MAKES: Enough for an 8- to 10-inch single-crust pie
TIME: 20 minutes, plus time to rest
I’ve used this recipe and technique for years and always been pleased with the results. The crust is flaky and flavorful, and it holds its own no matter what the filling. This may be basic, but piecrusts don’t get any better.
See Prebaking Pie and Tart Crusts when using a very moist filling, like a custard or juicy fruit filling or when using a precooked or raw filling.
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons (about 5 ounces) all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
8 tablespoons (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into about 8 pieces
3 tablespoons ice water, plus more if necessary
Combine the flour, salt, and sugar in a food processor and pulse once or twice. Add the butter and turn on the machine; process until the butter and flour are blended and the mixture looks like cornmeal, about 10 seconds.
Put the mixture in a bowl and add 3 tablespoons ice water; mix with your hands until you can form the dough into a ball, adding another tablespoon or two of ice water if necessary (if you overdo it and the mixture becomes sodden, add a little more flour). Form into a ball, wrap in plastic, and freeze for 10 minutes or refrigerate for at least 30 minutes. (You can refrigerate for up to a couple of days or freeze for up to a couple of weeks.)
Sprinkle a clean countertop with flour, put the dough on it, and sprinkle the top with flour. Use a rolling pin to roll with light pressure, from the center out. If the dough is hard, let it rest for a few minutes. If the dough is sticky, add a little flour (if it continues to become sticky, and it’s taking you more than a few minutes to roll it out, refrigerate or freeze again). Roll, adding flour and rotating and turning the dough as needed; use ragged edges of dough to repair any tears, adding a drop of water while you press the patch into place. (See the illustrations on Rolling the Dough)
When you’ve rolled the dough to a diameter 2 inches larger than that of your pie plate, move it into the pie plate by draping it over the rolling pin and moving it into the plate. Press the dough firmly into the plate all over. Refrigerate for about an hour before filling (if you’re in a hurry, freeze for a half hour or so).
Trim the excess dough to about 1/2 inch all around, then tuck it under itself around the edge of the plate. Decorate the edges with a fork or your fingers, using any of the methods illustrated. Freeze the dough for 10 minutes or refrigerate it for 30 minutes.
When you’re ready to bake, either fill it or prick it all over with a fork for prebaking (see Prebaking Pie and Tart Crusts).
Savory Piecrust. What you want for savory quiches, tarts, and so forth: Omit the sugar. Any of the other variations can be made savory by omitting the sugar as well.
Wheat Piecrust. Adding whole wheat flour gives the crust a more intricate, slightly nutty flavor and a deeper, golden brown color; there’s some sacrifice in texture, but it’s a worthwhile trade-off: Substitute 1/2 cup whole wheat for 1/2 cup of the all-purpose flour. A bit more ice water may be necessary.
Oat Piecrust. Oats give this crust great texture: Substitute just over 1/2 cup rolled oats (not instant) for 1/4 cup of the all-purpose flour. Pulse the oats in a food processor for a few seconds until they are partially ground (mostly flour, but with some roughly chopped pieces).
Nut Piecrust. Rich and delicious, especially with macadamias: Substitute 1/4 cup finely chopped or ground nuts for 1/4 cup of the all-purpose flour. Pulse a few extra times in the food processor before adding the butter in Step 1.