Tag Archives: pie dough

All-Butter Pie Dough

All-Butter Pie DoughSince the very beginning of this blog, I have sung the praises of my Cream Cheese Pie Dough. It’s easy to mix together (no guess work!), rolls without tearing, has a croissant-like flakiness, and is super delicious. I will stand by it forever and ever, amen.

So, if I love it sooo much—and I do—why on earth am I giving you another pie dough recipe? Because I don’t always have a brick of cream cheese sitting around when I’m in a pie-making mood. It’s that simple. That doesn’t mean I’m going to subject myself to subpar pie crust though. No way. Crisp, flaky, and buttery or bust!All-Butter Pie DoughI’ll be the first to tell you that I’m not reinventing the wheel with this crust. There are a gazillion all-butter pie doughs out there and nearly all of them have similar proportions and instructions, which makes it all the more surprising that I had to test this recipe six times to get it exactly how I want it.All-Butter Pie DoughAll-Butter Pie Dough requires just six ingredients. Six! You probably have all of them in your kitchen right now.

  • Cold butter. Pockets of cold fat are the secret to a flaky crust. As they melt in the oven, their water content turns to steam and form the layers we all love so much. Some bakers use shortening or lard (or cream cheese!) as their fat of choice, but since this is All-Butter Pie Dough, we’re using all butter, duh. I like to cut mine into cubes ahead of time and then freeze it until I add it to the dry ingredients. It’ll get cut into the dough just until it’s the size of small peas. This means there will be visible chunks of butter in your pie dough at all stages, even when it’s rolled out. If at any point in the process your butter feels soft/warm/sticky/otherwise-not-cold, throw the dough back in the fridge. Unless you like tough crust, that is.
  • Cold water. Cold. Cuh-old. Water is the binder in this pie dough recipe. It has to be freezing cold because if we add room temperature or—heaven forbid—warm water to the dough, we can kiss that cold butter and flaky crust goodbye. I like to measure out 2/3 cup of cold water and then add ice cubes to keep it that way. Also, don’t get heavy-handed—you probably won’t need all the water in your measuring cup. You want to add just enough for the dough to hold together. Any more than that and the gluten in the flour may become overdeveloped and yield a tough crust.All-Butter Pie DoughAll-Butter Pie Dough
  • Apple cider vinegar. This is the one “unusual” ingredient you’ll find in this recipe, but I’m far from the first baker to put vinegar in pie dough. It helps mitigate gluten development (buying you an extra stir or knead) to produce a more tender crust, the same way that adding buttermilk (also an acid) to cakes/biscuits/what-have-you helps make them tender.All-Butter Pie Dough
  • Sugar and salt. These add flavor and balance to our crust. Without them, why bother making pie dough at all?! You may be tempted to leave out the sugar, especially in savory applications, but I recommend keeping it. The small amount of sugar in this dough caramelizes during baking, helping to produce a golden brown crust.
  • All-Purpose Flour. This is the structural foundation of pie dough (and sooo many other things). Make sure you measure it properly (spoon & level) so that you don’t use too much or too little.All-Butter Pie DoughAll-Butter Pie Dough

See, six ingredients, each with a job of its own. You’re a bowl, a hand blender, and fifteen minutes away from having two disks of pie dough in your fridge. #scoreAll-Butter Pie DoughAll-Butter Pie DoughIf pie dough makes you jittery or this is your first year making it from scratch, never fear! All-Butter Pie Dough is very simple to make. Once you’ve made your first batch, you’ll wonder what you were ever afraid of…but just in case you need a little extra encouragement, here are some of my best pie dough tips.

  • Make it by hand. There are now three pie dough recipes on this site, and not one of them is made in a food processor. I know it’s supposed to be faster and easier that way, but it also involves more clean up and requires you to give up control of the butter. It’s not always easy to get visible chunks of butter in a food processor, but it is when you are cutting it in by hand. Dough made by hand = visible butter = flaky crust!
  • When in doubt, throw it in the fridge. This is the solution to almost all your pie crust problems. Butter seems sticky? Throw it in the fridge. Dough seems a little soft? Throw it in the fridge. Fitted the dough to the pie plate and filled it, but have some time before the oven will be warm? Throw it in the fridge. Worried about the crimp holding? Throw it it in the fridge. Say it with me: Throw. It. In. The. Fridge.All-Butter Pie Dough
  • Take your time. You can make pie dough three days before you make pie and keep it in the refrigerator—no need to do everything on the same day. You can even freeze this pie dough! Just triple-wrap in plastic and throw it in the freezer for up to six months. Let it thaw in the fridge overnight before rolling.
  • Don’t fret if it’s not perfect. Pie takes time. Pie takes practice. I have made a lot of pies in the last six years and many of them have been hideous. Many, many. But you know what? Ugly pie is still pie. As one of my favorite bloggers, Julie Van Rosendaal, says “The best pie is the one on your table.”All-Butter Pie Dough

Wooooow so many bullet points today. Pie, y’all! It’s happening. Look out Friday for my first pie recipe of the season. Or go into my Recipe Index and make yourself this tart Cranberry Crumb Pie. I know we still have 22 days til Thanksgiving, but I mean…it’s practice, right?All-Butter Pie Dough

All-Butter Pie Dough
makes 2 crusts

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, very cold, cut into cubes
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
~2/3 cup water, very cold
ice cubes
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt

Cut butter into cubes. Put it on a plate and freeze it while you prepare the other ingredients.

Pour apple cider vinegar into a liquid measuring cup. Add cold water up to the 2/3 cup mark. Add a few ice cubes. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, and salt. Add cold butter and use a pastry blender to cut it in until the largest pieces are the size of small peas.

Using a finger to block ice cubes, pour 1/2 cup water/vinegar mixture into the bowl. Use a silicone spatula or wooden spoon to stir just until everything is moistened. Add more liquid 1 tablespoon at a time until clumps begin to form and dough holds together well when pinched. You will likely have some liquid leftover.

Give dough a couple of quick kneads to help it come together. There may be some dry unincorporated bits at the bottom of the bowl—this is normal.

Divide dough into two equal pieces and fork into disks. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour or up to 3 days.

Flour a surface and a rolling pin. Unwrap one disk of dough. Use rolling pin to roll dough to 1/8-inch thickness (about 14 inches in diameter for a 9-inch pie plate). For easiest rolling, roll dough in one direction, turning it one quarter turn after each roll. Re-flour surface and rolling pin as needed.

To transfer to a pie plate, carefully fold dough into quarters. Place point in the center of the pie plate and carefully unfold. Fit it to the pan, trim any excess overhang to 1-inch and crimp.

Proceed with your pie recipe as written.All-Butter Pie DoughAll-Butter Pie DoughAll-Butter Pie Dough

Whole Wheat Pie Dough

Whole Wheat Pie DoughI have a lot of feelings about pie crust. Namely, that it should be easy, homemade, have defined flaky layers, and be insanely delicious. No hard, crunchy, cardboard-flavored crusts for me, thanks.

Whole Wheat Pie DoughWhole Wheat Pie DoughNow, I have a pie crust that is all these things and more. Yes, my Cream Cheese Pie Dough is perfection, as far as I’m concerned. And what’s not to love? The dough is simple to make and never, ever tears during rolling. It goes well with sweet and savory applications. It has so many layers that I have had friends comment that it’s akin to having a pie wrapped in croissant dough. And it really is delicious.

I could go on and on about that crust all day. Really, I could. But as much as I love it, sometimes I just need a change.

Whole Wheat Pie DoughWhole Wheat Pie DoughEnter this Whole Wheat Pie Dough. It has all the ease, flakiness, and versatility of my beloved Cream Cheese Pie Dough, but with a rich whole wheat flavor. It might sound a little odd, the idea of a pie made with a whole grain crust, but trust me when I say that it’s shockingly good. The combination of sweet, jammy fruit and nubbly wheat crust–let’s just say it’s the dessert you never knew you wanted.

If you don’t believe me, just wait–I have a Strawberry Rhubarb Galette coming your way tomorrow 😊🍓Whole Wheat Pie Dough

Whole Wheat Pie Dough
makes two 9-inch pie crusts

2 1/2 cups whole wheat flour (or white whole wheat flour)
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
8 ounces (2 sticks) unsalted butter, very cold, cut into cubes
2/3-3/4 cup buttermilk, very cold

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together whole wheat flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt. Add cold butter, and use a handheld pastry blender to cut it into the dry ingredients until the smallest pieces are the size of large peas. Pour in 1/2 cup cold buttermilk and stir with a silicone spatula or wooden spoon until clumps form. Add more buttermilk by the tablespoon, as necessary. Put your hands* in the bowl to knead the mixture until it comes together. Form the dough into two discs, and wrap them individually in plastic wrap. Chill for one hour, or up to two days.

Flour a surface and a rolling pin. Take one disc of dough out of the refrigerator, unwrap it, and place it on the surface. Press the dough with the rolling pin. Roll it in one direction 3-4 times, and then turn it 90 degrees. Roll in one direction 3-4 times. Repeat rolling and turning until dough is at least 12 inches in diameter, dusting with more flour as necessary to prevent sticking.

Fold dough in quarters, and place in a pie plate with the scraggly edges hanging over the outside of the pan. Unfold the dough to fill the pan. Trim the excess to 1/2 inch. Fill crust with filling and chill for at least 15 minutes. From here, there are two options.

For a single crust pie, crimp the edges, and brush them with additional buttermilk. and bake at 375F for 45 minutes to one hour, covering the crust with foil halfway through. Let cool at least three hours.

For a double crust pie, roll out the top crust the same way that you did the bottom crust. Cut into strips for a lattice,* or leave whole to cover the whole pie. Trim the excess to 1/2 inch. Crimp the edges, then chill for 15 minutes. Brush the crust with additional buttermilk. Cut vents if the top crust is whole. Bake at 375F for 45 minutes to one hour. Let cool for at least three hours.

Notes:

If your hands are warm, run them under cold water for thirty seconds (and then dry them) before kneading.

Whole Wheat Pie Dough

Cream Cheese Pie Dough

imageThis was a big weekend in New York City. It was Halloween, which is always a production (I skipped it). It was the weekend of the New York City Marathon. And most importantly (to me anyway), it was the beginning of pie season! I celebrated by making three apple pies with my friends, Liz and Kat, and watching the final game of the World Series while eating too much pizza. But back to pie season–it’s wonderful time of year when we make and eat pie for two months straight and don’t care who knows it! The holidays demand pie, and I am happy to oblige. Between now and Thanksgiving, I’m going to post three pie recipes! Make sure to check back each week–you may just find your new favorite holiday dessert. But before we get to the pies themselves, we have to talk about crust.

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Pie crust is notoriously intimidating. If you let it get even the slightest bit warm before it goes in the oven, it loses flakiness. If you don’t add enough liquid, it’s crumbly. If you add too much liquid, it’s a sticky mess. Even if you get the dough right, there’s the rolling, transferring to the pie plate, and crimping. And there are so many options! Butter, shortening, ice water, buttermilk, vodka, vinegar, sugar, no sugar–it’s enough to make your head spin before you’ve ever turned on the oven! All that said, the method is very simple: cut cold fat into dry ingredients, stir in cold liquid, knead and chill, roll and bake. That’s it. Simple. But not easy.

For years, I’ve used Deb Perelman’s All Butter, Really Flaky Pie Dough. It’s an excellent recipe, and her accompanying pie tutorials simply cannot be beat. But I am one of those people who can’t leave perfection alone, so last April I threw some cream cheese in there, just to see what would happen. It was a good decision. The combination of cream cheese and butter guarantees a rich, flaky crust–it never turns out dry. The cream cheese also allows for easy rolling. It helps prevent tears–this dough can be flipped and turned and rolled and cut every which-way, and it almost always remains intact. If you do get a tear, just patch it back together with your fingertips–no problem! Instead of using ice water in my dough, I am partial to cold buttermilk. While ice water would do, it adds no flavor and makes this particular crust a little tougher than I’d like. We need acid to make things tender, and if we’re going to use one, it should add a little flavor. Buttermilk is the answer (isn’t it always?). And there is no question as to how much liquid we’ll need in this crust–it’s 1/4 cup every single time. There is no guess-work here!

imageimageWe have to talk about one more thing: the food processor. So many people love to mix up their dough by pulsing everything until it comes together, but it’s never worked for me. I either get a crumbly crust, or a tough, over-worked mess. I use a pastry blender (pictured above). It allows you to get a feel for the dough while you are putting it together, rather than having to guess while looking at your ingredients through a wall of plastic. It takes the guess-work out of the mixing. Pastry blenders are roughly $5, and they can be used for lots of things: pie (obviously), biscuits, even guacamole and mashed potatoes! Get one–you’ll love it.

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imageimageimageThe dough begins with mixing together flour, sugar, and salt. Then, using your pastry blender, cut 8 ounces of butter and 8 ounces of cream cheese into the flour mixture. Next, stir in 1/4 cup of cold buttermilk, knead it all together for a minute or two, wrap it in plastic, stick it in the fridge, and you’re done…for an hour. Once the chilling time is over, place one disc of dough on a well floured surface. With a floured rolling pin, press down on the dough, rolling in one direction a few times. Turn the dough 90 degrees, and roll again. Repeat this until your dough is at least twelve inches in diameter. If it starts to stick to your surface or your rolling pin, dust with more flour. If it gets warm, chill it for ten minutes before starting where you left off. To transfer it to your pie plate, gently fold it into quarters, and place it in the pan with the scraggly edges hanging over the edge. Unfold the dough, and voila! The crust is in the pan. Trim the edges to 1/2 inch of overhang. Then fill with your favorite filling. If it’s a single crust pie, you can crimp the edges and put the pie in the oven. If you want a double crust pie, put the filled crust in the fridge while you roll out the second crust just like you did the first one. Cut it into strips if you want a lattice (more on that very soon!), or leave it whole if you want the whole thing covered. Trim the excess to 1/2 inch, crimp the edges, cut a few vents (if it’s fully covered), and it’s ready for the oven. Preheat the oven only AFTER you have finished assembling the pie. Now, you are roughly one hour from a hot homemade pie coming out of your oven!

Check back later this week for the first of my three pie recipes this month!

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Cream Cheese Pie Dough
makes two crusts, enough for one double-crust or two single-crust 9″ pies

2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
1 cup (8 ounces) unsalted butter, very cold, cut into cubes
1 cup (8 ounces) full-fat cream cheese, very cold, cut into cubes
1/4 cup buttermilk, very cold

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, and salt. Add cold butter and cream cheese into the bowl. With your pastry blender, cut the ingredients together until the largest bits of butter and cream cheese are the size of small peas. Add the buttermilk, and give it a quick stir to distribute. Put your hands* in the bowl to knead the mixture until it comes together.* Form the dough into two discs, and wrap them individually in plastic wrap. Chill for one hour, or up to two days.

Flour a surface and a rolling pin. Take one disc of dough out of the refrigerator, unwrap it, and place it on the surface. Press the dough with the rolling pin. Roll it in one direction 3-4 times, and then turn it 90 degrees. Roll in one direction 3-4 times. Repeat rolling and turning until dough is at least 12 inches in diameter, dusting with more flour as necessary to prevent sticking.

Fold dough in quarters, and place in a pie plate with the scraggly edges hanging over the outside of the pan. Unfold the dough to fill the pan. Trim the excess to 1/2 inch. Fill crust with filling and chill for at least 15 minutes. From here, there are two options.

  1. For a single crust pie, crimp the edges, and brush them with additional buttermilk. Chill for 30 minutes while you preheat the oven to 375F.* Bake for 45 minutes to one hour, covering the crust with foil halfway through. Let cool at least three hours.
  2. For a double crust pie, roll out the top crust the same way that you did the bottom crust. Cut into strips for a lattice,* or leave whole to cover the whole pie. Trim the excess to 1/2 inch. Crimp the edges and brush the crust with additional buttermilk. Chill for 30 minutes while you preheat the oven to 375F. Cut vents if the top crust is whole. Bake for 45 minutes to one hour. Let cool for at least three hours.

Notes:

  1. If your hands are warm, run them under cold water for thirty seconds (and then dry them) before kneading.
  2. There may be a tablespoon or two of unincorporated ingredients. Just pat them onto the discs before wrapping them in plastic wrap. They will incorporate during rolling.
  3. Do not preheat your oven until after your pie is completely assembled. This is very important!

Cream Cheese Pie Dough