MAKING THE PERFECT PIE CRUST

I don't do a lot of things well, but I make a killer pie crust. I use Martha Stewart's classic pate brisée recipe (although I usually up the ingredients by 25% because I prefer to use my 10" pie dishes.) Three basic tenets: keep your ingredients cold, work quickly and work the dough as little as possible.
  1. A word on ingredients: Maybe I've just drunk the Kool-Aid, but I'm pretty loyal to King Arthur brand flour. Not so fussy about my butter. I've used fancy Irish butter and regular Kroger stuff and it doesn't seem to make all that much different. I think, when it comes to pie crust, technique matters more than quality of ingredients.
  2. Cut up the butter into pieces about this size (I'd say these are about 1" by 1/2") then wrap in Saran and put in the freezer. Let chill for a half hour or so.
    I use a lot of Saran Wrap in this process — actually the Kirkland kind, which kicks ass — mostly because of ease. If you love the earth more than I do, you'll find workarounds.
  3. Weigh dry ingredients. I'm a huge proponent of weighing vs. measuring when it comes to dry ingredients. Especially flour.
  4. Prep a measuring cup with ice water. The original recipe says you'll need about 1/4 to 1/2 cup. I tend to use just over a 1/2 cup, so I always prep more.
  5. Add the frozen butter chunks to the dry ingredients in the food processor.
  6. Pulse JUST until the butter pieces are about the size of a Lima bean. It should still be pretty chunky before adding any water.
  7. Note: my process here is for double-crust pies, which I like to be super flaky. If you're doing a single-crust pie and will be blind-baking the shell, I'd incorporate the butter at this stage more to pea-sized. You'll get a little less flaking and a more sturdy crust.
  8. Begin the process of trickling in the ice water and pulsing very quickly to incorporate it. The goal is not to overwork the dough and not to use any more water than necessary. (It should go without saying that you don't want any ice getting into your dough.)
  9. What you're aiming for is a dough that looks like this, just starting to bind together and build up the sides of the food processor. It should be crumbly, but hold together when pinched. You still want to see bits of butter. When those melt, they create the flakes.
  10. Dump the dough out onto a surface and gently and quickly pat it together. (I love my silicon pie mat.) Divide the dough in two, either by eyeing it or by weighing it.
  11. Put each half in Saran Wrap and press together to make a disk. Remember, you wanna try and handle it as little as possible. The Saran Wrap really helps it come together.
  12. Refrigerate at least for a few hours. I try to refrigerate the dough overnight. It benefits from resting. (You can also freeze it for a few weeks if you're working ahead of time.)
  13. When you're ready to assemble the pie, get out the disk for the bottom of the pie. Roll out to the desired size and place in pie dish. Trim off excess dough.
  14. Brush the bottom with beaten egg white. This helps create a seal so the juices of the fruit won't make the lower crust soggy. If you're making a single crust pie, like pumpkin or pecan, this step doesn't hurt, either.
  15. If you have time, put the pie dish back in the fridge and let it rest for 30-60 minutes. I ref recommend this.
  16. Get the other disk of dough for the pie top out of the fridge and roll out to desired width. Obviously, you'll skip this step if you're making a single crust pie. BUT if you're making a single crust pie, you need to blind bake and cook the lower crust BEFORE filling. You can Google steps for that.
  17. Place the filling in the pie. Top with the dough and crimp around the edges to seal.
  18. Cut air vents in the dough and brush the tops with a beaten egg.
  19. Put back in the fridge for up to an hour. (You don't have to do this. It can go straight into the oven. Resting the dough again will just help keep things firm.)
  20. Bake pie according to directions. AND YOU ARE A ROCK STAR!!!