For speed, convenience and great results, we love to use the food processor for making pie crust, but making it by hand is a close second. All you need is a bowl and a pastry blender with sharp blades. We do find that the ones with blades, as opposed to wires, work best. If you have room, chill your mixing bowl before starting.
Making Pie Crust by Hand
- For a Double Crust:
- 2½ cups all-purpose flour
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 cup (2 sticks) very cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
- 4 to 6 tablespoons ice cold water (or more or less as needed)
- For a Single Crust:
- 1¼ cups all-purpose flour
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ½ cup (1 stick) very cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
- 2 to 3 tablespoons ice cold water (or more or less as needed)
- Whisk flour and salt together in a medium-sized bowl to blend. Add half the butter and cut in using a pastry blender or two knives until the bulk of the mixture resembles a very coarse meal and there are still pieces of butter the size of grapes. Add remaining butter and continue cutting in until butter pieces range in size from small peas to large raisins.
- Sprinkle smaller amount of water over the flour mixture and toss with fingers or a fork until evenly moistened and dough just holds together if squeezed between your fingertips. The mixture will be loose and will only come together if squeezed. Add additional water only if necessary.
- Gently gather the mixture together using your fingers and palms. You can press it against the sides of the bowl to help compress it and bring it together into a solid mass. Take care not to overwork it too much; the heat of your hands might overly soften the butter and create a mealy textured dough.
- Gather into two balls and flatten into discs. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 2 hours or up to 2 days. The dough may also be frozen for 1 month double wrapped in plastic and placed in a heavy zip top bag with air removed. Defrost in the refrigerator overnight. Pie crust made with all butter will be very firm when chilled. Let dough soften slightly at room temperature before rolling out.
- When we say use fingertips, we really mean it! Your fingertips are cooler than your palms and hands and the key to making a flaky pie crust is to never let the butter or fat get too warm.
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