Pie Crust 101

in Desserts, DIY, How-To

Pie Crust 101 // www.acozykitchen.com

Pie is my love language. And this week I’ll be serenading you with butter and caramel and fruit. It’s PIE WEEK!

Each day I’ll be bringing you a new pie. Some will be classics with small twists; other’s will be new-to-me (and you, hopefully) combinations.

Thanksgiving is next week and if you’ve worked it right, you’ve got the savory stuff down. You have your turkey reserved and situated. Dessert, though, might still be up in the air. If so, I urge you to make a lil’ pie. What’s great is that all of these pies can be made the night before and then served the next day. They all keep well.

I’ll admit that the first time I made pie, years ago, it was a complete disaster. I blame myself for being a terrible reader of instructions AND pies aren’t “easy as pie.” (That might be the most inaccurate, idiotic idiom I’ve ever heard.)

Pie has its challenges, though it’s definitely not impossible. Hopefully these tips and photos will help make you successful at da pie-a-makin’.

Pie 101 // www.acozykitchen.com

INGREDIENTS: Freeze your butter. Start with frozen butter. I generally freeze the butter for about an hour or so prior to starting.

Step 1: Possible obvious advice: Careful when measuring out your dry ingredients. I always weigh out my dry ingredients (because I actually find it easier than dirtying up cup measures). If you do use cup measures, make sure to fluff the flour, scoop it and then level it off with a butter knife.

Step 2: Use a box grater to cut up the butter. I find this WAY easier than breaking it up using a pastry cutter. Just shred the frozen butter atop the mixed dry ingredients. The end goal when making pie dough is to get the butter to resemble pea-sized bits; well, if you use a box grater, you’re already there. This makes it so you handle the flour mixture less, which will result in a tender pie crust.

Step 3: The key to good pie crust is everything should be cold, cold, COLD! This includes the water. I usually drop a few ice cubes into the water so the water is chilly.

Step 4: I usually add about 50% of the water I need to the dry ingredients, mix it together, AND then add more water a tablespoon at a time, until the dough comes together. Knead the dough a good ten times and form it into one cohesive ball. If it’s a bit shaggy, no biggie. When the dough rests in the fridge, the moisture will disburse throughout.

Step 5: This is a double-crust, so I slice it in half and reshape the dough into two discs. You should see the butter striated throughout the dough, creating layers of butter and flour.

Step 6: Let the dough rest. Resting the dough for an hour usually does the trick, but ideally it should be kept overnight. Have you ever had problems with your pie crust shrinking in the oven? This usually happens because there’s too much water in the dough and/or the gluten in the flour hasn’t had enough time to relax. Overnight is always better.

Pie 101 // www.acozykitchen.com

Step 7: Have you ever started rolling, only to find out the pie dough starts to crack on you?! Very frustrating. Allow the dough to sit on a floured work surface for about 10 minutes. This way it’ll shake off its chill, making it easier to roll out.

Step 8: Flour everything. Everything!! Press your rolling pin and roll outward. Give it one push, then rotate the disc a quarter turn, and repeat the process until the pie dough has reached about a 13-inch circle. Keep flouring, too. If the dough seems like it’s sticking to your counter, lift it and sprinkle a little flour underneath.

Step 9: The transfer. I like to do it grandma style by rolling the dough onto the rolling pin and then laying it over my pie pan. Some people like to fold it like a business letter and then transfer it. Both work fine.

Step 10: Trim the dough, leaving about a 1/2-inch overhang. There will be a bit of shrinkage, so just prepare for it.

Step 11: Crimp, if you like! Or braid it. You can also take a fork and create little indentations. Place the pie pan in the freezer for 20 minutes. This is also a good time to preheat your oven. If you’re filling it with fruit, do it post-freezer trip.

Supplies:

Here’s what I like and why.

1. Pie Pan – Glass. I like this Pyrex one. I love vintage-y pie pans I find at yard sales, but they heat unevenly and get way too hot. I like that the Pyrex ones are inexpensive and see-through so I can see how the crust is doing.

2. French rolling pin. These are inexpensive, better looking (in my opinion) and way less heavy than the traditional ol’ handle rolling pins.

3. Box grater. See above for my long-winded, very passionate reason why I use a box grater! Another thing that would work is a food processor with the cheese grater attachment. But do we really want to clean a food processor? Not really.

Take the jump for the recipes!

Double Pie Crust:

Print the recipe!

2 1/2 cups (312.5g) all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon (15g) white granulated sugar
1 1/2 teaspoon (7g) fine-grain sea salt
2 sticks (226g) unsalted butter, frozen
3/4 cups very cold water, divided

Single Pie Crust:

1 1/2 cups (187g) all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons (8g) white granulated sugar
3/4 teaspoon (3g) fine-grain sea salt
1 stick (113g) unsalted butter, frozen
4 tablespoons very cold water, divided

1. In a large bowl, mix together the flour, sugar and salt. Using a box grater, grate the cold butter atop the flour mixture. Working quickly, and using your hands, break the butter bits into the flour until they’re evenly distributed and resemble the size of small peas. Add a 50% of the recommended water and mix. The mixture will be shaggy at this point. From here, add 1 tablespoon of water at a time until the dough comes together. Flour your counter and dump the dough onto it. Knead a few times more until it comes together. If making a double pie crust, divide the dough, forming two discs. Wrap the disc(s) in plastic wrap and transfer to the refrigerator to chill for at least 1 hour, ideally overnight.

2. Remove the disc(s) of dough from the refrigerator and allow to come to room temperature for 10 minutes. Liberally flour your work surface and rolling pin. Begin to roll the dough, being sure to rotate it every so often to avoid sticking, to a 13-inch round. Wrap the dough around the rolling pin and unroll it over the pie tin. Gently fit the dough into the bottom and up the sides of the pie tin. Trim the dough around the pie tin, leaving a 1/2-inch overhang. Using your thumb and forefinger, crimp the rim of the crust into a v-shape. Transfer the pie crust to the refrigerator to chill for 30 minutes. Roll out the second disc of dough and use as you like, whether it’s as a top to your pie, decorated cut-outs or an elaborate pie trim.

{ 47 comments… read them below or add one }

Kiran @ KiranTarun.com November 18, 2013 at 2:17 am

I’ve lattice before but can’t wait to try the braiding technique! Thanks for all the useful pie crust tips!!

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Marie @ Little Kitchie November 18, 2013 at 3:33 am

This is an amazing post – awesome job! Going to save this to read and reference again and again!

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ileana November 18, 2013 at 3:52 am

Wish I had this yesterday before I made a pie! It turned out delicious, but I need to practice my crimping. ;)

Great post!

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Elisa @ Insalata di Sillabe November 18, 2013 at 4:04 am

Such a great and super useful post, thank you Adrianna! Plus, I can’t wait to add the pie recipes you’ll be sharing with us this week to my repertoire!

xo, Elisa

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Monica November 18, 2013 at 4:54 am

What a great tutorial! The pie crusts look simply gorgeous.

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Belinda@themoonblushbaker November 18, 2013 at 7:57 am

I can not wait to see more of your pie recipes, your pies always look perfect. I love the tips you have given to us. Hopefully this year I can make my own pie with crust like yours.

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Toby @ brag & butter November 18, 2013 at 9:51 am

Thanks for sharing this, the result looks wonderfully smooth! It’s always nice to see how others do their crust. Over the yrs I have developed a habit and liking for a higher butter content (i go 3-2-1 flour-butter-sugar) and have substituted the flour for rolling out with baking parchment and cling – works really nicely. Can’t wait to see more of #PIEWEEK!

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Adrianna Adarme November 18, 2013 at 9:56 am

Dang gurl. That’s a lot of butter. Go on with your awesome self. :)

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Francesca November 18, 2013 at 9:55 am

Grated butter?! Genius! Now I won’t have to bend and ruin my fork! :D

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Amy November 18, 2013 at 9:55 am

excellent post – especially because you use the method I thought I invented with frozen butter and the box grater :-)Question : can pecan pies be fully made and frozen? If not up to which point can they be pre-made?

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Adrianna Adarme November 18, 2013 at 9:58 am

Pies act a little funny when they’re frozen. I wouldn’t recommend it. I’d recommend making the pie crust, freezing the pie dough, and then thawing it in the fridge…and then proceeding with the recipe from there.

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Anna Marie Flaherty November 18, 2013 at 12:26 pm

How long do you thaw the crust in the fridge? I ask because I’m planning making a couple of pies for Thanksgiving, but making the crust, freezing the dough, and traveling about 4 hours north with the crust in a cooler (probably colder than the fridge) then putting it either in the fridge or freezer when I get there and assembling everything and baking thanksgiving morning. Long explanation to the question! Awesome post, I’m going to try the braided crust on one of the pies!

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Adrianna Adarme November 18, 2013 at 1:01 pm

That sounds like a great plan. I usually find that about 24 hours in the fridge thaws it completely. You should be a-ok because you’ll be driving with it in the cooler and then it’ll be in the fridge the night before. :)

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Rebecca November 18, 2013 at 10:43 am

Great tips!! I really need to use a grater the next time, it is such a great tip but everytime when it comes to pie making I forget about it and cut the butter in small pieces as I am used to do… in the end I always have some small butter knobs in the batter. So note to myself, next time do use a grater!!! ;)
thanks for the tips!!

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Cindysoo November 18, 2013 at 10:48 am

Besides the fact that your pie crusts are beautiful, I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE your marble counters!!

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Nikita November 18, 2013 at 12:21 pm

Hey,

Thanks for the recipe and techniques. Could you please highlight on the technique to mix butter with flour? If I just mix flour, butter with water than there will be lumps of butter in the flour. Someone once told me that one should rub the flour and butter between the palms before adding water… What would you suggest?

Thanks,
Nikita

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Adrianna Adarme November 18, 2013 at 12:59 pm

Hi Nikita! Mix the dry ingredients together, grate the butter atop the dry ingredients and then mix with your hands, breaking up the butter bits with your fingers. It’s ok if there are bits of butter throughout–it’s supposed to be this way. The butter bits should be about the size of peas. Keep tossing, making sure the butter bits are distributed evenly throughout the flour mixture. THEN pour in the water and mix.

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cindy November 18, 2013 at 2:12 pm

I prefer a french pin too, my mom and my aunts all have the kind with handles and they always become loose! WTF…we do not have time for that! PS, your crimps are so pro!

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Adrianna Adarme November 18, 2013 at 2:14 pm

Ain’t got time fo dat!!!! (PS Thanks lady! x)

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Jen @ Fresh from the... November 18, 2013 at 2:21 pm

Oh man, pie crusts seriously intimidate me for some reason. Is it the cold? Is it the rolling? I don’t know!

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Bec {Daisy and the Fox} November 18, 2013 at 3:01 pm

love love love the braided crust!!
gotta try this sometime :) (good excuse with Christmas coming up :) )
looking forward to your numerous pie recipes! :D

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Danielle @ TheBestDessertRecipes.com November 18, 2013 at 3:23 pm

What a great pie post! It’s so helpful. I especially love the image at the top! Good job!

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Elisha November 18, 2013 at 3:46 pm

Freezing and grating the butter is genius!! I’d love to see a gluten free version. Do u think u could just swap the all purpose flour for gluten free all purpose flour?? I recently became gluten free so maybe I will try it out and let u know :)

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Adrianna Adarme November 19, 2013 at 8:28 am

It should work! I’d go with Bob’s Red Mill all-purpose gluten flour or Cup-4-Cup. Good luck and let me know how it goes.

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Kasha the FarmGirl November 18, 2013 at 6:50 pm

I LOVE LOVE LOVE your method of grating the butter. I will never make biscuits any other way again!

Thanks, Adrianna :)

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Laura (Tutti Dolci) November 18, 2013 at 7:56 pm

Prettiest pie crusts, I adore the braid!

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Beachlady November 18, 2013 at 10:23 pm

Thank you so much!!! I always have pie crust shrinkage issues, so I am super excited to try this method next week.

(Also I totally love this site.. Thanks for doing what you do. )

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Adrianna Adarme November 19, 2013 at 8:27 am

If you always have shrinkage issues, definitely freeze your pie crust for about an hour and then pop it in the oven. It should work!

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Connie | URBAN BAKES November 19, 2013 at 12:07 am

You have made the most perfect and even pie crusts ever! It’s unbelievable at how well you made it. You def know your stuff.

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Amanda @ Once Upon a Recipe November 19, 2013 at 12:02 pm

This post is just what I need to help me overcome my fear of making pies from scratch! Can’t wait to give it a go!

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Leah November 19, 2013 at 5:59 pm

Wow. I just made this. I have been making another crust recipe for a few years now, and while it is a big hit with the crowds, it is something that I have to mentally prepare myself for, because the messy-crumbly-floury-rolling-out part is SO FRUSTRATING!! It is NO WHERE NEAR as easy as this was. I mean seriously, comparing the two, this one is literally easy as pie, it’s so cohesive and well-behaved. We’ll see how it goes over at the put luck tomorrow! But, I can tell from those butter/flour layers peaking out at me, it’s gonna rock. Thanks!

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Adrianna Adarme November 19, 2013 at 6:12 pm

Weeeeee! YAY! This makes me so happy. Hope everyone likes it tomorrow. Thanks for the feedback!

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Shikha @ Shikha la mode November 22, 2013 at 12:28 pm

These are some great tips! I usually can get by until it comes time to lattice/braid/do anything pretty with the edge of the crust. Teach me your ways!

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Julie November 24, 2013 at 8:19 pm

I’ve been looking for a good guide to pie crust and this is one of the better ones that I’ve found! Just to make sure I’m not messing things up in my head is the one stick of butter for the single crust 4 Tbsp or 8 Tbsp?

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Adrianna Adarme November 24, 2013 at 8:22 pm

8 tablespoons for the single crust. :)

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Jaime November 27, 2013 at 6:58 pm

Thank you for this! Seriously. Pie crust has always eluded me for some reason, but this helped. I have one double resting now and I’m getting ready to make up another batch. I can now say, I am no longer afraid of making pie crust.

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Adrianna Adarme November 27, 2013 at 7:21 pm

Yesssss! So awesome. Happy Thanksgiving!

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Eva November 27, 2013 at 8:17 pm

FYI: One stick of butter is 113 grams, not 57 grams. I ]went to cut a portion from a pound of butter and thought it looked really small at 57 grams, so I recalculated the math.

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Adrianna Adarme November 27, 2013 at 9:49 pm

Yes yes yes. Oof. Thanks for catching it. All fixed now!

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Moss November 27, 2013 at 8:22 pm

Hi! Just had to thank you for this. I love to cook and bake but have always been terrified of pie crust. I used your method today and it worked flawlessly. Never again will I use store-bought crust! It was so easy with your tips and instructions and it came out gorgeous! Thanks and happy holiday!

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Alexandra M December 4, 2013 at 7:08 pm

Great tips! I was wondering if you know if using a convention oven would affect the way a pie comes out. I made an apple pie this past thanksgiving making the crust out of butter and flour i used many of the same tips you listed but at one point the pie crusted started foaming while baking and the crust came out very chewy. I was just wondering if not using an actual oven would affect the crust being cooked properly?

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Adrianna Adarme December 4, 2013 at 7:30 pm

Hmm…I’m not totally sure since I’ve never actually baked with a convention oven. Part of me wonders if a convection oven can get to a true 400 degrees F. And part of me feels like the heat source might’ve been too close to the actual pie, hence the foaming up. Just a thought, though, not totally positive.

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Anjali March 15, 2014 at 3:51 am

You are amazing , you have given a detailed and comprehensive tutorial on making crusts , covered all the trouble spots , its like…yes that happens to me , yes even this….thanks for sharing the valuable info .I am going to follow these like the gospel truth.

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Adrianna Adarme March 16, 2014 at 10:50 am

YAY! I hope you have success with this.

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Claire April 3, 2014 at 9:57 am

Best pastry recipe ever! Thank you so much!

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Jesse May 3, 2014 at 1:58 pm

Loved the double crust recipe– was very, very successful with the first few pie crusts. I just tried the single, though, and didn’t have as much luck. Is there a reason that there’s such a higher proportion of flour in the single recipe compared to the double? Not knowing anything about baking, I followed the recipe exactly, but I had lots of trouble with the dough being too dry and cracking, even after letting it sit on the counter before rolling.

Thanks for the great post!

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Adrianna Adarme May 3, 2014 at 7:06 pm

Holy crap. What the heck am I doing. I’m so sorry about that. You’re totally right. It should be just halved. That’s what my intention was: to just do the math for everyone and I did it wrong. AHH! So sorry. Please accept my apologies. Changing it now!

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