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Pie Crust

(recipe, Helen Rennie)


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Introduction

This versatile recipe, made with a stand mixer, works well for both pies and tarts. For an illustrated version of this recipe, check out Helen's column on dough.

Ingredients

  1. 2½ sticks (20 Tbsp.) butter, chilled
  2. 3 cups (13½ ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour
  3. 1 tsp. table salt (or 2 tsp. kosher salt)
  4. 2 tsp. sugar
  5. 1 cup ice water
  6. 1 tsp. distilled white vinegar

Steps

  1. Freeze the bowl and the flat beater of a stand mixer until cold, about 5 minutes.
  2. Cut the butter into ¼-inch cubes. Place on a plate and freeze for 10 minutes.
  3. Measure the flour. Precision is extremely important here. If you end up with too much flour (which is what happens if you scoop it with a measuring cup), your dough will be tough and hard to roll out. Measuring flour by weight is the only accurate way, so if you have a scale, use it to measure 13½ ounces flour. If you don’t have a scale, stir the flour with a spoon to fluff it, spoon it into a measuring cup, and level off excess with a knife. Do not scoop flour with a measuring cup, as you will compress it.
  4. Attach the chilled bowl and the flat beater to your mixer. Add the flour, salt, and sugar. Mix on low speed until combined, about 30 seconds. Add the butter and toss with your hands to coat each butter cube with flour.
  5. Cover the mixer with a towel to avoid flour splashes, and mix on low until the butter lumps are the size of peas and the mixture is the consistency of oatmeal. Since the bowl is covered with a towel, stop the mixer every 20 seconds to see how it’s going (it’s likely to take about one minute total). If chunks of butter get stuck, scrape down the bowl with a rubber spatula.
  6. Add the vinegar to the ice water and mix well. Measure out ½ cup of this liquid (without ice cubes). With the mixer running on low, slowly drizzle ½ cup liquid into the dough. After all the water is in, give it another 5 seconds and turn off the mixer.
  7. Pick up a chunk of dough and squeeze it in a fist. If the dough holds its shape, it’s done. If it still feels sandy and falls apart as soon as you let it go, turn the mixer back on and drizzle in more water, 1 tablespoon at a time. Test after each addition.
  8. Turn out the dough onto a clean counter and arrange it into a large rectangle (8 inches by 15 inches). Starting on one short side of the rectangle and working your way to the other, smear each bit of dough with the heel of your hand in short quick strokes. The whole procedure should take about 30 seconds, so be quick or the butter will start to melt. This creates layers of butter and flour and will make your dough more flaky. Gather up the dough with a pastry scraper. Divide the dough into two piles.
  9. Force each pile into a thick disk. It might not want to stay together, but you need to show it who’s boss. If it's too crumbly, knead it briefly (just 4 or 5 folds and turns). Sprinkle each disk with flour on both sides, wrap tightly in plastic, and refrigerate at least 2 hours and up to 2 days, or freeze for up to 2 months.

Note

Read more in Helen Rennie's column about pie.