You know what breaks my heart? Store-bough pie crust. It’s a tragedy. It’s a crime against good pie. It’s illegal in at least eight states. It’s not cool and I just can’t let you do it to yourself. See, store-bought pie crust is usually made up of unpronounceable fats that can’t possibly taste good. What does taste good? Butter in pie crust. Two syllables. Approachable and delicious.
Let’s talk about how to make the best pie crust from scratch. All it takes is a bit of confidence, a good amount of cold butter, tenacity, and a love of pie.
A pastry teacher once told me that ingredients can smell your fear. It’s true. Butter can sense your hesitation. With these tips, I hope you’re inspired to get in the kitchen this holiday season and make a pie. You can totally do it. I’m a believer… and also, I’ll know if you buy a store-bought crust. I have a sense about these things.
Here’s the lowdown on pie crust.
• Flour, sugar, and salt are whisked together.
• Cold, cubed butter is added and broken down into the dry ingredients.
• Buttermilk is stirred in creating a shaggy but moist-ish dough.
• With a wink and a prayer, dough is kneaded together, left to rest in the refrigerator, then rolled out into a buttery, sturdy, soon-to-be-flakey dough.
You can do it, here’s some extra know-how:
1. The first rule of successful pie crust: Keep your butter cold!
See, there’s a reason that our fat starts cold and needs to stay cold before the pie crust hits the oven. Butter is made up of milk solids and water. When cold butter hits a hot oven, the water in the butter evaporates quickly, helping to create a flavorful and flakey crust. When warm, soft butter goes into a hot oven, the butter weeps in the crust before it evaporates. No one wants a weepy butter crust.
2. Dough will be shaggy and that’s just right!
Pea size cold butter chunks dotting the flour mixture will create a shaggy and marbled dough. Keep in mind that your dough will be on the shaggy side of cohesive once you add the buttermilk. It’s not perfect and that’s exactly right.
3. An hour of rest in the refrigerator is essential!
After the dough comes together into a shaggy disk, wrap in plastic wrap or wax paper and refrigerate for 1 hour. This time is everything! It will allow the butter to rechill and allow the moisture to distribute through the dough.
4. Rolling out is a relationship.
Rolling out pie crust requires patience and intention. Once you get the hang of things, it takes about 4 minutes from start to finish ensuring that the dough doesn’t warm and ooze before it’s completely rolled out. Flour a large work surface well. Start in the center of the dough by rolling your pin back and forth with firm even pressure. Pick the dough up and rotate it around the floured surface to make sure the dough isn’t sticking as you roll it out. Don’t worry about making a perfect circle / Don’t worry if you have cracks around the edges / Don’t be scared. You can totally do this.
5. Chill out again!
My favorite pie tins are the small, thin metal pie tins. They house a humble pie and the thin metal heats up quickly in the oven allowing that magical butter/water/evaporation science to create the flakiest pie crust. Allow the pie crust to chill in the refrigerator while the pie baking oven preheats. Butter = Cold.
Let these pies into your heart this holiday season. I want you to want this.
• Bourbon Pecan Pie with Dark Chocolate // Rich and nutty with melted chocolate and bourbon, too! Maybe this pie instead of Thanksgiving turkey? Why not?
• Dad’s Perfect Sweet Potato Pie // No exaggeration when I say this is perfect. Creamy, earthy, not just pumpkin pie, super extra delicious just do it.
• Salty Honey Pie // Sweet, salty, and creamy.
• Creamy Pumpkin Pie Bars // A press-in crust with butter and oats if you’re still intimidated about the whole pie crust situation. I’m looking out for you.