How to make a homemade pie crust

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Whoever coined the phrase "easy as pie" probably didn't make pie crusts from scratch. But if you follow the instructions from Chef Scott Cutaneo, the highly acclaimed chef-proprietor of the four-diamond (AAA) Le Petit Chateau in Bernardsville, N.J., you'll make a pie crust that is flaky and beautiful.

How to make a homemade pie crust

Gather your ingredients and tools:

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 4 ounces butter (cold)
  • ¼ cup ice water
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • Sugar
  • Fork
  • Rolling pin
  • Pie plate

Making the pie crust:

  1. Mix the dry ingredients (salt, sugar and flour) together. You can do this in a bowl, or a mixer, but ideally on a marble surface. (Marble is best because it keeps the ingredients cold, and cold ingredients are the key to producing a tender, flaky pie crust.)
  2. Place the mixed dry ingredients in the center of your preparation surface.
  3. Dice the butter into small pieces and cut it into the dry mixture with a fork to ensure that you make a flaky pie crust. (‘Cut into’ means to work the butter into the dry ingredients by pulling a fork across the butter and dry ingredients, breaking the butter up into smaller and smaller pieces until the texture of the mixture is like corn meal.) It’s important to cut in the butter quickly so that it does not melt. The pieces of butter should be no larger than the size of a pea.
  4. Gather the pie crust mixture into the center of your preparation surface and create a well in the center of the mixture.
  5. Gradually add the ice cold water approximately 1 tablespoon at a time, to the center of the mixture. Work the dough with a fork until it starts to pull away from the preparation surface to create one harmonious mixture. The goal is to use the least amount of water possible.
  6. Gather the pie crust mixture to the center once again, form a ball, and knead it a few times.
  7. Scrape and clean your work surface, then sprinkle a little flour in the center and place your dough ball over the flour.
  8. Flour your rolling pin, and then hit the dough ball a few times. (You want to handle the dough as little as possible at this point.)
  9. Roll the dough. When rolling, you never want to roll over the edge of your dough (that creates frayed edges), so roll a little, rotate the dough a quarter turn, roll a little more, rotate a quarter turn more, etc. until the dough is approximately an eighth of an inch thick. Roll until the diameter of the dough is two inches larger than the diameter of your pie plate.
  10. Use a spatula to make sure that the dough comes off your work surface easily, and then slowly roll it around your rolling pin.
  11. Roll the dough over your pie plate. (You don't need to grease your pie plate because there's so much butter in the dough.) Don't stretch the dough, as that will create shrinkage when you bake it.
  12. Using a scissor or knife, trim the dough evenly so that it is two inches larger than the diameter of your pie plate.
  13. Fold over the extra two inches and crimp this extra dough all the way around the pie plate.
If you are making an apple pie, you can double Scott Cutaneo's pie crust recipe for a top and bottom crust.
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Hi I’m Scott Cutaneo for howdini, here today were going to be making a piecrust. So the ingredients we need for this is flour, cold butter, and I’ll explain that further, cold water, salt, and sugar, and the pie plate. So normally you can make this in a bowl or a mixer, ideally on marble because it continues to cold the temperature, and keeps the dough cool. So we’re going to start with our flour on the marble, you can just place that in the center. You can have a lot of fun with this a home as well.

We’re going to add out sugar and our salt, very important any pastry that you have you want to mix our dry ingredients together. So we’re just going to fold that, put that on top and fold that in. Now a very critical step, the butter, which is cut in small pieces, I just took out of the freezer, its very important to cut it in with a fork to ensure that you get a real flaky crust. You want to make sure that the butter does not melt. So we’ll just place that right in the center, its important to work with this quickly. Now we’re just going to cut it in as we call it, the butter needs to stay solid, but you don’t want to make it larger then a pea. So that’s a critical step, so we’re almost done. And to ensure that the butter doesn’t melt as well when we add the water, it’s going to be ice water. You want it to resemble corse cornmeal, so here I’ll put everything back t the center, I’ll create what we call a well. We don’t want to add all the water at the same time. We’re just going to work that dough, the goal is to achieve the least amount of water; it needs to start to pull away to create one harmonious mixture. So that’s why we add the water in small amounts. We’ll add a little more water.

We’re all set. We’re just going to bring all that to the center, and now I want to bring it together and do a few kneads. Again, the butter is, cold butter is the key to this dough. I want to put that there for a second. I just want to scrap my work surface, sprinkle a little flour, take my rolling pin put some flour on that. I want to hit this a few times, again try and keep my hands away from the dough. Okay, and now we’re going to roll it out. So, very important when rolling, you never want to roll over your dough you’ll have frayed edges. So we’re just going to roll a little, quarter turn, roll a little, quarter turn, you want an eighth thickness in our dough. When your rolling it out, we’re rolling a nine inch pie crust, you always want to go around two inches beyond that. So here we have our dough, what I like to do is make sure that you started coming off your work surface. Just remove that slowly; you don’t have to grease our pie plate because we have so much butter in it. We just take this, just like that; we don’t want to stretch our dough because that will cause shrinkage when we cook it. I’m going to take out my scissor, and you want to cut it again, two inches more, so we’re just going to trim. So now we want to fold it over, it’s really easy. So here we’re just going to pinch, pinch, so we’ll just do that all the way around.

All right we’re finished primping, we’re going to use our piecrust for a pumpkin pie, if you were making something such as an apple pie with a top, you would just double the recipe. Here you have a proper pie mold. I’m Scott Cutaneo for howdini.                                

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meet theexpert
  • Scott Cutaneo

    Scott Cutaneo Chef-Proprietor of Le Petit Chateau Chef Scott Cutaneo is the Chef-Proprietor of Le Petit Chateau. Le Petit Chateau and Chef Cutaneo have also been showcased on several major television networks. more about this expert »

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