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Get Perfectly Flaky Pie Crust Everytime With These Easy Steps
Perfect pie crust is flaky and flavorful and easy to work with. These step-by-step instructions will show you how the dough should look at each stage. We're using this pie crust recipe, but the method can be used with any recipe you like.
Start with very cold butter and/or lard that has been cut into small pieces and scatter them on top of the dry ingredients that you've already combined (here you see 1 1/4 cups flour and 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt, with 1 or 2 tablespoons of sugar for sweet pies for a single crust pie, and a total of 7 tablespoons of butter and/or lard).
Tip: If it is hot out or your kitchen gets warm, cut the butter and/or lard into small pieces and put them in the freezer for 10 minutes or so right before you're going to start the crust.Continue to 2 of 10 below.
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Work Butter Into Flour
Use a fork, two knives, a pastry cutter, or just your fingers to work the butter and/or lard into the flour.
Many people prefer to use a food processor to make pie crust dough. If this includes you, pulse in half the amount of butter/fat until the mixture looks like cornmeal, then add the remaining butter/fat and pulse until there are pea-sized chunks of butter/fat within the mixture.Continue to 3 of 10 below.
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Cornmeal With Large Chunks
Work the butter and/or lard into the flour until all of the flour resembles cornmeal with some larger pieces of butter and/or lard still in the mix and some of the flour-as-cornmeal is starting to cling together into larger, shaggy bits.Continue to 4 of 10 below.
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Drizzle Very Cold Liquid Into Pie Crust Dough
Quickly drizzle in the liquid—preferably chilled—that the recipe calls for. Most pie crust recipes use water, but some include some acid, like lemon juice or cider vinegar, to keep the dough tender, and some cooks swear by vodka (the alcohol content makes it more difficult to overwork the dough). 2 to 3 tablespoons is a good amount for the proportions of flour (1 1/4 cups) and fat (7 tablespoons) for a single pie crust.Continue to 5 of 10 below.
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Stir Liquid Into Pie Crust Dough
Use a fork to stir the liquid into the pie crust dough, or pulse the food processor. There is no need to panic, but you do want to work quickly so the dough stays relatively cold. Keeping stirring the pie crust dough until it starts to pull into shaggy chunks and pulls away from the sides of the bowl just a bit.Continue to 6 of 10 below.
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Pie Crust Dough Holds Together
Gently knead dough into a solid mass. Unlike bread dough, which you work in order to develop the gluten (protein in wheat that creates the structure in a loaf of bread). When you make pie crust you want to develop as little gluten as possible. So while you want to make the dough come together as one, you want to work it only just enough to make that happen. So when you "gently knead" the pie crust dough, you're really just sort of squeezing it lightly into a ball, ideally kneading just a few times until the comes together in a ball as pictured.Continue to 7 of 10 below.
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Pat Pie Crust Dough Into a Disk
Turn the pie crust dough out onto a piece of plastic wrap and gently pat it into a disk. Forming the dough into the basic shape you will eventually roll it out into will make the rolling out that much easier. Wrap the dough and chill it for at least 30 minutes. Most doughs will keep for up to 3 days chilled or, double wrapped and sealed in a plastic bag, frozen for up to 6 months.Continue to 8 of 10 below.
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Put on a Floured Surface
Put the disk on a floured work surface. Put plenty of flour down, then sprinkle a bit on top.Continue to 9 of 10 below.
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Roll out the Dough
Roll out the dough, being careful not to push down on the edges. Turn the dough 90 degrees between each pass with the rolling pin to keep it from sticking to the work surface. Add more flour to prevent sticking, as needed.Continue to 10 of 10 below.
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Chill & Ready to Bake
Once rolled out, you can fold it (with wax paper or plastic wrap between the folds) or lay it in a pie pan (or whatever vessel you'll use), before covering and chilling for at least 30 minutes and up to overnight before filling or baking.
Dough at this stage can also be frozen for up to 3 months.
When transferring dough to a pie pan, let the dough drop into the edges or corners, rather than pushing or pinching it in—this will help decrease the amount the dough with shrink and break as it bakes.
For more information and tips see these 10 tips for perfect pie crust, then get baking!