Basic and Flaky Pie and Tart Crust Dough

  • Serves: For one or two crusts 9-inch pie or one 10-inch tart
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  • Comments: 12

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I like to use this easy to make pie dough. The baking powder helps the crust to puff and brown, and the sugar also helps it to brown. Use the sugar for sweet crusts, and eliminate it for savory. This crust can be made 3 - 4 days in advance by wrapping it in plastic wrap and refrigerating it.

Ingredients for a one-crust pie or tart, about 10 ounces dough
1 1/4 cups (about 5 1/2 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon sugar, optional
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon baking powder

8 tablespoons butter (1 stick) cold unsalted

2 to 3 tablespoons ice water

Ingredients for a two-crust pie or tart, about 1- 1/4 pounds dough
2 1/2 cups (about 11 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons sugar, optional
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking powder

16 tablespoons (2 sticks) cold unsalted butter

4 to 6 tablespoons ice water

1. Combine flour, optionally sugar, salt and baking powder in a work bowl fitted with a metal blade. Pulse once or twice to combine. 

2. Cut butter into 1-tablespoon pieces or grate. Place in the freezer for to chill. Add butter to dry ingredients.

3. Pulse 3 - 5 times at 1-second intervals, until the mixture resembles a coarse-ground cornmeal and no large pieces of butter remain visible.

4. Scatter the smaller amount of water on the butter and flour mixture and pulse 5 or 6 times at 1-second intervals --the dough should begin holding together.
If the mixture still appears dry and crumbly, add the remaining water, 1 teaspoon at a time for the smaller quantity of dough, a tablespoon at a time for the larger quantity, until the dough holds together easily.  

5. Scrape the dough onto a lightly floured surface and form it into a disk (then divide into two equal ones for a two-crust recipe, and then also form each one into a disk).

6. Wrap (each) disk in plastic wrap. Refrigerate until the dough is firm, or until you are ready to use, at least 1 hour, preferably 2 to 4 hours, and best overnight.

MIX BY HAND: Combine flour, sugar, and salt in a 9 x 13-inch pan and stir well to mix. Add chilled butter to dry ingredients. Toss once or twice to coat pieces of butter. Rub or cut the butter into the dry ingredients using your fingertips or pastry blender, by breaking it into tiny pieces or by continuously pinching and squeezing it into the dry ingredients. Continue until the butter is the size of small peas and no large pieces of butter remain visible. Scatter the 2 to 3 tablespoons water on the butter and flour mixture and stir gently with a fork. The dough should begin clumping together. If the mixture still appears dry and crumbly, slowly add the remaining water, a tablespoon at a time, until the dough starts to clump together and is a bit crumbly. Divide dough into two disks, wrap in plastic and refrigerate for 2 to 4 hours, preferably overnight.

The pie crust dough disk(s) can be stored in the refrigerator for about 3 to 4 days. It can be frozen for a month or more. Thaw in the refrigerator.

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