We figure we can’t repeat too often our formula for the flakiest, most tender pie crust - so here it is. The instructions are thorough, and the method can apply to your own favorite crust recipe.
The method you use to put pie pastry together will, to some degree, determine the type of crust you end up with.
Our latest favorite pie crust recipe uses a combination of butter (for flavor) and lard or vegetable shortening (for flakiness); an unbleached flour of about 10.5% protein (such as our Mellow Pastry Blend); buttermilk powder (for tenderness) and baking powder (for extra flakiness); salt; and vinegar (again, for tenderness) and water. Here’s the formula for a single-crust pie; just follow the directions above.
1 1/2 cups (6 1/2 ounces) Mellow Pastry Blend or King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
1 tablespoon (1/8 ounce) buttermilk powder (optional)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 cup (1/2 stick, 2 ounces) butter
1/4 cup (1 1/2 ounces) lard or vegetable shortening
1 teaspoon white or cider vinegar
3 to 5 tablespoons (1 1/2 to 2 1/2 ounces) cold water
For a flaky, tender crust (as opposed to one that’s harder, mealy, and more cookie-like), the following works well.
Whisk together all of the dry ingredients, reserving a few tablespoons of the flour. Cut in half of the fat, working the mixture until it’s mealy and crumbly.
Place the reserved flour on your work surface, and coat the remaining fat with the flour. Use a rolling pin or the heel of your hand to flatten the fat till it’s about 1/2-inch thick. Break this flour-coated fat into 1-inch pieces, and mix it into the dough, just till it’s evenly distributed; some of the pieces of flour-coated fat should break into smaller pieces.
Sprinkle the liquid(s) over the dough while tossing with a fork. Just as soon as the dough becomes cohesive (i.e., you can squeeze it into a ball easily), stop mixing; there should still be visible pieces of fat in the dough. Flatten the dough into a disk and wrap it in plastic wrap or waxed paper. Refrigerate for 30 minutes or longer; this resting period allows the flour to absorb the water, making the dough easier to roll out.
Flour your work surface and roll the dough into a 12 x 9-inch (approximately) rectangle. If it isn’t holding together well, sprinkle it lightly with a couple of teaspoons of water. Fold the dough into thirds (like a letter), then fold it into thirds the opposite way, to form a rough square. Wrap it well and refrigerate again.
When you’re "ready to roll," remove the dough from the fridge. If the dough is made with all lard and/or vegetable shortening, you’ll be able to work with it directly from the refrigerator. A dough made with all butter will need to warm slightly (10 to 15 minutes) before rolling, as butter becomes brittle when it’s refrigerated. Dough made with a combination of butter and shortening should rest for about 5 minutes at room temperature before rolling. Roll the dough to the size needed (about 13 inches for a 9-inch pie). Fill and bake as directed in your recipe.
Note: in this particular recipe, cut all of the lard or vegetable shortening into the flour, then coat the butter with flour before adding it to the dough.
This recipe printed from The Baking Sheet® (Vol. XII, No. 6, Autumn 2001 issue). The Baking Sheet is a newsletter published six times a year by King Arthur Flour. To order a subscription to The Baking Sheet, call The Baker's Catalogue at 1.800.827.6836.
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