Today I finally found the perfect pie crust. This might not seem like a big deal to you but to me, it’s kind of emotional. I’d been experimenting with pie crust for years, convinced there was something better out there than what was printed on the back of the shortening package.
When I was growing up, Mom always made the same pie crust. It wasn’t bad and it wasn’t great. It was a constant crust you could count on to just be there in the background. Quietly letting the filling take all the glory, never asking for any attention, never really getting noticed at all.
I always believed that a good pie crust was capable of more than just a supporting role. Like two actors with equal amounts of lines, the crust and the filling could both share the limelight and give a palatable performance worthy of two oscars. But try as I might I couldn’t find a recipe that let the crust exploit its natural talents. I feared that my pie crust was destined to mediocrity, and that was ok I guess because pie is like pizza (and pizza is like sex); even when it’s bad, it’s good.
Then I found this little gem in the back of a book called The Best Ever French Cooking Course (yes, of course it’s french!) As far as pie pastry goes, this recipe is almost like all the others I’d tried except for two subtle differences: First, you use pastry flour instead of regular flour. Pastry flour has less gluten and will therefor give you a dough that is less gluey. Second, you use unsalted butter and then add just the right amount of salt in yourself. Call my simple, but I’ve NEVER cooked with unsalted butter before and seriously wondered how something so little could make any difference at all…it turns out it makes a huge difference and I am officially an unsalted butter convert (at least as far as pie pastry goes).
So here is the recipe. I’m sure you’ll agree that it makes the lightest, flakiest, most delicious crust you’ll ever taste. There will be no going back to that personality-less pie crust anymore. Sorry mom.
1 1/4 c. pastry flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp icing sugar (if you like your crust a little sweet)
1/2 c. unsalted butter, cut into pieces
Mix together with a pastry cutter until well-combined with the butter in pieces the size of a pea.
add 3 Tbsp ice-cold water and fluff with a fork (this requires a little elbow grease). Keep adding water until your dough holds together but isn’t sticky. Do not add any more than 8 Tbsp (I think I used 6 today).
Wrap your dough in plastic and place in the fridge for a 1/2 hr. to chill. Then make the most delicious pie you’ll ever taste!
I made a galette tarte which is fancy for “pie without a pie plate”. I baked the crust for 45 min at 375 F but check your pie filling instructions. They are all different.