A new batch of mini-pies are cooling in the kitchen right now. Once the taste tests are done I will share the results with you. I have four crusts in the test: all butter, butter + shortening (both of these are repeats from round 1), butter + lard, and Cook’s Illustrated fool-proof pie dough which uses vodka.
But for today, I thought I’d share a few tips about making pie dough. Many of these are common knowledge (among those who make pie), but now that I’ve made four different batches of dough in the last couple days I feel like I can add my two cents:
- Keep everything cold. Especially the fats and liquid. Before I start measuring the flour, I like to put the water into the freezer so that by the time I am ready to use it, it is ice cold. Also, Alton Brown recommends putting your fats (butter and lard in his case) in the freezer for fifteen minutes before you use them. I did this for some and didn’t for others and didn’t see much of a difference as long as the butter was already cold.
- Work quickly. This kind of goes with point 1 because the faster you work, the less likely it is for the fats to warm up. You want it to stay cold and solid. So I think the food processor is best for this for two reasons: 1. it is fast, and 2. your warm hands don’t touch it much. So if you don’t have a food processor, just keep everything extra cold or chill it after each step.
- Relax. It is only pie dough. And if there are tears or if it crumbles, patch it together and do your best to hide it… chances are no one will notice.
- Let your dough relax. Yep, just like you, your dough needs to chillax so don’t overwork it. Don’t take your frustrations out on it… if you’re frustrated, make pizza. Also, this is a good time to be a slacker… do just enough to make it work.
Finally, here are a couple of videos I put together as I made my pie dough. In the first one, I use a food processor, and the Cook’s Illustrated recipe (with vodka)… I like saying I used vodka in the pie crust…
- Cook’s Illustrated fool-proof pie crust via Serious Eats.
In the second video, for those of you who don’t have a food processor (I was one of you until last Christmas), I make pie dough using a pastry blender (one of my favorite kitchen tools), and the pie crust recipe from Good Eats that uses a little bit of lard…
- Alton Brown’s pie crust recipe