A homemade pie crust always beats store-bought. But, is learning how to make pie dough difficult?
Contrary to what you may think, creating homemade pie dough from scratch is not difficult.
As long as you follow the proper procedure, pay attention to the texture, and follow a sound pie dough recipe, you will be able to make a homemade pie crust, and by extension a homemade pie. So, let's learn how to make pie dough together!
First off, is it best to make pie dough with a food processor or your hands?
Call me old-fashioned, but I thoroughly enjoy making my dough by hand with a pastry blender. I find it much easier to control the texture when I can feel it in my hands.
If you would rather not get your hands dirty, you can still follow a pie dough recipe by using a food processor as well. But make sure the food processor is large enough for all of the ingredients to fit.
Ultimately, both methods work. It is simply up to your preference.
A classic recipe starts with
- Flour: Flour makes up the basis of the dough. All-purpose flour is the usual go-to. For the most accurate measuring, use a kitchen scale. Scales are beneficial when it comes to dough making and accuracy.
- Sugar: Not all dough recipes will specify sugar, it is optional, but a small amount really does wonders for the flavor of the overall crust.
- Salt: The salt is in the dough to enhance the flavor of the crust.
- Cold Butter: It is absolutely essential for a proper pie crust, that you use cold butter in the dough. See below for more details.
- Water: This is the trickiest ingredient in making pie dough. You want it moist enough that it comes together, but not so much so that it is a sticky mess.
How to Make Pie Dough By Hand
Time needed: 15 minutes.
How to Make Pie Dough
- Combine your dry ingredients.
Whisk together the flour, salt, and sugar (if using) until well incorporated.
- Cut in the cold butter.
Using a pastry blender or two forks, press the butter down into the flour mixture. Continue to do this until small pieces of floured butter remain. It is essential that you work quickly so that the butter does not warm too much.
- Add ice-cold water.
At the beginning of the process, add the water into the pie dough a few tablespoons at a time. Using your hands or a spatula, carefully incorporate the water into the dough. Continue adding the ice-cold water, one tablespoon at a time, until the dough keeps shape when pressed together.
- Form a dough ball.
Pour the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead just until smooth. It is okay if it's still a little rough; you do not want to over-work it. With a bench scraper, divide the dough into two pieces. Form each dough ball into a flattened disk.
- Chill the dough.
Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 4 hours before using. For best results, refrigerate the dough overnight.
Frequently Asked Questions
The cold butter gives the crust its flakiness. When the cold butter in the crust is heated in the oven, the water evaporates quickly giving you the flaky texture you desire. The butter should be cubed or cut into small pieces for accurate incorporation into the dry ingredients.
You most definitely can. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap. Either wrap in foil or place in a freezer-safe zip-top bag. Label with name and date. Pie dough can be frozen for up to 6 months.
You need to add additional water, a little at a time until the dough comes together.
You've added too much liquid and need to add additional flour. Be careful that you do not over-work the dough though.
In summary, the five steps in making pie dough are
- Mix the dry ingredients.
- Cut in the butter.
- Add the ice-cold water.
- Form a dough ball.
You are five simple steps away from the perfect, made-from-scratch pie dough. Homemade pie crust doesn't need to be intimidating. It is a fun process and the results are well worth the extra time in the kitchen. Use this knowledge to make my Chocolate Chess Pie!