Buttery, flakey basic pie crust.
Pie crust really isn’t that bad to make…some recipes make it a lot more complicated than it needs to be. This recipe (William Sonoma’s basic pie recipe) is simple for 2 reasons: it doesn’t require chilling and it uses all butter instead of shortening. Any recipe with no chilling or waiting time is a winner in my book. And I think the all butter crust provides a much richer flavor than the shortening crusts do. I also don’t usually keep shortening on hand, so the all butter crust is more convenient for me.
Pie crust consists of 5 basic ingredients that frequent bakers will have on hand: flour, sugar, salt, butter, water. You start off by mixing the flour, sugar, and salt together. Then you cut in the butter. It is important to keep the butter really cold, so don’t pull it out of the fridge until you are ready to use it. Cut in the butter with a pastry blender or two knives until the largest pieces of butter are smaller than or as small as green peas.
Then add in the cold water and stir with a fork. This recipe calls for 3 Tablespoons of water… I would suggest adding 2 Tablespoons, stirring, and then gradually adding the third Tablespoon until the mixture pulls together and is raggedy. If you feel like your dough is still dry, add a little more water a teaspoon at a time.
Then turn out your dough on a floured work surface and gently work the dough together with your hands to form a ball and then flatten into a disc. The dough will be crumbly at first but by gently working it with your hands it should come together. Be careful to not overwork the dough though or it will make a tough pie crust.
Roll out the dough into a 12 inch circle so that it will fit your 9 inch pie dish. Don’t worry if it doesn’t roll into a perfect circle… just get it close enough so that you do not have to patch the crust together too much. Make sure to lift and turn your dough circle occasionally to check that it is not sticking to the counter and add more flour to the counter as needed.
An easy way to transfer the dough to the pan is to loosely roll it around your rolling pin and then pick it up. I think this way minimizes the rips and tears that a lot of people get when they move the crust.
A note on pie dishes: I use a basic glass pyrex pie dish. There are really pretty decorative pie dishes out there … I can’t speak from experience, but I have heard that they don’t bake the pie as evenly as the basic glass pie dish does.
You’ll then want to gently press the crust down into the pie dish and trim the overhanging crust so that it only overhangs by a 1/2 inch. The photo below is before I trimmed the crust.
I like to crimp the edges of the crust. To do this, fold the extra 1/2 inch overhanging crust over so that the crust only comes right up to the edge of the pie dish. Then using both hands, pinch the edges between your thumb and first finger of one hand and your thumb and first finger of the other hand.
This recipe makes one pie crust. If you wanted to do a lattice top or any cut out shapes on top, you’ll need to double the recipe!
- 1¼ cups all-purpose flour
- 1 Tablespoon granulated sugar
- ⅛ teaspoon salt
- 8 Tablespoons salted butter, cold and cubed
- 3 Tablespoons cold water
- Mix flour, sugar, and salt together with a spatula.
- Using a pastry cutter or 2 knives, cut the cold butter into the flour until it resembles coarse meal. The butter chunks should be as small or smaller than green peas.
- Mix in the cold water and stir with a fork until the mixture is raggedy. If it is a little crumbly, don't worry because you'll take care of that in the next step. If it seems way too crumbly though, add more water 1 teaspoon at a time.
- Transfer dough to a floured work surface and gently work the dough together with your hands.
- Flatten the dough into a disc and roll the dough out with a floured rolling pin into a 12-inch circle. As you are rolling the dough, turn the dough circle a couple times to make sure it is not sticking to the counter and add more flour to your work surface as needed.
- Transfer the 12-inch dough circle to a 9-inch pie dish. To transfer the dough without tearing it, loosely wrap the pie dough around your rolling pin and then unroll it over your pie dish.
- Trim the edges so there is only about ½ inch of overhang. Crimp the edges by first folding over the overhang. Then using both hands, pinch the edges between your thumb and first finger of one hand and your thumb and first finger of the other hand.
- Refrigerate while you prepare the filling.
Source: William Sonoma’s Basic Pie Crust