Time, Temperature, and Restraint make for a Tender Pie Crust
The Pastry Rules
- Give yourself time. Don’t rush, and if possible, make the pastry the day before making the pie. The stress will disappear. Better yet, make a big batch when you are in the mood and tuck the little discs in the freezer. Making pies for many is more fun when the dough making and the pie making are two different days!
- Have everything cold! Really cold. Cube your butter ahead of time and stick it in the refrigerator, or even the freezer for 15 minutes. Tuck your flour in the fridge too if you think of it, but if you didn’t, don’t stress.
- Use pastry flour if you have it, if not all purpose if fine. Pastry flour has a lower protein (gluten) content, and will usually result in a more tender pie crust. All purpose flour also works quite well, but don’t substitute cake flour or bread flour.
- Don’t leave out the salt! It is important if you want your pastry to have flavor. However, if the recipe calls for unsalted butter and you use salted butter, you can reduce the addition of the salt by a little bit, but not all.
- Don’t overwork. When you mix in the butter with the dry ingredients, do so in very short pulses in the food processor, not even a second each, or gentle movements with the pastry blender. This goes double once you add the liquid. When all the liquid is incorporated, you should still have lots of scraggy pieces of unmixed dough floating around.
- Keep your warm hands off the dough. If you have cold hands, disregard this one. Some people chill their hands with ice or ice water when making the dough, but I’m not sure this is practical for most people.
- Chill the dough after it is mixed. This is also essential. The gluten in the flour needs to relax, the flour needs to absorb the water, and the dough needs to get chilled again. Chill for a half hour, but longer is fine too. If it is rock hard, take it out a few minutes before you plan to roll out.
- Gently form the dough into a disc before rolling out.
- Lightly flour the rolling surface. Too much flour will affect the dough. If your dough sticks, slip a long string of dental floss under it to loosen.
- Roll out gently from the middle of the dough, turning it a quarter turn every couple of strokes. Do not roll over the outside edge or you will end up with really thin edges, and you’re trying for an even roll.
- When you place your dough in the tin, do so gently so you don’t stretch it.
- Always preheat your oven before baking, and place on a baking sheet to prevent damaging your pretty edges.
- Chill again. It’s always a good idea if you have time to put the shell back in the refrigerator to chill again before filling and baking. This helps to keep it flakey, and the keep the decorative edging.
- Protect the edges of your pie from becoming too dark with foil or a guard if you are baking the cake longer than 55 minutes to an hour.
© Copyright 2019 – or current year, The New Vintage Kitchen. Unattributed use of this material is strictly prohibited. Reposting and links may be used, provided that credit is given to The New Vintage Kitchen, with link and direction to this original post.
The New Vintage Kitchen does not accept ads or payment for mention of products or businesses.