Pie dough is one of those things that tends to intimidate people, but I’m here to tell you it’s not as complicated as it seems. I think everyone should have a go-to pie dough recipe, and this one has certainly become mine (since I made a ton of it for Clara’s first birthday party). Let me start by saying this is not an all butter pie dough (blasphemy!), but I have my reasons for choosing this recipe after trying many others. During Big Summer Potluck last year, Pam Anderson talked about testing recipes for America’s Test Kitchen. I already knew they put each recipe through rigorous testing, but hearing her explain how methodical and detailed these tests were gave me even more faith in ATK. So if they say the combination of butter and shortening will yield the best pie dough, I’m going to believe them. The other reason I chose this recipe is that I knew from prior experience that doughs made with shortening handle much more easily than all butter doughs, and I needed something easy to work with since I was making several recipes with this dough.
This pie dough is perfect in every way. The butter gives the crust that rich flavor that shortening alone can’t achieve, and the shortening makes the crust extremely tender and flaky. You get the ease and texture of a shortening dough with all the flavors of a butter one, which is pretty much the best thing ever. You can make dough several different ways – in the food processor like I did, in a stand mixer or even by hand – and they’ll all yield similar results. Give it a try! I promise you that once you’ve made and tasted homemade pie crust, you’ll never want to use store-bought again.
I’ve included a step-by-step photo of the dough as it changes with each step so that you can have a visual of what to expect the dough to look like as you proceed with the recipe.
PS – Have you entered my Theo Chocolate giveaway? Details are on this post, and the giveaway is open until Friday.
This pie dough can be made up to one month in advance and will keep, wrapped tightly in plastic wrap, for 1 month in the freezer and 2 days in the refrigerator. Allow to thaw completely before rolling out.
Pulse the flour, sugar and salt together in the bowl of a food processor. Scatter shortening over the top and process until the mixture resembles coarse cornmeal, about 10 seconds. Scatter butter over the top and continue pulsing about 10 times, or until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Add 6 tablespoons of water and pulse just until the dough comes together, adding additional water 1 tablespoon at a time if needed. (If you're worried about the food processor overworking your dough, you can always do this step by hand, using your hands or a rubber spatula to press the dough together. My food processor is very efficient and only takes a few pulses to bring the dough together.)
Weigh the dough, if desired, then divide into two equal pieces. Pat each piece into a disk about 4 inches across and wrap tightly with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour. Before rolling dough, allow it to sit out for 5-10 minutes to soften slightly.
Roll the dough, on a lightly floured work surface, into a 12-inch circle. Carefully fold the dough over the rolling pin and gently unroll it into a 9-inch pie plate, allowing the excess to hang over the edge. Press the dough into place.
Trim all but about ½-inch of dough from the edge of the pie plate. Tuck overhang under itself and crimp the dough with your fingers. Cover with plastic wrap and freeze for 30 minutes before baking.
Proceed with baking as directed in your recipe.
Adapted from The Cook's Illustrated Cookbook