July 23, 2009 | posted by AKW Jay
I love making pie dough! It’s just about the quickest, easiest and most versatile you’ll find around! You can use this recipe for practically everything including fried pies, empanadas and even samosas! Pie dough is made using a baking technique called the biscuit method. Essentially you cut your fat into flour, add your wet ingredients and viola you have the basic technique used for making scones, biscuits, pie dough, streusel and shortbread! I like an all butter pie dough, without lard or shorting, for the rich butter flavor. Some might say an all butter dough is less flaky than one with lard or shorting, I don’t find that to be true. To me, an all butter crust is the only way to go and that’s coming from a very lactose intolerant chef. One thing I’ve learned for certain in my life is you just can’t beat good butter.
2 1/2 Cups AP Flour – Sifted
1 Tsp. Salt
1 Cup Butter – Cold, unsalted and cut into small cubes 1/2″
1/4 – 1/3 Water – Ice cold
Blend the butter and flour: Cut the cold butter into small 1/2″ pieces and add to the flour and salt. Here is the important part, don’t over blend the fat into the flour! You can use your hands or the pastry blender shown in the pictures. I prefer using my hands because it allows me to really feel the dough and when I’ve blended it enough.
Blend the dough until fat starts to make the flour crumbly. You want to still see large pieces of butter as well as small ones. If you can’t see chunks of butter and your mixture becomes mealy and dry, you’ve over blended the dough.
Start adding the water: Once the butter is cut-in, start adding the ice cold water a 1/4 cup at a time. Temperature and humidity play a huge role in how much water is needed, so the end amount my range a bit. You want to add just enough so the dough forms a ball, but doesn’t feel wet.
Work the dough: Once the dough has formed a ball, work the dough by kneading it 3 or 4 times, just to bring it together and make the dough tight. Cut the dough into four equal pieces, flatten them into discs and place in the refrigerator to rest for at least and hour before using. Each piece will be a perfect size for a top or a bottom crust once pined.
Tips for rolling: The longer the dough rests in the fridge the easier it will be to roll. Use flour when rolling, but try not to be excessive. A nice crust is usually around 3/8″ thick and will not fall apart when handled. Try to remove any excess flour from the pinned dough with a pastry brush.
Tips for blind baking: Blind baking is the process of simply baking the crust before any filling is in it. Doing this helps to ensure a flaky and cooked crust. I only blind bake when I’m using the crust more as a shell, like a tart or a pie that has a filling that doesn’t need to be baked. Generally if my pie does not have pie crust for a top layer, I blind bake.
Here’s how to blind bake with success. Once you pin out your dough, place it in your pie dish, cut off the excess dough, stab it with a fork a few times (a process known as docking) and place it back in the freezer for 10-15 minutes. This allows the gluten to relax and helps the dough not shrink in the oven. Once chilled place a piece of parchment paper over the dough and fill with beans. The beans help the dough to hold its shape when baking.
Storing for the long haul? Pie dough will last about a week in the fridge but will last around six months in the freezer. Just wrap it tight with plastic wrap, place it in a zip lock and put in the freezer. I always make sure to flatten my pie dough into circles before I freeze it. This way it stacks nice and thaws quickly!