It’s pie time! All pies need crust and before you reach for a package from the store, try this super flaky all-butter pie crust recipe. It’s amazingly simple, contains only good ingredients, and never fails to come out delicious.
Most crust recipes go on and on about ice cold butter and only using your cool fingertips. They may tell you to grate frozen butter on a box grater or freeze the flour before you start. The last thing I want to do when I’m baking is stop and scrub butter off my box grater! Yet I followed these and other instructions until I found this method. My life was transformed!
What Makes Pie Crust Work
The whole reason a pie crust is flaky in the first place is the fat you use in your recipe. Butter is always and forever my favorite fat and it should be yours too! Years ago crust was made from lard and then bakers switched to shortening after was invented. It does make a very flaky crust which for some people makes up for the lack of flavor.
When you work the fat into the flour it makes different sizes of pieces, all of them surrounded by flour. As soon as the crust hits the hot air in your oven, it melts and creates steam. This steam puffs up the coating of flour and that makes your flaky crust.
Keep It Simple!
As I mentioned, there are many ways to ensure those pieces of butter stay in place in the flour instead of blending in like it would in a cookie dough. The wonderful thing with my method is that you use room temperature butter to mix the dough which is so much easier than fiddling with cold butter and a box grater. Just mix in the soft butter, stir in the water, chill the dough, then roll it out.
I’ll give you some tips and tricks after the recipe.
Flaky All-Butter Pie Crust Recipe
Below you see my recipe card with the original recipe which is from a lovely cookbook called Scratch. I’ve modified it over time to use less sugar and all butter instead of coconut oil but feel free to use the recipe on the card if you like. Writing down your favorite recipes is also highly recommended. It’s really nice to pull out a card or open a notebook instead of searching through Pinterest or the internet for a recipe.
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 Tablespoon sugar
- 1 cup plus 2 Tablespoons butter, room temperature
- 1 cup cold water
See! That’s all you’re going to need! In a large bowl, stir together flour, salt, and sugar. Add the butter and mix in with your hands, a knife, or pastry cutter, whichever you like best.
I like to rub the butter in with my hands. Your hands are the best kitchen tool! As you work, toss the mixture together to check for large pieces of butter and rub them into the flour. Check for flour that needs to be mixed in. You are aiming for a crumbling looking mixture without large chunks of butter or loose flour.
Now it’s time to add the cold water. I drizzle it over the crumbly mixture to try to cover as much with a light drizzle of water so it’s easier to mix. A fork is my favorite tool to use to mix in the water. Gently and quickly toss the mixture together. You want to watch for any pockets of dry flour/butter mix and also avoid soaking in too much water. If you feel like it needs more water to come together, add it a little bit at a time and toss together.
When you can gather up the dough into a rough ball then it’s done. It should hold together and not be sticky. If it’s a little bit sticky, don’t worry, it will firm up in the fridge. Trust me, it’s easier than I’m making it sound!
Divide and Chill
Now divide the dough into 2 large or 3 medium portions and shape each into a ball. I flatten each into a disc and wrap in parchment paper. The dough needs to chill for a few hours before you roll it out. You can also make it the day before and chill overnight.
Ready to Roll!
When you are ready to roll the dough, lightly flour your counter and dust the dough with flour. Roll from the center out taking care not to totally flatten the edges of the dough. I rotate the dough every few rolls to keep it from sticking and dust with more flour as needed. Rotating the dough a bit every few rolls will help you make a rounder shape. However, bad things will not happen to you if your dough isn’t a perfect circle. Handmade things are rarely perfect and that’s part of the charm!
Shape and Decorate
When you’ve rolled the crust to an even thickness that’s about 2 inches larger than your pie plate you’re done rolling. I fold the dough into quarters so I can move it easily into the pie plate. Position it in the pie plate and unfold to fit. If the dough tears just press the tear back together. Next your going to trim the extra dough so it’s only overhanging a half an inch or so. Set your scraps aside for later. You can also use scraps to patch any tears or short sections.
Now you are ready to shape and crimp the edges. This is the fun part! I fold the extra edge under to make an even border. After folding it under, I press the edge lightly against my hand to even it out. That even edge will make it easier to get a nice crimped border.
Make it Pretty!
To crimp I pinch the outside edge against my fingertip or knuckle on the inside edge. Lately I’ve been using my knuckle to give a bigger more rounded effect. You can re-roll your scraps and cut out shapes with a mini cookie cutter and decorate the edge with the shapes. I’ve made pastry braids and laid that around the edge too. If you do something like that, brush the edge with milk to make the pieces stick together better.
Once your crust is nice and crimped you can continue with your recipe, either pre-bake it or fill and bake. It’s a good idea to chill the crust for 15 minutes or so just to firm it back up.
Tips and Tricks
- You can use part or all whole whole wheat flour in place of the all-purpose. Spelt flour makes a really nice pie crust, especially for an apple pie.
- This recipe can be doubled to make lots of crusts.
- These crusts freeze really well. I store the wrapped dough in a plastic bag and freeze. When you are ready to use them, thaw overnight in the fridge and proceed as usual.
- You can roll, shape, and crimp the crust and then freeze it in the pie plate if you like. This is a great tip for making ahead since all you need to do is thaw the crust and proceed with your pie recipe.
- For a double crust pie, brush the edges with milk before you put on the top crust so it will seal together. I like to brush the top with more milk and sprinkle with sugar to make a pretty top.
- This recipe is great for savory pies too.
- We make a special snack with the scraps by spreading each with a bit of butter and a sprinkle of cinnamon sugar. Bake at 425° for 10 to 15 minutes. The different shapes and sizes of the scraps make it fun.
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