Pie Crust: Step-by-Step Tutorial

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This time of year, with apples abundant, a lot of people’s thoughts turn to pie. A while back, I gave you a fool-proof recipe using cream cheese. That one still works great and it’s very easy, especially for beginners. But this weekend, I didn’t have any cream cheese in the house, so I decided to try a different recipe. I used the one in this month’s Food & Wine magazine’s Test Kitchen column. (It’s not on the web yet or I would link to it…)

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It came out great. Step-by-step instructions, after the jump.

First, cut your butter — 2 sticks — into small pieces. Put the butter back in the fridge to stay cold.

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Next, measure your flour into the cup measure with a big spoon and level it off with a knife. That way you know you have the proper amount of flour: 2 1/2 cup. Put it in the food processor with 1/2 teaspoon salt. Pulse a couple times to mix them.

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Dump in the butter and pulse a few times until the mixture looks like peas. Then slowly add up to 1/2 cup ice water. You may not need it all. You will know your dough is done if when you pinch it, it holds together like this:

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Toss the dough onto the counter. It will look like crumbs:

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Sort of gather it together:

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This recipe is for two crusts, so separate in about halves:

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Before you make it into a ball, take the heel of your palm, and push the dough out across the counter:

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Gather it back together and do it again:

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This helps to make streaks out of the butter and results in a flakier crust. Remember, don’t touch the dough too much. You’ll bring out the gluten, which makes the pie crust denser and less flaky. Dolores — back on the original post — had a great suggestion: treat the dough as if it’s too hot to handle.

Gather it in a ball:

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And flatten into a disc:

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Wrap in plastic wrap and put it in the fridge for at least half an hour; an hour or more is better.

Throw down some flour and start rolling it out. Start from the center and work out toward the top edge, then turn it 1/4 turn and do that again.

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Keep going until it will fit your pie pan.

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Sometimes it doesn’t quite fit:

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That’s OK. Cut some from another spot where it’s too long and cover it up by pinching them together:

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After you’ve made your filling (I’ve got another post for that), roll out your second crust. Here’s a good way to move your crust from countertop to pie pan. Pick it up with your rolling pin:

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And drape it over the pie, releasing from bottom to top:

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Voila:

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I’m THE WORST when it comes to pretty crimping. Just press the two crusts together and do the best you can. It’ll look more homemade that way, is my thinking:

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Be sure to cut steam holes. They can just be slits if you like. I decided to get a little fancy. I even drew little veins in my leaves, but you can’t quite see that:

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For a pretty brown effect, whisk an egg with a little milk and brush it over the crust before you bake:

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This baked at 375 for 1 hour and 10 minutes. It was delicious.

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Double Crust Apple Pie
Adapted from Grace Parisi at Food & Wine

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 sticks butter, cubed
1/2 cup ice water

Cube the butter and put it back in the fridge. Measure the flour and salt. Pulse the flour and salt in a food processor, then add the butter and pulse until it is the size of peas. Drizzle on the ice water and pulse until evenly moistened crumbs form; they will stick together when you press the dough between your fingers. Turn out onto a surface and pull the dough together. Run the heel of your palm along the dough a couple three times. Form into two balls and flatten into discs. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate until firm, about an hour.

Yield: Enough dough for two crusts.

In a food processor, pulse the

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About Author

Liz Johnson is content strategist for The Journal News and lohud.com, and the founding editor of lohudfood, formerly know as Small Bites. As food editor, she won awards from the New York News Publishers Association, the Association of Food Journalists and the Associated Press. She lives in Nyack with her husband and daughter on a tiny suburban lot they call their farm — with fruit trees, an herb garden, and a yardful of lettuce, tomatoes, onions, shallots, cucumbers, zucchini, radishes, cabbage, peppers, Brussels sprouts and carrots and four big blueberry bushes.

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