Flour. Butter. Sugar. Salt. Water. These are the basic ingredients that you need to make a perfect pie crust. While the ingredients may appear simple in nature, the magic happens in the ratio of the ingredients and the techniques used.
Pie was never my thing. I have been more a tart fiend, than a pie fanatic. But that has changed in recent years, especially since our family moved to Nashville, ya’ll! I have loved discovering just how pie is interwoven into the southern culture, much like those lovely lattice topped pies you see adorning a southern table. Never one to shy away from a baking adventure, I grabbed my apron and pastry cutter and set out to create my perfect crust. I think I have it here friends, and it works out beautifully in these Sweetie Jar Pies.
This recipe will yield a double crust for a 9 inch pie.
2¼ cups (310 grams) unbleached all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon table salt
2 tablespoons sugar
8 ounces (2 sticks/16 tablespoons/227 grams) unsalted butter, cold, preferably European style
6-8 tablespoons ice water
How To Use Them:
The most important thing to remember when making pie crust is to keep all of the components ice cold. If I know I’m making pie crust ahead of time, I place the bowl and the pastry cutter in the freezer a few hours before hand.
Cut the butter into 16 tablespoons and place in the freezer. Sift the flour, sugar and salt into a large bowl and whisk to incorporate all of the ingredients. Remove the butter from the freezer and add it to the flour. Using the pastry cutter, press down to cut the butter into the flour. Keep cutting the butter in until you have dime size pieces. Okay, okay, I know you are thinking….“wait a minute, isn’t it pea size pieces?” Every recipe that I have ever come across in baking instructs the reader to cut the butter to pea size pieces, however, I have found that slightly larger pieces work best and give you incredibly flaky crust. The science behind a perfect pie crust is to have shards of butter layered throughout the dough and so when you have a cold pie crust hitting an extremely hot oven, the water from the butter immediately turns into steam allowing the dough to rise and create layers upon layers of flaky crust.
Once you have cut all the butter in, begin adding the ice water. I initially stir in 4 tablespoons of the ice water and stir it about 2-4 times to incorporate. If the dough still appears dry, add in one tablespoon at a time until the dough holds together when you squeeze it.Turn the dough onto work surface and gather into a mound of dough. Divide the dough in half and shape into two 6 inch disks. Wrap the disks in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before using.Congratulations friends! You are now the proud owner of one perfect pie crust that you can roll out for your favorite pie recipe.
See those beautiful layers of smeared butter? That’s what will create those applause worth flaky crusts.