Homemade pie crusts are often much tastier and flakier than any of the pre-made and store-bought versions. Here are a few easy tips you can use to ensure your pie crusts turn out perfectly every time.
1. Use Very Cold Fat Or Butter
Suet, lard, shortening or butter, regardless of the type of fat the recipe is asking you to use, it must be cold. Cut the fat up into small blocks and your crust will turn out super flaky. The butter needs to retain some level of integrity inside the dough to ensure the flakes in crust turn out flaky. When the fat is cold it helps to avoid over-working your fat when working with the dough. If it is a hot day, you should store your fat in the freezer for 15 minutes until you are ready to start making your dough. Why not make your own pumpkin pie spice to fill your perfect crust?
2. Chunks Are Good
Most recipes include working the fat or butter into the flour until the flour resembles cornmeal. However, you should leave a few large chunks of butter or fat in the dough to maximize the flakiness. Leaving behind a few larger pieces will stop you from over-working your dough.
3. Use Very Little Water
Add a small amount of liquid or water at a time. Water assists with the development of gluten, which is something that should be avoided if you are after a tender and crunchy pie crust. Stop adding water when your dough is holding together when you pinch the mixture between your thumb and forefinger. The dough should look slightly shaggy. The best way to limit the amount of water you use is to switch it out for vodka. Vodka has a lower concentration of water according to volume when compared to water, and the alcohol will evaporate when you bake the crust.
4. Form A Disk
Before rolling out or chilling your dough, shape the mixture into a disk that is even and under 1-inch in thickness. Make sure you smooth out the edges. Making sure your surface and your hands are well-floured will make this task a lot easier. This will also make the dough easier to roll out and help to prevent cracking around the edges.
Side Note: If the pie pan is round, shape your disk into the shape of the pan.
5. Chill Your Dough
Your dough should go into the fridge for a minimum of 30 minutes or up to 2 days before rolling it out. If it is a hot day, freeze your dough for 10 to 15 minutes before you start rolling it out.
6. Roll And Turn Your Dough
Work on a surface that is well-floured and also ensure your rolling pin is well-floured. With every pass of your rolling pin, turn your dough to a 90-degree angle (a quarter-turn). This will also indicate whether your dough is sticking. If it does start to stick, lift the dough on one of the sides and sprinkle some flour underneath.
7. Roll Out And Away
When rolling the dough, roll outwards and away from you. From here pick the rolling pin up and start back in the middle again. Make sure that you are applying an even pressure across the circle of your dough to ensure the center and the edges are the same thickness.
8. Allow The Dough To Fall Into The Baking Pan
When lining your pan with your dough, gently lower your dough inside the pan, lifting up the edges to allow the dough to gently fall into the corners as opposed to forcing or pushing it. The stretched dough will return to its normal shape after baking.
9. Chill The Lined Pan
Cover your pan and put it in the fridge (and the rolled-out top crust) before filing or baking your pie. This step helps the pie crust to retain its size and shape once baked.
10. Bake Until The Crust Turns Brown
To achieve the full flakiness and tenderness of a well-baked pie crust, you need the crust to fully brown.