Here in India, chasing after a good, fresh pie crust in the retail space and online space will leave your feet and fingers sore. And if you chance upon one, sore feet and all, the price will surely put you off. Surely there must be another way? Of course. Right under your nose, really. With flour, butter, some chill water and your hands, you hold the power to make the perfect classic pastry crust that is both flaky and light!
My search for the perfect classic pastry crust ended when I landed on a page titled “Perfect Pie Crust”, and there was no looking back after that. That was quite a while ago, and Elise Bauer’s recipe has seen me through many pie crusts; and I hope this adaptation of her recipe sees you through many pie crusts too!
Sure, you can mix margarine and butter (I’ll add the recipe soon) or make one using only butter — it’s totally left up to you. This one’s a classic, all butter fella for both the sweet and the savoury pies.
There are quite a few pre-requisites before you can start though. Everything has to be chill before you start. Whether you are going to use your food processor, or hands (you can dip them in ice cold water and wipe them thoroughly) or your trusty pastry blender. You can chill the blades of your food processor or pastry blender by placing them in your freezer for 15 minutes and then drying them with a cloth just before you start making the pastry crust. You can chill your bowl the same way and wipe it with a clean cloth. The butter has to be chill too. Cut the butter into small cubes and place them in the freezer for a good 15 minutes. As for the water, add ice cubes to it and let it rest in the fridge for 15 minutes. Ensure you remove the ice cube or ensure that they’ve all melted before you start. I’ve included all of my notes and asides in the instructions.
How To Make the Perfect Classic Pastry Crust
- 2 and 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus a little extra for when you have to roll it out
- 1 cup (8 oz) unsalted butter, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 5-7 tablespoons water
- Put the dry items and butter into a bowl, and using your pastry blender blend it all in until you have a coarse mixture, where the largest pieces are roughly the size of peas. If you are using your hand, ensure that the mixing is minimal. If using your food processor, add half the butter first, pulse a few times, then add the remaining butter then pulse until the mixture is coarse.
- Now, slowly add 1 tablespoon of water at a time as you mix it in. Add only enough water so that the dough just about holds itself together. Pulse the food processor only once or twice after each addition of water. Please remember that the lesser you mix everything together, the lesser chance there is of gluten forming, and the formation of gluten is definitely something you want to avoid. You’ll know if the mixture is ready if you hold some in the palm of your hand and press it down in a fist and the dough holds together. That’s why you’ll have to monitor your addition of water. Also, more water = a tough crust.
- Now, empty the crumbly dough mixture onto a clean surface. Push down the mound with the palm of your hand a few times. You’re flattening the butter pieces by doing that and in turn helping your crust be more flaky. You don’t have to push all of it down, though. The bits of butter will ensure you have a flaky crust.
- Bring it all together to form a mound.
- Divide it into two parts and with your hands shape it into a ball. Again, you will have to restrict you kneading in order to prevent the formation of gluten. Because, gluten = tough dough.
- Sprinkle each ball (one to line the bottom of your pie tray and the other to place on the top of your filling) with a little flour, and wrap each one up in cling film. You’ll have to refrigerate them for an hour before you use them. They’ll last in the fridge for up to 2 days.
- Take the crust balls out of the fridge 10 minutes before you have to roll them. Sprinkle some flour on the rolling surface before you roll one of them out into a 3 mm (1/8th of an inch) -thick flat disc. Add more flour if it sticks to the surface. The disc should be much bigger than your 9- or 10-inch pie plate.
- Gently place it onto you pie plate and press it down so that it lines the bottom and the sides. Trim off the excess (that should be about 1 cm [1/2 inch] above the edge of the pie plate).
- Once you add the filling, roll out the second disc like the one above, and go about placing it ever so carefully atop the filling. Trim the excess off, and pinch the ends of the top and bottom pie discs together with your forefinger and thumb.
- Remember to mark the top with holes with the tines of a fork, or make cuts with a knife so the steam can escape.
Perfect Pie Crust (Simply Recipes)