Making a Pie Pastry

I’ve never made pie pastry before. What should I know?

The first few times through, making pie pastry is going to seem awkward. As much as you may want to throw in the dishtowel and drive to the store for a frozen pie shell, just know this: it gets easier with time. Once you’ve tasted your first truly exquisite homemade pie crust, you’ll never want to go back to store-bought.

We make a lot of pie crusts from scratch at our test kitchens, and we’ve learned a lot about what works and what doesn’t. While we have a large section on our website full of tips for making the perfect pie crust at home, we’ve compiled a shortened list of must-have tips for the first timer. Clip them, print them, or stash them away on your phone’s notepad. At the very least, give these a good read through before embarking on your first pie crust adventure. You’ll be glad you did.

The butter, lard or shortening should be cold and cubed. When the recipe says this, don’t ignore it.

Use ice cold liquid. This helps keep the butter from melting too much as you mix.

Add the liquid gradually and add only enough to barely hold the dough together. Overmixing can lead to tough, hard pastry.

Measure ingredients carefully. Too much flour toughens the pastry.

Use a pastry cutter or two knives for cutting the fat into the flour.

Use cold ingredients and run your hands under cold water before working the dough.

Do not overwork the dough. It should be handled as little as possible. Again, overworking will yield a tough dough instead of a perfectly flaky pastry.

Chill the dough for at least 30 minutes before rolling it out.

Always roll the dough from the centre out, not back and forth. Roll out as lightly and as little as possible.

Gently lower the rolled out dough into the pie plate, being careful to avoid stretching the dough.

Baking in a glass pie plate is preferred. Glass pie plates give a golden colour crust. Shiny aluminum pie plates can create a soggy crust and dark pie pans can over bake the crust before the filling has thickened.

If the edge of the crust is browning too quickly during baking, cover the edge with strips of foil.

Before baking a double crust pie, cut steam vents in the top crust. Start with basic vents before indulging your inner pastry artist.