[Y]ou 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.Print
Buttermilk Pie Crust
- Prep Time: 0 hours
- Cook Time: 0 hours
- Total Time: 0 hours
- Yield: makes 2 pie crusts 1x
- 2 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cold, cut into cubes
- 1/2 cup cold buttermilk plus 2 to 3 tablespoons more if your dough is dry
- To make the crust, in a medium bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, and salt. Add cold, cubed butter and, using your fingers, work the butter into the flour mixture. Quickly break the butter down into the flour mixture, some butter pieces will be the size of oat flakes, some will be the size of peas.
- Create a well in the butter and flour mixture and pour in the cold buttermilk. Use a fork to bring to dough together. Try to moisten all of the flour bits. On a lightly floured work surface, dump out the dough mixture. It will be moist and shaggy. That’s perfect. Divide the dough in two and gently knead into two disks. Wrap each disk in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour.
- To assemble the pie, remove one of the pie dough disks from the fridge. On a lightly floured surface, roll dough out into about a 13-inch round. Roll the dough a few strokes, then use your fingers to move the emerging circle around the floured surface. This ensures that the dough isn’t sticking to the work surface. The circle won’t be perfect, that’s ok.
- Try not to get any tears in the rolled out dough, but if you do, they can be patched together with extra dough. When you roll the dough and you can see it start springing back, that means that the butter is warming and the crust shouldn’t be rolled out anymore. Gently lift the 13-inch round from the floured surface and center in a deep 9-inch round pie dish. Place in the fridge while you roll out the top crust.
- Roll out the top crust just as you did the bottom crust, moving the dough across the floured surface every once in a while, and creating a roughly 13-inch circle.
- Bake pie according to your particular recipe. Share. Enjoy!
Years ago my daughter and I took a class on pies. The instructor told us to roll our dough on powdered sugar instead of flour. The dough basically rolls the same, but the bottom crust get a bit crispier than soggy especially with creamier pies
Joy the Baker
Oh that’s an incredible idea!
I seem to always have plain or Greek yogurt in the fridge. To make a substitute for buttermilk I just add a little milk or water to it. Works great. I use it for biscuits, pie crusts and about anything that calls for buttermilk.