Learning how to make pie crust is an essential skill for the thanksgiving to Christmas season. From sweet potato and pumpkin pie to quiches and tarts, blind baking ensures that the crust stays nice crumbly (not soggy) and allows you to bake delicate fillings at a lower temp for a shorter time.
Pie crust ingredients
Pie crust (the equivalent or shortcrust pastry) is all about the butter. It has only half the butter as a puff pastry and uses a simple flour to fat to water ratio of 3:2:1 (120g of flour : 80g of butter: 40g of water). Good quality butter makes good quality pie crust so don’t skimp out on good butter. For color and flavor, we also add some salt and sugar, also some lemon juice to prevent shrinkage.
How to make pie dough
The first step in making pie crust is to whisk together the flour, salt, and sugar in a mixing bowl. After that, you have to incorporate the butter.
There are several ways you can incorporate the butter into flour to make pie dough. You can freeze the blocks of butter and grate them into the dough, or you can place the flour into a food processor with cubes of cold butter and process it into crumbles or you can even just add the whole 1/4 inch cubes and form a dough with that.
Good pie crust requires all the ingredients to be cold. Cold liquid and especially cold butter. Speaking of butter, try to avoid using your hands as much as possible when making pie crust. Visible specs of butter inside the pastry dough make those flaky layers, if you use your hands you melt those specs resulting in a dryer, brittle pie crust. A rubber spatula or butter knife works well to combine the ingredients effortlessly.
Use your hands to rub the butter and flour mixture until it resembles bread crumbs. There shouldn’t be any chunks of butter larger than dried beans or peas in the mixture. Pour in 40 grams of cold water and 20 grams of lemon juice to prevent shrinkage.
Combine all the ingredients into a brought dough, dump it onto a clean surface, and use your hands to quickly combine the ingredients into a dough ball. Wrap in cling film and rest it in the fridge for at least an hour.
How to Form a pie crust
Blind baking a pie crust means baking an empty pie crust in a hot oven (without filling) to give it a headstart especially when baking with delicate fillings like custard, sweet potato pie, or pumpkin pie. Youll need a few essentials for that:
- A pie dish: You can get them made of glass, steel, enamel, and ceramic. If you don’t have a pie dish you can use other things like springform pans, cake tins, muffin pans, tart pans, or cast-iron dishes. As long as it’s ovenproof and the correct size.
- A Rolling pin: You can get rolling pins out of all kinds of materials too; primarily wood or metal (marble, granite, plastic, etc). If you want to make your life a little bit easier you can buy a rolling pin with plastic disks that allow you to roll out the dough with accurate thickness.
- Pie weights: Pie weights are little ceramic balls that go into the crust before it goes into the oven. Pie weights keep the sides from sinking down the dish and it keeps the bottom of the pie from puffing up as a result of the steam. You can buy pie weights online or alternatively you can use rice or dry beans.
- Parchment paper: Before you add the weights to the crust you have to add a layer of parchment paper. That way after hardening the pie crust in the oven, you can easily remove the weights and place it back into the oven for some color.
Lightly flour a surface and use your rolling pin to press the dough into a disk. Start rolling out the dough flipping, rotating, and flouring as needed after every few rolls for consistency. When the dough is 1/8 of an inch thick carefully pick it up then lay it onto your pie dish. Shape it in the dish, cut off any excess with scissors, then fold the edges of the dough into themselves. Crimple the edges then rest the pie dish in the fridge for at least an hour.
How thick should pie crust be?
Most pie recipes call for a pie crust is 1/8 of an inch thick and there are a lot of ways you can measure that. One way is to use a ruler or some form of measuring kitchen device but there are some less conventional ways. Two quarters stacked on top of each other come out to 1/8 of an inch.
How to bake a pie crust
Before you bake a pie crust it’s important that you place the dough in the fridge for at least an hour before baking. Unrested, room temperature pie crust will slide off the edges of the dish. Place the dough (already shaped into the dish) in the fridge for 1+ hours prior to baking.
Place a circle of parchment paper over the pie crust and fill it with pie weights. Make sure there are plenty lining the edges to support the crust. Bake the pie crust at 375°F for 15-20 minutes removing the pie weights 5 minutes prior to it finishing. Let the crust cool before filling and baking it again.
- Cut the butter into 1/4 inch cubes and place them in the freezer with the water and lemon juice to cool.
- In a separate bowl whisk together the flour, sugar, and salt.
- Add the cubes of butter into the flour mixture and use your hands or a food processor to combine them until they resemble bread crumbs.
- Make a well in the center then pour in the cold water and lemon juice.
- Use a dough whisk or a butter knife or something similar that won't stick badly to combine the ingredients into a dough. Avoid using your hands as much as possible.
- Once well-combined use your hands to form the dough into a ball, wrap in cling film, and place in the fridge to rest for an hour.
- An hour later remove the pastry dough from the fridge and flour a rolling pin and a work surface.
- Drop the dough onto the floured work surface then roll out the pastry (flipping often and flouring as needed to avoid sticking)until it is wider than the base of your pie dish. How much more will depend on how high the walls of the pie dish is.
- Carefully lift the pie crust and place it onto the pie dish then gently use your fingers to shape it in the dish.
- Make a circle of parchment paper around 2-3 inches larger than the base of the pie dish then cover the pie crust with cling film and place it in the fridge for 1 hour.
- 45 minutes in preheat the oven to 400°F
- Once the oven is preheated remove the pie crust from the fridge, line it with the parchment paper then weigh down the pastry using 1 ½ pounds of pie weights.
- Bake the pastry for 20 minutes to harden the crust.
- Once hardened take the crust out of the oven, remove the weights, then place the crust back into the oven for 5-10 minutes to get some color.
- Remove the oven and allow to cool before handling.