All Butter Pie Crust
After years of making pie crust in a variety of ways – by hand, mixer and food processor, using all butter and blends of butter and shortening, even playing around with liquids – for my all-purpose pie crust I have come to prefer an all-butter crust made in the food processor with ice water. The flavor is exceptional and since the metal blade is so sharp and fast, it cuts the chilled butter in quickly, yielding a flaky textured crust. The proportions are quite typical and if you do not have a food processor, feel free to make it by hand for a good approximation, in which case take care not to overwork it; I have provided directions for both techniques. You will find two ingredient lists: one for a double crust and one for a single crust. However, piecrust freezes so well, I suggest you always make the double crust, as it doesn’t take any longer to make the larger batch and having a frozen crust at hand will always come in handy.
Double Butter Pie Crust
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) chilled unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
4 to 6 tablespoons ice cold water
Single Butter Pie Crust
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) well chilled unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
2 to 3 tablespoons ice cold water
For the Food Processor Technique: Place flour and salt in bowl of food processor fitted with metal blade and pulse to combine. Add butter and pulse on and off until it forms a very coarse meal; there might be pockets of butter that are larger, which is fine. Drizzle in the smaller amount of water through feed tube and pulse until dough is moistened and just holds together if squeezed. Add additional water only if necessary. Gather dough into two balls and flatten into discs. Wrap dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 2 hours or up to 2 days. May also be frozen for 1 month, in which case, protect further by placing in zipper top bag; defrost in refrigerator overnight. Let dough soften slightly at room temperature before rolling out.
For the By-hand Technique: Whisk together flour and salt in medium bowl to blend. Add butter and cut in, using a pastry blender or two knives until the fat is cut into approximately 1/8-inch pieces. Sprinkle smaller amount of water over flour mixture and toss with fingers or fork until evenly moistened and dough just holds together if squeezed. Add additional water only if necessary. Gather dough into two balls and flatten into discs. Wrap dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 2 hours or up to 2 days. May also be frozen for 1 month, in which case, protect further by placing in zipper top bag; defrost in refrigerator overnight. Let dough soften slightly at room temperature before rolling out.
Tip: The butter must be very cold. Ideally, the butter is removed from refrigerator, cut into pieces, then placed in freezer for 15 minutes before proceeding. Or, alternatively, what I like to do is store the correct amount of butter in individual zipper top bags in the freezer and remove about 10 minutes before you begin making the dough; this way, you have very cold pre-measured butter ready to go. To make the ice-cold water, I pour a generous amount of water in a measuring cup, add some ice cubes and let it sit for a few minutes for the ice cubes to chill the water. Then I remove the cubes, re-measure the water and proceed. In the middle of summer, if there is no air-conditioning, you can freeze the flour for 15 minutes, too.