5 Steps to Master Perfect Pie Crust

published Apr 28, 2011
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(Image credit: Megan Gordon)

There are certain things that people tend to shy away from in the kitchen. Pie dough from scratch is often one of them. For many, it all just seems so mysterious&mdash how to achieve that perfect flakiness? Well, here are 5 tips to help you master that perfect no-fail pie crust.

After I started my baking business, Marge, pie became a major focus of my day-to-day life. It’s what I sold the majority of at the farmers markets, what people were most excited to order, and what I’ve come to really love to bake the most. It’s not quick to throw together like a simple drop cookie or a cupcake, but the slow steadiness of making a pie allows you appreciate it all the more.

So I wanted to take time-out today to tell you that you can make a flaky pie dough. Here are 5 tips we used at Marge to ensure that we get the perfect crust each and every time:

1. Your ingredients should be very, very cold. Yes I’m speaking about your butter, but you should really even put your bowl of flour in the freezer as well and if you’re using a pastry cutter, you can even throw that in the freezer for a few minutes, too. The colder the ingredients and equipment, the less risk there will be for the butter to melt or become overworked (an enemy to flaky pie crust).

2. Secret ingredient: Use a dash of apple cider vinegar in your pie dough. Add 1 teaspoon to your current favorite recipe at the time in which you’re adding your ice water. Vinegar helps prevent the formation of gluten which makes for a tough crust.

3. Always let your dough rest for at least one hour. Again, it’s all about gluten, and instead of going into the science behind it all, just trust me that after working your ingredients together and getting everything all excited, it’s got to have time to relax in order for it to be on its best behavior when you’re rolling it out.

4. Take charge of the flour: Use flour liberally to roll out your dough. Don’t even think twice about it. However, once your dough is rolled to the appropriate diameter, take a pastry brush and brush off any and all excess (on both sides). The last thing you want is a nice round of pie dough that’s cloaked in flour&mdash that will kill any hopes for light and flaky crust right there.

5. Don’t stress. I know, it sounds silly coming from someone who makes pies every day. But I do firmly believe that if you relax in the kitchen and take things step-by-step knowing full well that they’ll come out just fine&mdash they will. More or less. Sure, you may discover something that can be tweaked. But other than that, you’ll have a pie in no time.