The Perfect Pie Crust

The Perfect Pie Crust

Recipe courtesy of Sara Bir

Yield: Makes one 9-inch pie crust

Ingredients:

1-1/4 cup (6.5 ounces) all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon sugar
8 tablespoons (4 ounces) unsalted butter, cut into ¼-inch bits
3-4 tablespoons ice water

Preparation: 

On a clean countertop, set out a piece of plastic wrap about a foot and a half long.

Mix the flour, salt, and sugar in a large bowl. Add the butter cubes. Toss with the cry ingredients to coat. With the tips of your fingers, smash and pinch the tiny putter cubes to make crumbles and flakes. You want to break the butter down so all of the blobs are no larger than peas. Stick the bowl in the freezer for a few minutes if the butter starts to feel greasy.

Sprinkle about two tablespoons of the ice water over the mixture. Press together with your hands to form a rough, shaggy mass that holds its shape when pressed; sprinkle in more water, a tablespoon at a time, if the dough seems dry. Shape into a ball, place on the precut plastic wrap, and flatten into a disk. Wrap securely and chill in the refrigerator for at least half an hour before rolling.

Food Processor variation: This is fast and not very messy, but if you go overboard with the pulsing, your crust will be exceedingly tender and not at all flaky. Place the dry ingredients in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade and pulse to combine. Scatter the chilled butter cubes on top of the mixture. With five one-second pulses, cut the butter into the dry ingredients. Add the shortening in little blobs and pulse until the mixture resembles coarse cornmeal.

Turn into a medium bowl. Sprinkle about two tablespoons of the ice water over the mixture. Press together with your hands to form a rough, shaggy mass that holds its shape when pressed; sprinkle in more water if the dough seems dry. Shape into a ball, place on the precut plastic wrap, and flatten into a disc. Wrap securely and chill in the refrigerator for at least half an hour before rolling.

Stand Mixer Variation: The paddle of the stand mixer flattens the fat into tiny disks, yielding a flaky crust. Mix the flour, salt, and sugar in the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Add the butter cubes and mix on low speed. You want to break the butter down so all of the blobs are no larger than peas. Add the shortening in little blobs and continue mixing on low speed until the mixture resembles coarse cornmeal. With the mixer running, sprinkle about two tablespoons of the ice water over the mixture, which will form a rough, shaggy ball. Turn the mixer off and press the mixture together with your hands; it should hold its shape. Sprinkle in more water if the dough seems dry. Remove the dough from the bowl, shape into a ball, place on the precut plastic wrap, and flatten into a disk. Wrap securely and chill in the refrigerator for at least half an hour before rolling.

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