Pie dough can stump or intimidate many novice bakers, but with some practice you’ll be turning out beautiful crusts in no time. When I worked in a professional bakery, I would make HUGE batches of pie dough in a 60 quart mixer. While this was efficient for making 25+ pies at a time, I definitely prefer making pie dough by hand. You develop a “feel” for the dough after you’ve made it enough times, and your instincts will kick in no matter what variables exist (weather, flour type, etc). This is my basic crust recipe, which I’ve set on after trying various recipes from NYT Cooking, Baking Illustrated, and my most beloved pie resource: The Four & Twenty Blackbirds Pie Book. If you’re in the New York area and you’d like a damn good slice of pie, go to Four & Twenty. You won’t be disappointed!
Pie Dough / Pâte Brisée
Makes two 9 or 10-inch crusts
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 sticks butter (170g), cut into cubes and chilled for 15 minutes
1 tbsp sugar
1/2 cup ice water + 2 tbsp vodka
Whole Wheat Variation: for a heartier, slightly more flavorful dough, sub 1/2 cup of the all purpose flour with 1/2 cup of whole wheat flour.
For visual learners, here’s a step by step recipe I made on my Instagram story.
1. In a large bowl, whisk the flour and sugar with a big pinch of salt.
2. Toss the chilled butter cubes into the flour. Using your thumb and pointer finger, smash the butter pieces into the flour. Break up all of the pieces while tossing them into the flour. This will create the flaky layers we love and yearn for. If at any time the butter begins melting, stop and place the entire bowl in the freezer for 10 minutes.
3. When the butter is fully broken into the flour (hence the French name pâte briseé: broken dough), gradually add the water and vodka mixture, 2 to 3 tablespoons at a time. Stir with a spatula after each addition and continue until a dough begins to form.
4. Turn the dough out onto a clean work surface and lightly pack it together. Using a bench knife or similar tool, cut the dough into 2 equally sized pieces. Wrap in plastic and store in the fridge for at least an hour or up to 3 days before using.
5. To roll: lightly flour your work surface and remove the pie dough from the plastic wrap. Press the dough firmly with a rolling pin from top to bottom to begin flattening it. Turn it 90 degrees and repeat the process, then begin rolling out into a circle. Flour lightly as needed. Chill rolled dough on a baking sheet wrapped in plastic if not using right away.