Maybe not everyone considers pie a staple, but I sure do.
Pie for breakfast: absolutely. Pie for dessert: sure. Pie with wine on the boat for dinner: yes, please. I love pie. I just didn’t know how to make a good one until recently.
My whole life I thought there was shortening in pie crust. I tried and failed on so many occasions to make a good crust. With so many tips and tricks googled and multiple attempts fussing about how cold my water was before I drizzled it into flour and ever-so-carefully cut the mixture into just the right sized lumps without trying to touch it too much….
My whole, pie-marking, adult life, I thought there was shortening in pie crust: wrong. Like most delicious things, pie crust should be made with butter. It’s when we insult the flour with less-than amazing alternatives, that it gets angry and refuses to become a perfect flaky pie crust. Once you just give the flour what it wants [butter] you no longer have to fuss with your pie crusts. Delicious every time. Promise.
The best simple pie crust recipe, ever.
We keep this on a sticky note on the fridge and I think you should too.
- 2 Cups Flour [any kind you want]
- 1 T sugar
- Pinch of salt [more if you use unsalted butter]
- 1 1/2 sticks of butter out of the fridge [but i have used half from the fridge and half room temp in a hurry]
- A sprinkle of water [cold from the tap or room temp, either works]
I combine everything but the water with a hand pastry blender or 2 knives, leaving plenty of pea sized and larger chunks.
Sprinkle with a little water, just enough to start making flaky chunks. You are not going for a ball of dough here. More like a bunch of larger stringy, dusty clumps of flour that might co-exist in a ball if you forced them together but would quickly fall apart again. But don’t squish them just yet.
Once I have most – not all – of the flour wet enough to stick to each other, but not to me. I gather it up and place it on plastic wrap (it still only vaguely resembles a ball and there should be dusty pieces falling off).
You can form it into a ball now wrap it in plastic wrap and place it into the fridge if you want to roll it later. Or if you are in a pinch, roll out immediately between plastic wrap sheets. As you role it out, the butter spreads out and makes up for the lack of water, holding everything together. You should be able to see butter chunks once rolled out. Remove one sheet of plastic and press into a pie tin.
- Vanilla (optional… add what you want! 🙂
…Or better yet, skip the pie tin and make a beautiful gallette. All you have to do is remove one of the plastic sheets, then dust the dough with a little flour so it will slide around on a cookie sheet. Here is the secret to an amazing gallette: ground almonds and sugar. Trust me on this. No one knows its there but it gives an amazing flavor and texture to the bottom of the gallette that is fantastic but still subtle enough that no one can put their finger on it. So, so good.
At this step, I generally use our mini kitchen aid food processor / immersion blender combo-thing to rough blend a handful of almonds with a couple tablespoons of sugar while Adam chops the filling fruit. [He is the one with all the knife skills around here.]
Sprinkle the almond sugar powder on the bottom of the crust. Arrange the fruit (tossed in sugar and whatever you’d like) on the crust, fold up the edges and toss in the oven. Its a very good idea to add cookie sheets on the oven racks below this pie, because the butter and sugar tend to drip out.
Enjoy with coffee or wine – depending on time of day.
Kate & Adam