The secrets to making a pie crust from scratch
Sarah Nasello shares her ultra-flaky All-Butter Pie Crust recipe and says it's relatively easy to master — and requires only a handful of pantry staples.
FARGO — I was sharing my upcoming recipes with friends a couple of weeks ago, and they were shocked that I would part with one of my signature baking specialties — my All-Butter Pie Crust. All three are marvelous home cooks, and not one had made a pie crust from scratch. I knew then that it was time to share my secrets.
Over the next two weeks, I will feature a recipe for a savory galette followed by a fresh fruit pie, using the pie crust recipe I am sharing today, and I recommend making your dough in advance and freezing it, so you have it ready to go once the recipes are published. My recipe yields two individual crusts, and the dough freezes beautifully, wrapped in plastic and stored in a plastic zip bag.
Food is one of my love languages, especially when a recipe is relatively easy to master and requires only a handful of pantry staples. My All-Butter Pie Crust calls for just five basic ingredients — all-purpose flour, sugar, salt, very cold butter and ice-cold water — and I use this recipe for nearly all my fruit pies, galettes and even quiches.
For savory recipes, like next week’s Tomato Galette, I may include the addition of herbs for added flavor, like fresh basil, thyme and parsley from my garden. You can use any herbs you wish, and if you do not have fresh herbs on hand, you can use a couple of teaspoons of mixed dried herbs, Italian herb seasoning or herbes de Provence.
But, for fruit pies, I keep my recipe sweet and simple. It is hard to beat the flavor of an all-butter crust, and I have a few tips to ensure that your crust is as flaky and delicious as mine.
First, it is important to remember that cold is king when it comes to creating flaky pastry, and I use freezer-cold cubes of butter and ice water to mix my dough.
Next, handle the dough as little as possible, to keep the pats of butter from melting as the dough is formed. I use my food processor to make my pie dough, as it requires the least amount of handling and makes the process quick and easy.
I have tried a variety of methods to make my pie crust — I have used a pastry cutter, two forks and even my fingertips to cut the butter into the flour mixture — and every single time I wish I had used my food processor. When I do, my crust seems just a little bit flakier, a little bit lighter, a little bit more delicious.
Finally, chilling the dough for at least an hour, or longer, before rolling it out allows the gluten to relax so that the dough is supple and elastic once the rolling pin hits it. After the dough is mixed, I quickly form the shaggy mixture into a ball, divide that into two halves and then form rough disks out of each half. I wrap each disk in plastic and place them in the refrigerator to chill, or the freezer so that the dough is ready whenever I need it.
So, make a batch, or several, of my plain or savory All-Butter Pie Crust this week, and have it ready to go for next week’s Tomato Galette or the Fresh Peach Pie the week thereafter, or any pie you choose. And feel free to reach out with any questions!
FYI: There is still time to place your order for the amazing Colorado peaches of the annual Fargo West Rotary sale, at https://fargo-west-rotary.square.site/ .
Sarah’s (Plain or Savory) All-Butter Pie Crust
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Makes: 2 pie crusts
2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes and chilled until very cold
1/3 to ½ cup ice water
For a savory option:
¼ cup fresh herbs, any blend of 2 to 3 herbs, or 2 teaspoons dried herbs, any blend
In a food processor, mix the flour, sugar and salt together until combined, about 15 seconds. Add the herbs and pulse again 5 times to combine.
Add the very cold butter and pulse 8 to 10 times, until the mixture appears coarsely ground with large pats of butter still visible.
Turn the processor on and add the water slowly through the feed tube, starting with 1/3 cup and adding more as needed, until the dough begins to form clumps — the sound of the processor will also change once the dough is mixed.
Turn the dough out onto a clean work surface and form into a ball. Divide the ball in half and form each half into a disk. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for 1 hour, or up to 2 days, before using. The dough disks can also be frozen in a plastic freezer bag for several months.
- To achieve the best crust, use very cold butter and water and avoid mixing or handling the dough too much.
- Small bags of pre-measured butter cubes will keep in the freezer for months, so you have them available when needed.
- Use fresh or dried herbs when making savory pies like galettes and quiches.
Recipe Time Capsule:
This week in...
- 2021: Sarah's Savory Salmon Cakes
- 2020: Traditional Gazpacho Soup and Simple Eggplant Parmesan
- 2019: Sicilian Grilled Peaches
- 2018: Chef Ben's Quick Pickle Plate
- 2017: Red Potato, Green Bean and Bacon Salad
- 2016: Insalata Panzanella
- 2015: Bacon and Chive Potato Croquettes
- 2014: Sarah's North Dakota Sun Brittle
- 2013: Insalata Caprese
Recipes can be found with the article at InForum.com.