Classic Butter Pie Crust Tips
What type of fat should I use in my pie crust?
Pie crusts can be made with butter, shortening or lard
. While lard and shortening do turn out a tender, flaky crust, the flavor is often lacking. Pie crust recipes
made with butter, like this one, provide tender layers along with a fabulous buttery flavor.
Should my butter be cold?
Yes, always start with cold butter. That way, the heat of the oven will melt it, creating pockets of steam. The steam gives the pastry a lift, resulting in flaky layers. Chill the dough according to the recipe directions and let it soften only slightly before rolling on a lightly floured surface.
How do I mix the dough for a butter pie crust?
When mixing pie dough, a gentle hand is needed to create flaky layers. Overmixing or handling the dough too much will create a tough crust. You can use a fork for the whole process: Toss (don’t press) cold butter and water into the flour until everything is just mixed and thoroughly coated.
If you have a pastry cutter, you can use it to start combining the butter with the flour. Switch to a fork once the butter pieces are pea-sized.
You can also use a food processor
, but you want to pulse it, not let the machine run. Since a food processor will add heat to the mix, you'll need to counteract that heat by making sure the butter is extra cold. We recommend putting the butter in the freezer for 30 minutes before adding it to the processor to make sure it will stay cold enough as you pulse.
How do I roll an even pie crust?
To ensure even rolling, give the pie dough a quarter turn after each roll. This will also help prevent the butter from melting and the dough from sticking to your work surface and rolling pin. Most pie recipes are rolled out to 1/8-inch thick. But just how thick is that? Here’s a handy tip: Two stacked quarters measure 1/8 inches. So keep them nearby for an easy guide. Here are a few more secrets to rolling out pie dough
What should I do if my pie crust rips while I’m rolling it out?
If the dough rips, simply dip a finger in cold water and patch with a bit of extra dough. Gently press, then sprinkle a little flour onto the patch.
How do I make a fluted edge on a butter pie crust?
Flute the pie crust by positioning your index finger on the edge pointing outward. Then place the thumb and index finger of your other hand on the outside of the edge and pinch the butter pie crust around your finger to form a V. Continue around the entire edge. You can also try one of these decorative pie crust ideas
Can I freeze unbaked dough for later use?
Yes, you can freeze unbaked butter pie crust dough for later. Prepare the dough as directed and shape it into a disk. Wrap it tightly in waxed paper and freeze in a freezer container for up to several weeks. When you're ready to bake, thaw the dough in the refrigerator overnight. Or, you can keep prepared butter pie crust dough in the fridge for 3 to 4 days before you roll it out and turn it into your favorite pie. Keep it wrapped well and stored in the pie plate—the cold plate helps keep the butter in the dough cold, resulting in a flaky crust.—Sarah Farmer, Taste of Home Executive Culinary Director
1 piece (1/8 recipe) single-crust pastry: 173 calories, 12g fat (7g saturated fat), 31mg cholesterol, 165mg sodium, 15g carbohydrate (0 sugars, 1g fiber), 2g protein.