Yield: 1 - 10 inch pie crust (can be doubled)
1¼cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon cornstarch
¼ teaspoon salt
10 tablespoons unsalted butter, preferably a European-style butter
like Plugra, cut into ½-inch pieces and re-chilled
2 to 5 tablespoons ice cold vodka (it evaporates and makes crust flakier)
1. In a food processor, briefly pulse together the flour, cornstarch and salt. Add butter and pulse until mixture forms chickpea-size pieces (3 to 5 one-second pulses).
2. Add vodka 1 tablespoon at a time, the fewer tablespoons the better. Pulse after adding each tablespoon until mixture is just moist enough to hold together.
3. Form dough into a ball, wrap with plastic and flatten into as wide a disk as you quickly can. Refrigerate at least 1 hour before rolling out and baking. If doubling the recipe for two crusts, be sure to divide dough into two balls and form two disks before chilling.
4. Prebaked Crust: Preheat oven to 375 degrees. On a lightly floured surface, roll out pie crust to a 12-inch circle. Transfer crust to a 10-inch pie plate. Fold over any excess dough, then crimp edges. Prick crust all over with a fork. If you have time, freeze crust for 15 to 30 minutes; otherwise skip this step. Cover pie with aluminum foil and fill with pie weights (you can use pennies, rice or dried beans for this). Bake for 15 minutes; remove foil and weights and bake until pale golden, 5 to 7 minutes more. Cool on rack until needed.
NOTE: The European butter has a much higher fat content and is much better for pie crust.
PIE DOUGH TRICKS
- Don’t linger in handling the dough. Slap it into shape ASAP and get your hands off it. This is especially true if you are hand blending the flour/butter mixture instead of using a processor.
- Vodka works better than milk or ice water because the alcohol evaporates in the cooking process leaving no flavor and making a dryer, flakier crust.
- European butter has a much higher fat content and makes a better crust.
- Particularly for fruit pies, glass pie plates are better because they allow you to see the bottom of the crust and know when it has cooked enough.
- Try to roll out your dough in a single direction to get an even thickness. Move the board as needed.
- The addition of 1 tablespoon of cornstarch increases the stability of the dough and adds to the desired flaky texture.
- Make sure all your ingredients, instruments and tools are ice cold. Including:
- Cutting board (I use an extra-large, stable (it has rubber feet) wooden one. It goes into the freezer the day before I will be using it for rolling out). A marble one would be lovely, but it’s heavy, single purpose and expensive.
- Rolling pin
- Vodka should be kept in the freezer until used. If you’re using milk or ice water, have ready & in the refrigerator waiting.
- Cut the butter into the bite size pieces and put it back into the refrigerator until you’re ready to mix it with the flour.
- Measure out your flour and keep it in the refrigerator overnight.
- Place the rolled out pie dough in its plate in the refrigerator at least ½ hour before baking.
Click here to read the New York Times Pie Debates