Basic Sweet Pie Crust
By: 
Dish Type: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Ingredient prep: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Makes: 1 single crust
 
Pie crust for a 9 inch pie without a top crust, either raw or partially (blind) baked. For easy-to-follow numbered steps, click the Print button in the upper right corner.
Ingredients
  • 1¼ C flour (about 160 g; plus more for rolling)
  • 2 t sugar
  • ¼ t fine sea salt
  • 1 stick (4 oz.) unsalted butter, cut into cubes and chilled
  • ¼ C (4 T) ice water
Make It
Mix and chill the dough
  1. Pulse flour, sugar, and salt in quick pulses in a medium to large food processor until combined, just a few times.
  2. With the processor off, drop in the butter cubes evenly over the flour. Make sure they're very cold: either refrigerated or frozen for 10 to 20 minutes. It will make your dough much easier to work with. Pulse 30 to 35 times for 1 second each until most of the butter is between small flake and pea sized.
  3. Drizzle ice water into the processor 2 tablespoons at a time. After each addition (two total), pulse a few times, briefly, to incorporate. After adding all the water, process in 10 second intervals, about 5 times, until the mixture holds together in big chunks, but not completely in a ball. Pinch the dough to make sure the chunks hold together without crumbling. If so, it's ready--don't mix any longer than necessary. If the dough does crumble, add one half tablespoon of ice water and process for another few seconds, then check it again.
  4. Turn the dough onto a clean, dry countertop. With clean hands, gather the dough into a ball and press together a few times. Flatten the ball into a disc one to two inches thick. Wrap your hands around the outside of the disc to help smooth any cracks and reduce the potential for cracking when rolling out the dough--this is the one time it's okay if the dough isn't as cold as possible, as it will firm up again when chilled. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for one to two hours. Dough can also be made ahead up to this point. Store the disc in the refrigerator (a few days ahead) or freezer (for months) and allow extra time at room temperature before rolling the dough.
Roll and rest the dough
  1. Remove dough from refrigerator so it has at least 5 minutes to soften slightly for rolling--it may require more time. Liberally flour a clean countertop space, at least 18 inches square. Place disc of dough in the center of the surface, then sprinkle it with more flour. Be generous, as you can brush off excess flour later. Use a rolling pin to roll dough from the center, first in a cross (four strokes--up, down, left, right), then diagonally (four strokes in an "X"). If the dough is very resistant and/or cracks excessively at the edges during rolling, let it rest a few more minutes at room temperature.
  2. About every 16 strokes of the rolling pin, gently lift the dough to make sure it's not sticking to the counter (or the rolling pin). If it does, sprinkle more flour onto the work surface or the top of the dough, or chill the dough again to firm it up. To do so, slide dough from the counter onto the back of a baking sheet or a light cutting board and refrigerate or freeze about 10 to 20 minutes. If the dough temperature is fine, occasionally rotate it a quarter turn or flip it over if you're confident it's cold enough. Both will help compensate for uneven rolling, and ensure your dough doesn't start to stick.
  3. When the dough is 12 to 13 inches in diameter (see FAQs below if the edge of your dough cracks), use a pastry brush to brush off excess flour from both sides (it should be cold enough to flip over), then let it rest for 5 to 10 minutes. If it's still quite cold, you can do this right on the countertop. However, it's safer to transfer it to the back of a baking sheet and chill it in the refrigerator for about 10 minutes. After resting, trim the dough into a 12 inch circle using a paring knife (use a ruler or light, 12 inch diameter dish to measure).
Form the crust
  1. Transfer the rested dough to the pan. Since it's cold, I just pick it up and center it over the pie pan. Let the dough rest there until it's pliable (about 10 to 20 minutes), then push from the edges to mold dough to the pie pan. Don't pull the dough to stretch it, as that may contribute to shrinking during baking (i.e., still edible, not as pretty).
  2. Tuck the overhanging dough (you should have about ½ inch) under so the fold is flush with the edge of the pie pan. You can use a fancy crust crimping technique, but I prefer the more rustic look of using fork tines and pressing into the edge of the crust (and it's much quicker).
  3. Poke holes in the bottom of the crust with a fork, piercing all the way through the crust to the pan, in about a dozen places. Chill for 30 minutes to an hour, or freeze for 15 minutes (uncovered is fine). At this point, if your recipe calls for an unbaked crust, proceed as directed.
Blind (partially) bake the crust (sometimes)
  1. If you have a recipe that includes a "partially baked crust" in the ingredients or directions, you'll need to complete this step. Blind baking the crust helps to keep it from getting soggy when you're using a heavy, rich, liquid filling.
  2. Preheat oven to 425 (F) and place rack in middle position. Line the crust with a large piece of foil or parchment. Fill the crust evenly with 1½ pounds of dried beans, or use pie weights. Let the parchment hang over the edge but don't tuck it tightly under the pan.
  3. Bake for 15 minutes: the crust should look pale (not golden) but not raw. Take crust out of the oven, carefully lift out parchment and weights/beans, going slowly in case the crust sticks slightly to the paper. Return to the oven and bake 3 to 5 minutes more, until barely golden.
  4. Store partially baked crust at room temperature, up to 24 hours, covered with a clean, dry dish towel, until the filling is prepared and it's time to bake your pie. I also found that I could store my blind baked crust in the refrigerator, loosely covered, for a second day before using it. If chilling, allow to come almost to room temperature before using.
Notes
Prep time is active time only. On average, inactive time will be around two and a half hours.

Instead of rolling the dough on a floured surface, you can roll it between two sheets of parchment paper. I've tried both, and while the parchment paper is cleaner, it takes much longer. You must turn the dough frequently, peeling away and resetting the paper to avoid wrinkles and cracks in the dough.

Between foil and parchment, I find that the nonstick qualities of parchment are a little more effective than foil when partially baking the crust.
Recipe by Natural Comfort Kitchen at http://www.naturalcomfortkitchen.com/how-to-make-homemade-pie-crust-from-scratch/