Perfecting the Pie Crust, Tips and Tricks for Flaky Perfection!

Pie crust – the real hero of every pie. It’s the buttery, flaky base upon which sweet or savoury fillings are layered. The perfection of a pie crust is an art form that has been passed down through generations, and today, we’re going to talk about the secrets, techniques, and tips to help you master this culinary masterpiece.  

Step 1 – Gather the correct ingredients 

Remember, quality matters! We recommend always choosing COLD unsalted butter, ice-cold water, all-purpose flour, and a pinch of salt. These ingredients lovingly mixed will create pie-fection! 

Step 2 – Keep It Cold 

Cold is your crust’s best friend. Cold ingredient utensils are essential. Pop your flour, salt, and even your mixing bowl in the refrigerator for a while before you start; we are 100% serious. Cold butter, when it hits the hot oven, creates steam pockets that make your crust wonderfully flaky and buttery, which is vital to creating the perfect crust. The colder the dough, the flakier the pie crust. 

What happens when the pie dough is warm?  

The butter in the pie crust will melt BEFORE BAKING, meaning the flakiness and structure will be lost. You will end up with a hard, crunchy and greasy crust. 

Step 3- Cut the Butter Just Right 

The key to flaky perfection is the way you cut in the butter. You want pea-sized chunks of butter in your dough. We recommend using a pastry cutter or two knives to create the perfect size. And remember, it’s okay if there are a few larger and smaller bits – that’s what makes your crust oh-so-flaky. 

Step 4 – Ice Water Is Your Secret Weapon 

When it’s time to add water, make sure it’s ice-cold. Cold water prevents the butter from melting prematurely meaning your steam pockets will work perfectly! Use a tablespoon to add the water gradually and stop as soon as the dough starts coming together. Use just enough ice-cold water so your dough holds its shape when rolling out. When in doubt, add a little more water – you can always add more flour into the dough when rolling it out, but you can’t really add more water… 

Step 5 – Chill Out 

No, we’re not talking about taking a break. We’re talking about giving your dough some chill time in the fridge. Wrap it in clingfilm and let it rest for at least 1 hour (In the freezer) or ideally 2 hours (in the fridge) before using. This step allows the gluten to relax and helps prevent a tough crust; this step is non-negotiable – it’s the most crucial step for the entire pie crust. 

Step 6 – Roll with Care 

When it’s time to roll out your pie crust, do so with a gentle touch. Use a well-floured surface and roll from the centre outward and work your way out in all directions this ensures an even thickness. Top tip: Roll the pastry between two sheets of parchment paper to avoid sticking and make transferring to your pie dish a breeze. We recommend chilling the rolled pastry for another 10 minutes just to ensure the butter is cold enough to react in the oven! 

Step 7 – The Edging 

Once your dough is lovingly placed in your pie dish, it’s time to get creative with your edges. You can crimp, flute, or simply use a fork to create a decorative edge. This step not only adds a touch of elegance but also seals the deal on your pie’s aesthetics. It’s a little touch that will elevate your pie hugely. 

Step 8 – Blind Bake for the Win 

For certain pies with wet fillings, like apple pie or custard pies, we recommend blind baking your crust. This involves partially baking the crust before adding the filling. To do this, simply line the crust with parchment paper and fill it with pie weights or dried beans. Bake it until it’s just starting to turn golden, and voila – no soggy bottom.  

Step 9 – Egg Wash Magic 

To achieve that beautiful desired golden-brown finish, simply brush your pie crust with an egg wash before baking. Whisk together an egg and a splash of water, then lightly brush it onto the crust’s surface. It adds a lovely sheen and enhances the overall presentation. 

The Final Step – Practice Makes Perfect 

Perfecting the pie crust is an art which takes practice. Don’t be discouraged if your first attempt doesn’t turn out as you hoped. With each pie you bake, you’ll learn and improve your technique. Plus, even imperfect pie is still pie, and who can resist a slice of homemade goodness? 

Overall, the art of perfecting pie crust is a journey filled with buttery, flaky delights. It’s an amazing skill which can elevate your pies to a whole new level of deliciousness. Remember to start with quality ingredients, keep things cold, and handle the dough with care. Most importantly, embrace the imperfections along the way, because in the world of pies, every slice tells a scrumptious story. Happy baking! 

Pastry in a case ready to be cooked with cheery compote about to be poured in