Top | Pies and Tarts, Crisps and Crumbles

Pie Dough

(recipe, Carrie Floyd)


It's not hard to make pie dough, but sometimes it seems like too much effort when contemplating dessert. Because of this, I make more pie dough than necessary and freeze the extra disks of dough for another pie, another day. This adaptation from Chez Panisse Fruit makes enough dough for two double-crusted pies or 4 shells. Though many people will tell you not to use your hands when mixing dough because they're too warm, for me it's the only way.


  1. Ice water
  2. 4 cups all-purpose, unbleached flour
  3. 1 tsp. salt
  4. 1 cup trans-fat-free shortening, chilled
  5. 2 sticks (½ pound) frozen unsalted butter, cut into cubes


  1. Place several ice cubes in a large glass. Fill the glass with water and place it in the freezer until needed.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour and salt. Spoon the shortening into the flour and roll it around so that it's covered with flour. Place your hands into the flour to coat your fingers, then break up the shortening into tablespoon-size pieces. Add the cubes of butter and, with your hands, roll them around in the flour before pinching them into pea-sized bits.
  3. Measure out ½ cup ice water and sprinkle it over the dough. With your hands, toss the flour mixture together. If the dough is very dry, add a few tablespoons water and toss the mixture together again with your hands; if it is still too dry to push into a big lump, add a bit more ice water. The idea is to use only enough water to bring the dough together.
  4. Once the dough has enough water, you'll be able to smoosh it into a big, loose, crumbly ball. Divide this into quarters, place each quarter onto a square of plastic wrap, and wrap the plastic wrap around the dough. Press the dough into a disk. Do the same with the remaining dough.
  5. Refrigerate the dough disks for at least 30 minutes before rolling them out. (You can store the dough in the fridge for a few days or in the freezer for a few weeks.)
  6. When it’s time to roll out the dough, unwrap a disk onto a lightly floured surface. Using your hands, press together any cracks around the edges. Gently flatten the disk, then, using as little flour as possible, roll it out into a 13-inch circle that is roughly ⅛ inch thick. With a dry pastry brush, brush off any excess flour, then transfer the rolled-out pastry to a pie plate and refrigerate until ready to fill.
  7. To bake, follow the instructions of your particular pie recipe. That said, whether I’m prebaking a single shell or baking a double-crusted pie, I like to start it at a high temperature, say 425 degrees for 15 minutes, to set the dough, then turn the oven down (350 to 375 degrees) to complete the baking. A double-crusted fruit pie is done when the crust is a dark golden brown and the juices are bubbling.


I use shortening exclusively for making pie dough and keep it stored in the back of the fridge so it's always cold, ready for making dough.