This quick and simple guide on how to make all butter basic pie crust is the only pie dough recipe you’ll ever need! With step-by-step photos.
Pie crust was the one pastry I was most afraid of tackling when I first started baking. It was the combination of keeping the butter for the pastry cold enough in a hot apartment and the fear of getting a cooked pie with a soggy bottom.
And how much is “just enough” ice water for the dough to come together? Why do you add vinegar to pie crust? Or make vodka pie crust? Because of these questions I didn’t make my own homemade pie crust until a few years ago.
We love a good pie here at Baked, and we’re really happy to have a great basic pie crust recipe to share with you now! This is the recipe used for the crust of our granny smith apple pie, and it’s great to have on hand for any number of pies or galettes, especially during the holiday seasons.
If you want to to get fancy, check out this guide on how to make a lattice pie crust, with four tips on making it extra beautiful. Or, take a look at these tips for add-ins to make a next level pie crust. And if you’d love to make a pie but can’t have dairy, don’t worry – we have a recipe for vegan pie dough, and spelt pie crust too!
What Makes A Good Pie Crust?
Here’s what I want in a pie crust: a substantial pastry that still has many delicate layers. A bottom that isn’t soggy and still has crisp when the fork hits the second layer of pastry. A crust that has great mouthfeel but isn’t chewy. Lastly, a crust with intense buttery flavour.
All Butter Crust
In theory, all butter pie crust is simple. A combination of unsalted butter, flour, sugar, salt, and cold water, it’s made with ingredients you already have in your kitchen! You combine them together, roll it out the dough, and bake it with your favourite filling.
Easy enough right? But you see, it’s the way you incorporate those simple ingredients together that’s crucial. The goal is to ‘cut’ the butter into the flour (with a pastry cutter or fork), meaning you are literally creating and coating pockets of butter/fat with flour. When baked, these pockets of fat melt creating those flaky layers we all love.
Troubleshooting Basic Pie Crust
There are two problems which can arise when cutting butter into flour to make simple pie crust:
- If you don’t cut the butter in quite enough it can result in a dry dough, meaning you need extra water to absorb the dry flour. This can result in the over-formation of gluten, leading to a tough crust.
- If you cut the butter too finely into the flour you can end up with a crumbly, rather than a flaky, pastry.
5 Tips For Making The Best Basic Pie Crust
This all may sound intimidating but TRUST me, it will all make sense once you start making the dough! You will get the hang of it, especially after making the recipe a few times. You’ll get a feel for the dough and learn to understand what it means when a pie dough “comes together”. To make your pie dough journey less intimidating, here are 5 tips for making the best pie crust:
1. Keep your ingredients VERY cold.
Your butter should be very cold — you can even freeze it! Throw your bowl and flour in the freezer too and keep things extra cold for the dough making process. The colder the ingredients and equipment, the less risk there is for the butter to melt or become overworked.
2. Add a dash of apple cider vinegar to your pie dough.
Add 1 – 2 teaspoons of apple cider vinegar to your favorite recipe. Mix the vinegar into your ice water so when you sprinkle water into your flour and butter mixture, some of the vinegar will get in there too. Vinegar helps inhibits the formation of gluten, which can make for a tough crust. The apple cider vinegar might smell strong, but you won’t be able to taste it once the pie has been baked.
3. Rest your dough.
After you roll out your basic pie dough, shape it into a disc (or two discs if you’re making a double crust pie), wrap it tightly with beeswax wrap or plastic wrap, and let it chill in the fridge for at least 30 minutes. This will make your dough easier to roll out.
4. Don’t overflour your work surface when you roll out your pie dough.
Don’t let your pie dough pick up any extra flour it doesn’t really need. If necessary, use a piece of parchment paper to prevent the dough from sticking to your rolling pin, and even better is to roll the dough between two pieces of parchment paper.
5. Have fun!
Pie making is supposed to be fun! Don’t let it stress you out. Even if you think you messed up, we’re pretty sure your pie will still be delicious!
Step By Step Photos For The Flakiest Pie Crust
Follow along below to see a step-by-step photo guide incorporating all the key elements we mentioned above to create the flakiest pie dough for a pie or galette.
Scroll to the bottom of the post to see the recipe in full.
Looking For More Pie Recipes? Try:
- 2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 ¼ cups very cold butter, unsalted, cut into ½ inch pieces
- ½ cup cold water
- 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
- ½ cup ice
- In a large bowl, stir together the flour, sugar, and salt.
- Add the butter pieces to the flour mixture and stir to coat the butter. Using a pastry blender, cut the butter into the flour mixture. Working quickly, mix until the pieces of butter are about pea sized. A few larger pieces are okay.
- In another bowl, combine the water, vinegar, and ice.
- Add two tablespoons of the water mixture to the flour and butter blend. Mix, cutting it in with a pastry cutter or spatula, until fully incorporated.
- Continue to add the liquid one or two tablespoons at a time, mixing with each addition, until the dough comes together into a loose ball.
- Shape the dough into two flat discs, using a light tough and working quickly, and wrap in beeswax wrap or plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least an hour.
- Once the dough has chilled, it's ready to be rolled out and used. Roll it between two sheets of parchment paper to the size of the pie plate, or about ⅛ inch (30mm) thick.
- Unbaked dough can be frozen, very well wrapped, for up to three months. Thaw in the refrigerator overnight before using.
- If you want to make it ahead, the dough can be refrigerated for up to 4-5 days before rolling and using.
- An egg wash is always a nice addition to pie crust when baking - simply brush with a beaten egg before baking for a nice shine and colour.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 322Total Fat: 23gSaturated Fat: 14gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 8gCholesterol: 61mgSodium: 216mgCarbohydrates: 25gFiber: 1gSugar: 1gProtein: 3g
This is an approximation of the nutrition offered in this recipe, and is created using a nutrition calculator.