This easy pie crust post is filled with tips and tricks with step by step instructions for creating a perfect, no-fail pie crust.
In the baking world there are certain desserts that are known for being more temperamental than others. Pastry is at the top of the list. Bakers that have mastered pastry have bragging rights as it’s not an easy accomplishment. I am a self taught home baker that has made countless pies and in return has had countless, ready for it…shreek…shrinking pie crusts.
Yes, it happens to the best of us. The Vanilla Bourbon Chocolate Pecan Pie pictured above was made with my no fail pie crust. No shrinking in sight!
There are many factors that goes into a successful pie crust and there are just as many factors that goes into the failures. I was a girl on a mission with this post. Bake the perfect blind DEEP dish pie crust.
The ultimate test.
If the crust is going to shrink, it’s more likely to happen without a structured filling or when the walls of the pie are high.
So here we go…
Considerations when making pie crusts
When working with pastry there are several important things to keep in mind.
Everyone loves a flaky and tender pie crust. In order to achieve this the dough needs to be kept cold throughout the whole process which means you need to work with cold ingredients, on a cold surface, and make sure the dough is still cold when it goes into the oven to bake.
Allow the dough rest
Pie dough that has been allowed time to rest tends to be more resistant to shrinking. I allow two rests periods for my dough, one in the refrigerator and one at room temperature.
Avoid stretching the dough
My recipe calls for about 20% more ingredients than you typically see in a pie crust recipe. The reason is two-fold. You want to have enough dough to work with that you can easily lay it in the pie plate, gently arrange it so it is nestled in on all sides and still have
1. plenty of overhand to form a thick crust and
2. arrange without pulling on the dough.
Dough that has been stretched or pulled is likely to shrink while baking.
Avoid overworking the dough
In baking there are times we want ingredients well incorporated and times we want to barely mix. Pastry somewhat falls into the later category. We want a tender and flaky pie crust which means minimal handling. The more the dough is worked, the less tender it will become.
Filling the pie crust
In order for unfilled pies to avoid shrinking, the pie must be filled with something to hold its shape. There are various ways to do this but I prefer using parchment paper and dried beans. Just make sure you use enough beans to fill the pie up to the rim of the crust or, you guessed it, it may fall or shrink.
I tend to use a large food processor to mix everything together. I find it to be a little more efficient. If you don’t have a food processor just add everything in by hand, cutting the butter into the flour with a pastry cutter.
The baking method you will chose will be based on the type of pie you are making. Some pie dough must first be baked prior to adding a filling, others can be baked with the filling.
Blind baking the pie crust (for cream pies)
Blind baking refers to baking the pie crust prior to filling it. As discussed above, this requires filling the pie with pie weights or dried beans to help it hold it’s shape.
With filled pies you will simply add your filling of choice and bake as instructed. Just make sure the pie filling goes all the way up to the rim of the crust.
Make the pie dough in a food processor (with pictures)
Note: This makes TWO pie doughs.
- Add the flour, sugar, and salt to a large food processor. Pulse 2-3 times to just combine.
- Cut the COLD butter into cubes.
- Add the cold butter to the food processor. Give a few pulses, until the butter starts to incorporate into the flour. You want to keep some large chunks of butter at this point. See the large chunks of butter below in step 3? That’s a good thing and will help us achieve a flaky crust.
- Next, fill a bowl with cold water and ice. Measure out 3/4 cup water. Turn the food processor to the dough setting and while it’s running add the cold water in a slow and steady stream. Continue running the food processor until the dough comes together and forms a ball on one side of the food processor.
Shape, rest, and roll out the pie crust dough (with pictures)
5. Flour the surface you will be rolling the dough on. The surface will need to be cool for best results.
6. Form into a ball.
7. Cut the dough ball in half, shape each half into a ball, and then flatten into a disc. Wrap the dough tightly with plastic wrap and allow to rest in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.
8. After 30 minutes, remove from the refrigerator and allow to rest at room temperature for 5-10 minutes to soften. Roll out on a floured surface with a floured rolling pin. Note: if you don’t need both pie crusts, then you can freeze the other one for up to 3 months. Just make sure it is wrapped tightly in freezer wrap.
9. Transfer the pastry to your pie plate. To adjust the pastry, use the Lift-and-Place Method. Always lift the pastry and gently move it. If you pull then you run the risk of stretching the dough. Stretched dough equals shrinking. Leave at least 1 inch of dough hanging over the edge of the pie. Trim off any excess dough and set aside for later if needed.
10. Next, make the crust by folding the outer edges underneath to make a double layer of dough. Remember those scrapes of dough? You may need to use them now to pad any thin areas. Just add it to the underneath side wherever needed and press.
11. Tuck the dough edges under all the way around the pie.
12. Make it look pretty by fluting the edge of the dough.
13. Fill the pie with filling or line with parchment paper and fill with dried beans/pie weights if blind baking
14. Brush the crust with cream or a beaten egg if desired so the crust browns evenly to a golden brown.
So now that you have this amazing, no-fail pie crust, what to do with it?
A few of my favorite pies:
Vanilla Bourbon Chocolate Pecan Pie
Brandied Pumpkin Pie
French Apple Pie
Old Fashioned Chocolate Pie: Grandma Thompson’s Recipe
Easy Pie Crust: No Fail Method
- large food processor
- dried beans or pie weights (if blind baking the crust without a filling)
- 3 cups flour
- 2 tbsp sugar
- 1 1/4 tsp salt
- 20 tbsp (2 1/2 sticks) salted butter cubed
- 1/2 cup + 2 tbsp ice cold water
- 5 1/2 cups dried beans (or you can use pie weights)
- cream or beaten egg with 1 tbsp water for egg wash
- Add the flour, sugar, and salt to a large food processor. Pulse 3 times to just combine.
- Cut each stick of butter into cubes (I cut mine into 32 cubes)
- Add the butter to the food processor (spread throughout)
- Pulse several times to barely incorporate the butter into the flour mixture.
- Fix a bowl with ice and 2 cups of water.
- Turn the food processor on and slowly add the water through the tunnel.
- Continue to run the food processor until the dough comes together in a ball on one side of the food processor.
- Flour your working surface with several tablespoons of flour
- Dump the dough out onto the floured surface and form into a ball.
- Flatten the dough ball out into the shape of a disc.
- Wrap tightly with plastic wrap
- Place in the refrigerator and allow to rest for about 30 minutes
- Remove from the refrigerator and allow to rest for 5-10 minutes.
- Flour your working surface with 2 tbsp flour.
- Unwrap the dough from the plastic wrap.
- Roll out the dough so that it allows for at least one inch of overhang when placed in the pie plate.
- Transfer the dough to the pie plate.
- Lift the dough and gently arrange it in the pie plate, taking care not to stretch the dough or it may shrink during the bake.
- Trim off any excessive dough overhang and reserve the scraps.
- Tuck the edges of the dough under to form the crust, using the reserved scraps to fill in any thin areas.
- Flute the edges.
- If the pie dough is no longer cool to the touch then put it into the refrigerator for about 10 minutes before blind baking or filling.
- Prick the bottom and sides of the dough with a fork.
- Add parchment paper to the inside of the pie crust.
- Fill the inside of the pie crust with dried beans or pie weights.
- Brush the crust with cream or egg wash if desired.
- Bake at 400 for 16 minutes, remove the pie weights and then continue baking for an additional 8 minutes or until the crust is a golden brown.
- Add filling to the pie crust.
- Brush the crust with cream or egg wash if desired.
- Bake as directed.