2 August 2011

The Perfect Pie Crust

I searched high and low for a trusty basic pie crust recipe for a long while, I am a self-confessed pastry addict, so Im pretty darn picky I have to say! A year or so back I stumbled upon this recipe at the wonderful blog Smitten Kitchen and it's been my fool proof delicious go-to recipe ever since. It was love at first bite :) If you are still on the hunt for a pie crust recipe that will not let you down - please try this one. I honestly put my baking dignity on the line and say that I guarantee you will be happy with the outcome if you follow all the steps

It's an all-butter crust, and although some people swear by the use of lard/shortening or more recently vodka (Cooks Illustrated's invention I think), this one yields the divinely flakey crisp crust that we all yearn for and it never lets me down. So all butter it is!

In this little tutorial I used my food processor to help things along, but Ive used a pastry cutter before (and have to do it by hand if I do a double crust as my machine is too mini!) I would recommend doing it by hand but it works fine either way :) If using the processor then be very careful not to over process, do not wait until the butter is pea sized before adding in the water - by the time it starts to clump you will have completely obliterated those bits of butter and you WANT to be able to see little smudges of butter when its rolled. It's this that aids your quest for flakey perfection. Head on over to Smitten Kitchen to read more in depth about how to create the perfect pie crust, but if you want the quick n dirty version to robotically follow, then just stick with me and I will take you through it! The Key = Cold. Remember this, the colder ingredients are, the flakier your crust. And that is the aim of the game
It is ready when crumbles hold together if pinched
 I realise my board is too small, sorry about this! It's the only one I have so must make do :) Where there's a will there's a way!
 A bit rough 'n ready is this one, my first crimping attempt! :)

You can use this crust for sweet or savoury pies - for sweet use the larger sugar quantity

The Perfect All-Butter Pie Crust
(Pâte Brisée)
1 9 inch double pie crust with halved quantities for a single pie crust in blue

2 1/2 cups plain flour (1 1/4 cups)
1 tsp or 1 Tbsp sugar (1/2 tsp or 1 1/2 tsp)
1 tsp salt (1/2 tsp)
1 cup/2sticks/8oz cold unsalted butter, cubed (4oz / 1stick)
1/2 - 3/4 cup ice water (4 - 6 Tbsp)

Combine the flour, sugar and salt by pulsing a few times in a processor or whisking in a bowl
Add the very cold, cubed butter and pulse about 6/7 times, or cut it in using a pastry blender until pea-sized
Add the smaller quantity of water (ie 1/2 cup for a double, or 4 Tbsp for a single crust) and pulse a few times/gather the mix using a spatula. Continue adding water 1 Tbsp at a time until mixture begins to clump and holds together if you pinch the crumbles
Work the dough with your hands in a large bowl to form a smooth disc. Be careful not to over-knead it

Wrap the disk in plastic wrap. If doing a double crust, halve the dough and wrap each half separately
Place in the refrigerator for at least an hour or up to 1 week (can also freeze)

Remove from refrigerator, put the dough on a lightly floured surface, sprinkle with more flour and roll in one direction a few times, lift to free the dough, turn it 90 degrees, roll, and continue doing this until you get a circle 12 inches in diameter, re-flouring as needed to stop sticking

To transfer the crust, lightly fold in half. Pick up the dough and put it in the pie pan so the fold lines up with the middle. Unfold the dough, gently press in to mould it to the pan, and crimp/trim the edges

For the butter - you can freeze the cubes first if you wish, and some people freeze the block of butter then grate it in. Anything for cold butter!


  1. Great first attempt! Looks very professional, my crusts always look terrible.

  2. the key to my perfect pie crust? my darling boyfriend. i really do need to take photo tutorial shots because he is quite genius with it handling the dough...

  3. @Lisa (this litttle piggy) Thats so kind of you to say Lisa :) I have to say it really is nowhere near professional, but practice makes perfect and i really dont need much persuasion to practice pie making!

    @Angry Asian Now why didnt I think of that one! I just need to find myself a bloke with the magic touch (in the kitchen of course!) I look forward to when you make that tutorial!

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  5. The Smitten Kitchen was my first food blog crush. Your crust looks perfect...just like Deb's! Great work around the edges, I always have a hard time making mine look uniform. :p

  6. The crust came out great! I love SK, and while I tend to use 1 part shortening, 1 part butter in my crust, this one definitely looks like it might be worth a try. What did you decide to fill it with?

  7. Looks like a perfect pie crust to me - I have a bit [read:HUGE] soft spot for pastry too so this is the post for me. Is this the pie crust for that strawberry pie by any chance?

  8. You did an awesome job on that crust! I'm pretty certain that mine has never turned out that beautifully crimped. Butter truly does amazing things to a pie crust, doesn't it?

  9. @Valerie Thanks Valerie! Smitten Kitchen is a great resource is it not. I wouldnt say its anywhere near perfect but am SO grateful for your lovely compliment :)

    @the [sugar] apothecary I think there is something to say for the use of lard or shortening in crusts, I know my gran did use it and always made wonderful pies! This crust happened to go towards the best pie I think ive ever made, its an amazing Strawberry Pie and if you fancy checking it out it should be up in the next couple of days :)

    @Chele Oh me too Chele, pastry is just too irresistible hey :) And this is indeed the crust about to be used for that pie! My slightly dodgy crimping is a little more evident when its baked...but it still tastes good!

    @Barefeet In The Kitchen Thank you so much! Im so sure it has and you are just being kind, you are such a talented baker! Butter does amazing things to anything, its a sad-for-the-hips but true fact :)

  10. I look at any crust with a skeptical eye. Any pie crust can look good (and yours certainly looks great), but if it's made with shortening, I tend to pass (and don't even get me started on lard). But any butter crust is a winner in my book.
    Did you crimp by twisting your fingers, or using your knuckle? Or some other method?

  11. I just bought a new pie dish today, might put this recipe to use at the weekend!

    Thanks :)

    Hazel x

  12. This looks perfect. I'm sure gonna give this a try, for I am always trying new pie crust in search of that perfect one and maybe this is it:D
    Add you some filling and your lovely meringue and you will have one snazzy dessert!

  13. Beautiful! I tend to cheat when it comes to pie crusts and buy them from the market, sacrilege, I know, but I've had some really horrible messes trying to roll my own (pie crusts, that is)!

  14. Just discovered your blog via Poires au Chocolat. This pastry looks beautiful - what did you fill it with? Cold is definitely the key - I always make pastry on a cool marble kitchen top to avoid any sticky disasters!

  15. My crusts are always generally "passable" but never great so I'm totally grateful for this! How the hell does one use vodka instead of butter or lard?! It sounds totally odd!

  16. This is a great pie crust- no question!
    But... really... what will you do with it?
    I guess there is another delicious post waiting for us, no?

  17. @Jacob Pie crust can be a tricky thing to get right I agree, but I am glad to have my current go-to recipe :) To do the crimping I made a sort of 'C' shape with my left first finger and thumb and then pushed into the gap from the other side of the dough with my first finger on the other hand...i tried a few different things though to be fair so it was a learn-as-you-go kinda thing for me!

    @CakewithHazel I actually bought a pie dish especially for this! Id always made do using silly shaped pans but thought it was about time I invested in a decent one :) and i very much enjoyed christening it i have to say!

    @Apron of Grace I hope this ends your search :) and i agree, the lemon meringue cake filling/topping would work wonderfully here, great idea!

    @Pattie @ Olla-Podrida I dont judge you Pattie dont worry! Its very tempting when you can buy a perfect looking crust to just cheat, but the satisfaction of making your own and having it turn out is definitely worth the effort :)

    @thelittleloaf Oh thank you for stopping by and leaving such a nice comment. I made a strawberry pie which i will be blogging about tonight/tomorrow morn. It truly is my favourite pie ive made to date so I would definitely check it out if it sounds like your cuppa tea :)

    @Juls I should have been more clear Juls sorry! Its used AS WELL as the fats, not instead of. It is used instead of the liquids and is supposed to evaporate during baking so you have a flakier crust at the end. Kind of makes sense if you think about it, and a lot swear by it so i might have to give it a go sometime just to see! Thank you for commenting :)

    @lavieenfribourg Of course there is Nadine :) I made a strawberry pie (something ive never done or thought of before actually but it was SO delicious!). Will blog about it soon and if it sounds like something you would like I would really recommend it!

  18. Sasha, first, I love your tiled countertops. they're beautiful. Second, I completely agree with the all butter crust.
    If we think about some of the most light and flaky treats, croissants, turnovers, etc, they are made perfect with butter, not shortening.
    So where shortening has it's place in cooking, it's not in a pie crust.
    Third, your crust looks perfect!

  19. @Tara@The Butter Dish Thank you Tara!! They are scruffy little tiles indeed but I like the rustic look :) We are having a kitchen makeover soon though so I fear they may be no longer... :(
    Thats true what you say about the light flaky bakery goods, I hadnt thought about that but there we go! Butter is good!

  20. Such a pretty pie crust! I made a peach pie last week and the crust was hideous!

    - Maggie

  21. I am a fellow Smitten Kitchen fan! Deb is a very talented person and so are you!

  22. You did an awesome job!


  23. Your pie crust looks perfect. Amazing!

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  25. Nice classic pie crust - I always use butter in mine also.

    Can hardly wait to see the strawberry filling!

  26. That looks like a pretty good pie crust, Sasha. It has to be butter or a butter/lard mixture. Nothing else will do for flavour or texture. I love the name of your blog! Will be back to check out more tutorials and recipes.

  27. Looks awesome, I feel pie crust can be tricky but girl u nailed it perfectly.........

  28. That looks indeed great! I am saving this for a special occasion.

  29. Wow, you make it seem so easy. I'm going to have to try this recipe. Your crimping is perfect. Bravo!

    I also gave your blog an award, so please do stop by my blog to accept it. Thanks.

  30. Ohhh thats so awesome you show us!
    I need to try this..looks so delicious and professional :-)

    many blessings giiiirl