Who doesn’t like a delicious Flaky Pie Crust, especially one that’s easy to prepare?
I love pie, probably even more than I love cake for dessert. I’ve spent numerous hours in my kitchen, experimenting with various ingredient combinations and methods to create the “perfect” pie crust. And for me, the perfect pie crust is one that is tender, flaky and flavorful. My experimentation was given a big boost at Thanksgiving a few years ago. Robert and I were spending the holiday with good friends, the Saunders, at their home in Scottsdale. Another guest, Carol Todd, offered to make the pecan pie. Her pie was AMAZING, especially the crust. Thankfully she shared her recipe.
The recipe I’m sharing with you below is basically Carol’s pie crust ingredients, with my preparation method. Here are my key tips to keep in mind.
Key tips for a tender, flaky pie crust
- Use a mixture of butter and shortening, if you want both flaky and flavorful. Shortening creates the former, butter the latter. If you only want to use one, go for shortening to keep the flakiness.
- Add the right amount of water. Too much, your crust will be soggy. Too little and it won’t hold together well. I provide detailed instructions on adding the water in the recipe below.
- Don’t overwork the dough; it will become tough. Again, I provide detailed directions below.
- Refrigerate the dough before rolling. This allows the ingredients to bond properly.
- Let the dough sit at room temperature for a few minutes before rolling. If it’s too cold, it’s harder to roll.
- Once rolled and placed in a pie dish, refrigerate the crust again for at least 30 minutes before baking. This will keep it from pulling away from the sides of the pan.
- If you are making a pie ahead, before adding filling and baking, brush inside of crust with an egg wash (beaten egg combined with 1 tablespoon water). This will prevent your pie crust from becoming soggy. For savory pies, you can also brush it with Dijon mustard. If pre-baking your crust, brush after pre-baking but before filling.
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Step by step directions on how to easily make a flaky, light and tender pie crust.
- 1 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon table salt
- 7 tablespoons organic solid vegetable shortening (or mix of unsalted butter and shortening), cut into small pieces and chilled
- 4 to 5 tablespoons cold (ice) water
- Place the flour and salt in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade. Cover and pulse 2 or 3 times to mix.
- Add the cut up shortening (and butter, if using) and process 5 to 10 seconds until the dough is the size of small peas.
- Add 3 tablespoons of cold water and pulse 2 to 3 times. Watch the dough carefully and stop the machine as soon as the dough starts to clump together. It will look rough and lumpy and there may be pieces of shortening. If it looks too dry and crumbly, sprinkle in more water and pulse 1 more time. Pinch the dough together with your fingers; if the dough holds together, it is done. Do not allow the dough to form a ball on the machine blades as it will be overworked and tough.
- Turn dough out onto a piece of plastic wrap. Form the dough into a flat disc, wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes (up to 2 days). Can also be frozen at this point.
- Take dough out of the refrigerator and let it sit at room temperature for several minutes – this makes it easier to roll.
- On a lightly floured work surface, roll dough to an an even 1/8-inch thickness and into a 12-inch circle. Transfer into a 8 or 9-inch pie plate. Fold over edges and crimp.
- Refrigerate crust for at least 30 minutes before baking.
To partially pre-bake crust: Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Prick bottom of crust with a small fork. Line crust with foil and fill with pie weights. Place on a rimmed baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes. Remove weights and foil and continue cooking for another 5 minutes. Set aside to cool.