How To Make The Perfect Pie Crust From Scratch

how to make the perfect pie crust

Knowing how to make sweet and savory pies and tarts is not only a must-have skill for any cook, it  can also save the day (or night). Yes, you could buy a tart shell pre-made, but why would you, when making pie crust is easy and takes only a few simple ingredients? Tarts are the perfect vehicle for seasonal ingredients, be them savory or sweet. We especially love pies during the summer months when fresh, ripe berries are in season, which inspires us to make all manner of sweet tarts.

Today, we’re giving you our secret, no-fail recipe and method for the perfect pie crust. All you need is flour, butter, salt and water, and a few tricks up your apron sleeves! Once you’ve nailed this recipe, pie-making will truly be “easy as pie”, and your dough will always come out flaky and buttery.

So, read on, take some notes, and make your most perfect pie crust ever at home tonight!

The Perfect Pie Crust Primer

How To Make the Perfect Pie Crust: Ingredients

2 cups all purpose flour
½ cup butter
½ tsp. salt
4 or 5 tbsps. iced water

How To Make The Perfect Pie Crust: Making The Dough

First, cut the butter into small cubes and put it in the freezer to chill - this is an important step!

Place the flour in a mound on the counter.  Make a large indentation in the center – this should look like a crater of sorts. Grab the butter from the freezer and place the cubes in the center of your “crater”.  Sprinkle ½ tsp. salt.

perfect pie crust

 

You could use a food processor or a pastry cutter for making pie crust, but we like to do it old school, with our fingers. This has the advantage of letting you get a feel for the ingredients, and adjusting as you go. With the tips of your fingers, start breaking apart the butter and mixing it with the flour, working it until you get a coarse, meal-like texture.

Form a small mound, indent the center again, and add 3 tablespoons of iced water. Form the dough ball.

perfect pie crust

 

Start forming the dough with your hands, folding from the outside in. Keep adding the rest of the chilled water (1 or 2 more tbsps.), until the dough ball comes together. Don’t knead. You want the dough to be on the softer side.

Flatten the dough into a disk and wrap in plastic film. Chill in the fridge for at least 20 minutes.

How To Roll Out The Pie Crust

Roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface. When rolling out, keep rotating (for uniformity) and sprinkling more flour to the dough (so it won’t stick). Depending on the tart pan you’re using, make sure you roll at least 2 inches more than the diameter of your pan.

The formula for perfect pie crust success: roll, rotate, sprinkle, repeat!

how to make the perfect pie crust

 

How To UNROLL The Pie Dough Into The Pan

Wrap the dough around your rolling pin, and unroll into your tart pan, previously brushed with melted butter so it won’t stick.

piecrust_3

 

Finally, press gently with your thumbs on the bottom and edges of the mold, making sure the crust makes contact with the pan.

Let at least 1 inch of dough overlap over the edge of the tart shell. Then, crimp it with your fingers, or press your rolling pin over the edge, to flatten.  Cut any excess with a knife or kitchen shears.

How To Make The Perfect Pie Crust: Final Touches

You’ll want to use your perfect pie crust right away, but resist! Chill in in the fridge for 15 minutes before using (use that time to get the oven pre-heated).

If you want to reserve the pie crust for later,  just wrap it in plastic wrap and freeze.

Perfectly finished tart! Ph: Hiroyuki Takeda

A beautiful, perfectly finished tart! Ph: Hiroyuki Takeda

Do you have a trick for making tarts and pies? Share it with us in the comments!

How To Choose Beef: A Primer On Cuts of Meat, Beef Marbling & More

We started our summer blog series with a “How To Grill The Perfect Steak” guide, full of great tips and tricks on how to get that perfect crust, succulent texture and juiciness, every time.  Now, get your knives sharpened, because we’re continuing our series with an essential meat primer. Today: “How To Choose Beef”. Discover all there is to know about different cuts of beef, marbling, texture and more!

How To Choose Beef: Grilling Steak Cuts

Succulent steak cuts! Clockwise from the top, NY Strip, Rib Eye and Filet Mignon. Photo: GourmetFoodWorld.com

There is an incredible selection of meat cuts to choose from nowadays, and new ones seem to be popping up every day. Choosing a steak cut can be intimidating, when the selection includes same-sounding items like sirloin, toploin or tenderloin. How do you choose beef and steak cuts?

We once again turned to our favorite all-around cooking expert, Gary Jones, otherwise known as “The Reluctant Gourmet”.  If anyone could steer us in the right direction of the meat section, it was him.

BOVINE REAL ESTATE

How To Choose Beef: Beef Chart

Cheat sheet: It’s easy to choose beef when you know your cuts of meat!

The Reluctant Gourmet’s secret for choosing the right cut of meat?  Location, location, location. Specifically, the location ON the cow. We’re talking premium cow real estate here!

In very broad strokes, the meat that is cut from the chuck, brisket, plate, round and shank will be much tougher than the meat cut from the rib, loin and flank sections,” says Gary, “this is because those cuts are comprised of muscles that work hard.”

Essentially, muscle is tough, and fat is tender. Fat is what causes that beautiful marbling, the white webbing on the meat. The more tender sections of the animal are, generally, in the middle, where there is less muscle and more fat. Once you get closer to the legs and head, that’s where you get the muscle. So that leaves you essentially with two categories of cuts, ones that require a lengthy cooking to “soften” them, and those that you can “flash-cook” by grilling. If you choose beef that is tender (usually more expensive), you’ll want to grill it.

So the first question you should ask yourself when you go out and choose beef is, “how do I want to cook it?”

CUTS OF MEAT FOR GRILLING

How To Choose Beef: New York StripLeft: New York Strip Ph: GourmetFoodWorld.com How To Choose Beef: Rib Eye Steak Right: Rib Eye Steak Ph: GourmetFoodWorld.com

If you’re going to be grilling, you’ll want a steak cut that has a good amount of fat and marbling, and that comes from the middle/center section of the cow, the Loin, Rib, Flank and the Plate. The steaks cut from this section are tender and have some or a lot of marbling. Steak cuts from the center area include therib eye, porterhouse, strip steak, tenderloin, sirloin, t-bone, top loin, tri-tip, filet mignon, flank, skirt, and hanger steak.  Any of these are tender (some more than others, of course), flavorful, and don’t require lengthy cooking.

Top Steak Cuts For Grilling:

  • Ribeye
  • NY Strip
  • Porterhouse
  • Strip steak
  • Tenderloin
  • Sirloin
  • T-bone
  • Top loin
  • Tri-tip
  • Filet mignon
  • Flank
  • Flatiron
  • Hanger (butcher’s) steak
  • Skirt

CUTS OF MEAT FOR ROASTING, BRAISING & OTHER SLOW COOKING

If you’re choosing beef for slow-cooked dishes like stews, roasts, chillis, or braising, you can use cuts that are very flavorful but tend to be too tough for grilling. These cuts benefit from the extended cooking time, which breaks down the tissue, tenderizes the meat and renders it soft and eminently chewable. For this style of cooking, you’ll want to choose beef cuts from the ends of the animal, like the Chuck, brisket, shank, rump, and blade.  They also are usually more inexpensive than center cuts. Look for anything that says rump, round or roast on the name. Of course, you can always use premium meat cuts as well, but it’ll end up costing you more. You can get similar results with the less expensive cuts.

MEAT BUYING TIPS

Things to looks for when choosing beef, according to Gary, are fat and marbling, “look for a steak that has marbling. It is the thin threads of fat running through the meat that makes it Prime and gives it that incredible flavor”. He also advises to, “ look for steaks with fine texture and firm to the touch; you want the color to be a light cherry red color, not deep red.

Our grilling expert: The Reluctant Gourmet is Gary Jones, a self-taught chef and stay-at-home dad from Philadelphia, attempting to overcome his own “reluctant” tendencies in the kitchen. You can find more great cooking info on his website, www.reluctantgourmet.com.

 

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