I remember the first time I decided to make pie dough from scratch, I spent hours looking through recipes. For such a simple thing, the seemingly endless combination of ingredients and techniques was astonishing. Keep everything cold, butter for flavor, shortening for flakiness, don’t work it too much, don’t add too much water!
After years spent terrified that I’d add too much water and struggling with crumbly pie dough, I finally surrendered and just added as much freaking water as I thought it needed to come together.
And guess what? I wasn’t struck by the vengeful lightning bolt of some unknown dough god. The dough didn’t jump up off the counter and bitch slap me before ranting about being too damn soggy. “Don’t you know you’re only supposed to use a few tablespoons, dummy?”
Screw it! I’m sure my grandma didn’t gingerly spritz the top of her flour with a spray bottle and then try to smoosh the dough together in her fist to see if she’d used enough. It’s enough when it makes DOUGH!
That said, the other stuff like keeping ingredients cold all do seem to matter. I personally prefer all butter crusts. Why? Well, for one, it’s easier. Why get out shortening (forget lard, I’m not using it, I don’t care WHO says it makes good dough) when you don’t have to?
1.5 C flour
8 oz. cold unsalted butter
1/2 tsp. salt
(add 2 tbsp. sugar if it’s for a sweet pie)
So here’s what I do…sift the flour and salt together. Now either put it into a food processor, add the cold butter and whiz it around until the butter is in pea sized chunks OR freeze the butter and then grate it into the flour. You could cut the butter into the flour using a fork or a pastry cutter too, but that’s way too much work for me.
Then add the water. How much? What I do is take a couple of ice cubes and put them into a half cup measuring cup. Then I fill it up with water. Wait a few seconds until the water is thoroughly chilled and then pour it over the flour mixture.
I do it in a bowl and once I’ve dumped the initial amount of water in, I put my hand into the bowl and move it around. If it seems to be making dough, I stop. If it’s still crumbly and isn’t sticking together, I add a little bit more. That’s all there is to it.
Flatten the dough into a disk and chill it for at least half an hour. Then roll it out and use it however your recipe dictates.
This makes enough for one crust. It’s a generous recipe too, you won’t need to roll it super thin to get it into a deep dish pie plate. If you need a top and bottom crust, just double the recipe! Divide it into two portions before refrigerating.