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What is it about making pie dough from scratch that has people running for the hills? I remember growing up thinking my mom could whip up a mean pie in minutes. Her dough was always perfectly flaky and tender. I then learned as I grew up that she bought pre-made pie crust. *insert shocked face emoji here* Love you more than anything Mom. But I had no idea she was buying her pie dough that whole time! And I get it. Many of us do. But I’m here to tell you making your own pie dough shouldn’t be scary. Halloween is over. The scariness can stop. Although pie dough does involve a few tricks (Ok Halloween puns over) to master, it really is easier than pie. Wow. I’m a on a pun roll today. You still with me? Good. Master these and you will be cranking out perfect pie for Thanksgiving in no time.
Here are my top 4 tips for mastering pie dough…
Tip #1 Use Cold Ingredients
Cold ingredients is KEY. Why cold? Cold ingredients don’t interact well together. And that’s super important when it comes to your pie dough. You do not want that butter playing well with the flour. Chunks of butter visible in your pie dough in the end means flaky crust for you. Those chunks of butter will then melt in the oven and create pockets of flaky goodness for you. So think cold. VERY cold. The butter, the water, even the flour! I like to use frozen butter that has been cut into small cubes. If your butter isn’t frozen when you start, cut the butter into small cubes and then place in your freezer. Be sure to also use ice cold water! When I go to make pie dough. I put ice cubes in my measuring cup of water that I plan to use.
Your pie dough the experts say should never go above 60 degrees F. So, hey, lets listen to the experts ok? If it’s a warm day. Just keep placing your ingredients, or your dough back in the fridge if things are getting too warm and toasty for you.
Tip #2 Add Your Water One Tablespoon At A Time
There is a reason your pie recipe gives you a range of water to add. There is never one set amount that will work for your pie dough. Why is that? To confuse and frustrate you? No. The amount of water will vary depending on time of year, temperature of your kitchen, humidity, you get the picture. So start by adding one tablespoon at a time. And pulse (if you are using a food processor) or incorporate with your pastry cutter. Add your water one tablespoon at a time to ensure you don’t mix in too much water. Add just enough for the dough to begin to form clumps. Undermixing is better than overmixing.
Not sure if you have added enough? Try the pinch test. Take a small amount of pie dough between your fingers, and pinch it. Does it just hold together with some small dry cracks in it? Perfect. Stop adding water.
Tip #3 Handle the Dough As Little As Possible
This tip goes for when you mix the dough and when you go to roll it out. You do not want to over mix the dough. I find using my pastry cutter to cut the butter into the flour can ensure I do not overmix. But if you are short on time and need to use your food process to quicken the process. I like to pulse my dough to ensure I do not overmix it.
After you mix your dough, I also make sure I handle the dough as little as possible with my hands. Your hands will
warm up the dough so If at any point the dough is getting too warm, place it back in the fridge to firm up a bit. When handling the dough, try just using your fingertips because your palms will add too much heat.
Is it warming up too much? Place your dough back in the fridge. The fridge is your friend when making pie dough. Use it.
Tip #4 Allow the Dough To Rest Before Rolling It Out.
After you make your dough, allow it to rest in your fridge for 30 minutes. This will allow the dough to relax and become cold again making for a flakier and tender crust. And remember your dough can always go back into the fridge at any point if it is getting too warm. After I roll it out and place it in my pie plate, I like to then stick it back in the fridge again for another 30 minutes.
Here are a few pie recipes to get you started!
So I’m curious, what’s your favorite pie? I’d love to know…leave me a comment. It might just become the next pie recipe I create 😉
Happy baking everyone!