ounces (225g/2 sticks) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch (1.3cm) cubes
cup (120ml) very cold water
- To make the dough: Before your hands get messy, gather all your ingredients, plus a medium bowl, a whisk, a rubber spatula, a rolling pin, a 9-inch (23cm) pie plate (preferably glass), and a bench scraper or offset spatula (or other thin spatula-like thing). A ruler and a pair of kitchen shears will help, too.
- Whisk the flour, sugar, and salt together in a medium bowl, then add the butter. Toss the butter cubes in the flour, separating any stuck-together cubes with your fingers, then pinch each cube flat with your fingers, to about 1/4-inch (6mm) thick—don’t work the butter in more! Stir in the cold water with a rubber spatula and press and knead together until the dough comes together in a ball. Dump the ball onto a heavily floured work surface, sprinkle the top with more flour, and use a rolling pin to roll out a rectangle that’s roughly 10 x 15 inches (25 x 38cm), with the longer side closest to you, adding as much flour as you need along the way to keep it from sticking. (If your kitchen is very warm and, at any point, the butter gets melty and sticky, gather the dough onto a baking sheet and pop it into the fridge till it firms up a little, 15 minutes or so.)
- Slide an offset spatula under the dough to loosen it from the counter, then fold each 10-inch (25cm) side toward the middle so the edges meet, then close the packet like a book. Fold the book in half, top to bottom, then slice the dough in half horizontally, so you have two roughly equal-sized rectangles of dough. (If it’s warmer than 72°F (22°C) in your kitchen, you might want to refrigerate the dough for 15 to 20 minutes before proceeding.)
- Wrap one portion of dough in plastic wrap and chill it while you get to work on the other one, or freeze for later it if you don’t plan on using it right away. Roll the remaining portion out 1/8 to 1/4-inch (3-6mm) thick, into a 14-inch (36cm) round. Feel for sticky patches on top and underneath as you go, smoothing flour over them if needed. Brush off any excess flour, then drape the dough over your 9-inch (23cm) pie pan and lift the edges of the dough to drape the sides down into the corners without stretching the dough. Trim the excess to a 1 1/4-inch (3cm) overhang all around, then fold it under and press to seal it well, creating a 3/4-inch (2cm) border. Crimp with your fingers or a fork into whatever decorative edge you like. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, or overnight. Alternatively, the crust can be frozen for up to 3 months and thawed overnight in the fridge before baking.
- To make a double-crusted pie: Roll the remaining dough as before, or, for a lattice-top pie, roll into a 9 x 15-inch (23cm x 38cm) rectangle. Transfer the entire sheet, uncut, to a baking sheet. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate at least 2 hours and up to overnight. Use as directed in your favorite recipe.
- To blind-bake for a single-crusted pie (and have one portion of dough left over): Heat the oven to 350°F (175°C) with a rack positioned in the lower-middle. Line the chilled crust with a 16-inch (40cm) square of foil (not parchment or wax paper), pressing it against the dough and letting the excess hang over the sides. Fill the crust to the brim with sugar, a no-waste alternative to traditional options like rice or dried beans (once cool, the roasted sugar can be stored and used in any recipe in place of granulated sugar).
- Set the pie pan on a rimmed baking sheet and bake until the crust is cooked through and lightly browned, about 1 hour (using a glass pan makes it easy to check the underside to make sure it’s nicely browned). Remove the crust from oven and carefully lift out the foil with both hands and set aside on a plate until the sugar has fully cooled. Cool the crust to room temperature and use within 12 hours. Once cool, store the roasted sugar airtight at room temperature. To use the other half of the dough if frozen, thaw in the fridge overnight first.