How to Make a Pie Crust

by Lisa Rosen on June 14, 2011

This is what I use to make pie crust.  The stuff in the tub is lard.  Yes–I said lard.  Note that the flour is straight out of the freezer.

You want 13 ounces of flour, 1 stick of butter, 4 ounces of lard, 3/4 T. of sugar, and 3/4 t. of salt.  Those are the proportions Karen Barker (pie guru and pastry chef at Magnolia Grill in Durham, NC) uses in Sweet Stuff.

Put the flour, sugar, and salt in your food processor and pulse to combine.  Then add the butter and lard, and process until it’s the texture of coarse cornmeal.  I find (especially in summer) that sometimes it skips the cornmeal stage and goes right to big moist clumps.  It’s never been a problem.

Dump it all into a big mixing bowl, and add a few tablespoons (1/4-1/2 cup) of ICE water.  Using a fork, quickly stir as you add the water, and stop adding when the mixture begins to clump together.

When it sticks together (mostly) in a rough mass, divide the dough in half and dump each half onto a piece of plastic wrap. NOTE:  because I’m anal, I weigh each half, so that they’re about equal.

Form each mass of dough into a rough disk, and wrap tightly.

Now–this part is important:  PUT IT IN THE FREEZER.  You could put it in the fridge, but what I like to do is make a whole bunch of crusts at once (why get flour all over the kitchen four times, when you can just make one giant mess, then be done) and store them in the freezer.  Then when I want to make a pie, I pull a crust out a couple of hours ahead of time, then thaw it (either in the fridge or on the counter, or alternating) till it’s pliable enough to roll out.

When you’re ready to roll out the crust, lightly flour your counter and the top of the dough.  Roll from the middle out.

It might crack a little.  Don’t stress; just gently mash the cracked part back together.

When it’s all rolled out (I hold the pie plate over it, to guesstimate), carefully fold it in half (a bench knife is really helpful here),

then again into quarters.

Center the folded crust over the pie plate (use those geometry skills from 9th grade) and gently unfold it.  I try to trim the excess so that there’s an even 1/2 inch (give or take) all the way around; this means taking from some spots and patching onto other spots.  Then I fold the excess under to make a tidy crust.  You can press the edge with a fork, or do that cool fluting with your thumb and forefinger, or you can just leave it straight and have a nice clean edge.

And voila!  Pie crust. You have a choice now:  you can put it in the fridge or freezer for 15 or 20 minutes while you get the filling ready, or you can freeze it and use it later.

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