Pie crust is one of those deceptively simple things to make. The ingredients list is super short. Basic pie crust is literally just flour and a fat (butter, lard, shortening, etc.), with a little water added to make it all stick together. Getting that buttery, flaky, firm, but still soft is almost entirely a matter of technique. Temperature, time, and the amount of handling, rolling, and kneading make all the difference between a crust that’s dry and hard versus moist and tender.
To be completely honest, I used to think I hated pie crust. I’d had very few that didn’t dry my mouth out and leave me suspecting that pies were the invention of someone who had not yet discovered cobbler. Then I tried my hand at making it and it was even worse. I now know that I likely kneaded it into oblivion and let my butter get much too warm, but at the time I did not yet understand that when baking, the exact same set of ingredients can respond very differently to small differences in how they are handled. I also had not discovered what is possibly the worst kept secret in baking; using a food processor to making pie crust.
Seriously ya’ll, this is the most ridiculously simply solution to one big pain in the butt problem. Perfectly amazing pie crust is completely possible without a food processor, but it takes a lot more practice. It is an art, and much respect to those who have mastered it. I have not. Instead, I have embraced the glory of perfect pies being just a few pulses of my food processor away.
Perfect Pie Crust
- 2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
- 1 cup butter (very cold, unsalted, 2 sticks)
- 1 tsp salt
- 6 tbsps ice water
Cut butter into small pieces of about 1 tbsp or less each.
Place butter, salt, and roughly half the flour into the food processor together. Pulse until combined. This should only take a few pulses. It will not be smooth, but should look more like bread crumbs. You should not have loose flour in the bottom.
Add the other half of the flour and pulse again until combined. The mixture should, once again, look mealy, but not powdery. Think bread crumbs, not loose flour.
Drizzle in the water with processor running until dough forms. It should form very quickly. Turn it off as soon as you've formed a dough ball.
Remove dough from food processor, gently shape into a disc, then wrap in plastic wrap. Place in freezer to chill for at least 30 minutes. If you want to freeze it and save it for another time, you can go ahead and leave it in the freezer at this point.
After dough has chilled, roll it out on a lightly floured surface, then lay over rolling pin to transfer it to your pie pan.