What makes a perfect pie crust and how do you make it? Anyone who ever made pie crust from scratch will tell you it sometimes goes well and it sometimes doesn’t. But that’s now how it has to be, what if I tell you that you can get the best pie crust every time?
The biggest challenges with making a great pie crust are the temperature and gluten. As you want to achieve a flake almost crumbly texture, you don’t want the butter to melt into your flour. We also want to avoid activating gluten as that will make it more difficult to roll and form your pie. So here are our five essential tips on how to make the best pie crust.
1. Keep It Cool
One of the most important parts in making pie crust is keeping it cold. If you live in a warm climate or if you have warm hands mixing and kneading the dough can be a challenge. In such situations its best to use a food processor with a blade and pulse the ingredients together.
Don’t let the food processor contentiously run as this will cause friction that will warm and melt your butter.
If you don’t have a food processor and need to use your hands then you will have to use the “rubbing method” which essentially rubs the butter and flour together between your fingers. In this case, you can rinse your hands with cold water before you start. If you feel the butter becoming too soft, pop it in the fridge for 10 to 15 minutes and continue when it’s cool again.
2. Add some Vodka! (or vinegar)
Gluten is the enemy, if you have too much gluten in your Pie crust it will be tough and not flaky. The secret ingredient here is a dash of Vodka. Adding 1 to 2 table spoons of vodka to your dough will make it more malleable and will hold back gluten activation. If you don’t want to add vodka you can replace this with apple cider vinegar at a 1:1 ratio.
Don’t worry about the flavour both the vodka and vinegar will dissipate in the baking process and will leave no after taste.
3. All you Knead is love
There are a few reasons to now over Knead your dough. As you see in tip 1 you don’t want the butter to melt and in tip 2 you don’t want to activate gluten. The more you knead flour-based dough the more chances you have of activating gluten and thus toughening up your precious pie crust.
For the perfect pie crust just lightly knead your dough, literally only combine it with a few rolls and presses. The perfect pie crust has perfect imperfections. 🙂
4. Rolling Rolling Rolling
Flouring your working surface and dough is another important point, lightly flour your working surface and occasionally lift the crust to flour some more. Also, flour your rolling pin to ensure nothing tears or gets stuck. When you roll out the dough it’s likely that your edges will crack, that’s normal and perfectly OK just press them back together and all is well.
Now if you want your pie crust to have the perfect thickness all around, roll the dough out, then flour your rolling pin and carefully roll the dough up on your rolling pin. Then carefully unroll it over your pie dish. To place get a perfect fit, lift the side and with your finger tips push the dough in to all the corners. Let it hang a little over the edge and trim with a knife.
5. Pitch a Tent
Getting a perfect even bake in a home kitchen oven is not quite straight forward, the pie form will not heat evenly and your edges will burn while the centre and bottom might still be raw.
This is why we use a foil tent to bake our pie and here is how its done:
- Cut a sheet of aluminium foil long enough to wrap around your pie dish giving the dish 2-3 centimetres or about an inch of breathing space between the foil and dish.
- Fold in half length wise and wrap around the pie dish. Pinch the two ends together or give them a little tear and fold so they stay together.
- Now fold the top edge lightly over the pie so it covers the edge and a an inch or so of the pie itself.
- Place in the oven and bake with your pie, this will protect the edges from burning and will give you a nice even bake.
Try these tips & tricks when baking you next pie. You will get a great pie crust guaranteed. If you are looking for a great Apple Pie recipe, check out our Homemade Apple Pie. There is also a video on how to make the pie crust and the filling. Until next week Happy Baking