The Perfect Pie Crust

Baking | November 16, 2015 | By

I love pie.  All kinds. Fruit, Custard, Mincemeat, Chess, Pot, Tortiere… But they all have one thing in common.  The need for a crust.  The elusive, mindblowingly frustrating crust.  At least that’s how I always viewed it.  I tried recipe after recipe, and yet my crust either required a chisel to get through, or didn’t even make it to the pie plate- it would fall apart and refused to piece back together.  I thought there was something wrong with me, and that I was resigned to purchasing that pumpkin pie from the grocers. 

But anyone who knows me, knows I’m nothing if not tenacious.  Okay, the word most used by my family is butt stubborn. I’m like a dog with a bone.  So, I was’t going to let the pie crust have power or victory over me.  I realized it was really just a matter of making pie after pie, paying attention to what I was doing, the conditions of the day, etc, and monitoring the results.  After a while a pattern developed.  And I was thrilled to find out that it wasn’t just me.  As I watched cooking shows, and listened to the experts lament the odd mishap with their own pie crusts, then I realized I was in good company.  I mean, if they could have a crust tear, crumble while rolling out, then who was I to complain? Did you know the cracking at the edges happens when you let the rolling pin roll over past the dough?  Stop just short. And turn.

The recipe that I’ve been using for about 15 years now has never let me down.  Sure it has torn a couple of times.  Sure I’ve had to do a quick patch job in the dish.  But in the end it always bakes up flakey, tender and yummy.  I’m sure there are other magnificent pie dough recipes out there.  But I haven’t been inclined to try another.  This is my go-to, it never lets me down.  If I want it to be for a savoury pie, I omit the sugar and replace with salt and herbs.  Even cheese can replace some of the butter.

Pie Crust 1

Pie Crust 4

Pie Crust 3

The Perfect Pie Crust
Yields 1
A tender, flakey crust that never lets me down. This recipe makes 1 double crust or 2 single crust pies
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Prep Time
45 min
Prep Time
45 min
  1. 2 cups AP flour
  2. 3 tbsp sugar
  3. 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  4. 1/3 cup butter, unsalted, chilled and cubed
  5. 1/3 cup shortening, chilled and cubed
  6. 1 large egg
  7. 1 tbsp lemon juice
  8. 1/4 cup ice water
  1. Combine flour, sugar and salt. I use a food processor, feel free to do this by hand, using a large bowl and a whisk.
  2. Add the cubed butter and shortening and pulse until blended to a rough, crumbly texture. You still want to see pieces of butter. Or use a pastry blender or knife to achieve this.
  3. Whisk the egg, lemon juice and water in a small bowl.
  4. Add to flour mixture and blend just till the dough comes together into a rough ball. Don't worry about grabbing every little bit from the sides, you can add this to the ball you turn out onto the counter by hand.
  5. Shape the ball into two disks (one slightly larger than the other: about 1/3, 2/3) and wrap. Chill at least 30 minutes- 1 hour, or freeze till needed.
  6. Take out the larger disk and let return to room temperature. Don't roll a disk that is still cool, it will crack along the edges.
  7. Flouring your rolling pin, roll the disk out. Decrease pressure as you reach the edges. After each roll, spin the dough 1/4 turn. Keep flouring the surfaces to keep from sticking. Roll to 2-3 inches larger than the pie plate you are using (should be around 1/8" thick.
  8. Either roll the disk up around the rolling pin and release it over the pie plate; or fold it in half loosely and lay across the pie plate and then open it up. Allow the sides to fall just a little, so that there are no gaps between the dough and the pie plate. This will ensure that the dough will not pull up from the base, or shrink during baking. Trim it, allowing enough of an edge to work with the type of crimp you wish to use.
  9. Place the prepared pie shell back into the fridge to chill for about 15 minutes.
  10. From this point follow the directions for the pie recipe you are using.
  11. Repeat the above instructions for the smaller disk of dough. If using as a lid for a covered pie, roll to about 2 inches larger than the pie plate, allowing it to cover any raised filling. Or use to create lattice or cut outs (either with a cookie cutter or free hand)
  1. To make for a savoury pie, replace the sugar with 1/2 tsp salt, 1 tsp finely chopped fresh or dry herbs (except woody ones like rosemary)
  2. You can also add cheese to the recipe by removing 1 tbsp of the fat, and replacing it with 3 tbsp to 1/4 cup of shredded cheese.
The Lemon Apron
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  1. Leave a Reply

    November 28, 2015

    I’m not sure if I’m doubling up here. I posted a comment but it didn’t appear. I think in Oz, All Purpose is “plain” and yes, I’m pretty sure there’s a vegie shortening in supermarkets, will check it out.. Thanks, looking forward to trying again, Anne

    • Leave a Reply

      November 29, 2015

      Hi Anne, no worries- it’s just the way this back end is set up- all comments have to be approved before they show up at the front end šŸ™‚ Yep- good ole Plain flour! I would think you have veggie shortening. Pretty common. Is lard still in common use down your way?

  2. Leave a Reply

    November 28, 2015

    I think all purpose is called “plain” here. And yes, there’s this vegie shortening called “Copha” I think, will have to look it up. (Knowing me, it could be something else entirely which would not help my attempts! šŸ™‚ ) Anne

  3. Leave a Reply

    November 26, 2015

    After reading your blog on the perfect pie crust, I finally have the courage to try again! Thanks for the tips.

    • Leave a Reply

      November 26, 2015

      It always works for me. Don’t be discouraged if it cracks or tears a tad, nothing a good patch job in the pie plate can’t fix. Just make sure the counter is well floured, as your rolling pin, and that the dough is back at room temperature. It’s when it’s too cold still that most problems occur. Have fun!!

  4. Leave a Reply

    November 22, 2015

    Hi Jen – a couple of questions. What is “AP” flour – is it “Self Raising”? And when you say “shortening”, do you mean like lard? I had a go at a crust ages ago, and really want to try this one to get it right. Ta! Anne

    • Leave a Reply

      November 24, 2015

      Hi Anne, AP refers to All Purpose Flour. Shortening is usually vegetable shortening. Do you have this in Australia? Ta!!

  5. Leave a Reply

    May 25, 2016

    Oh thanks so much Amisha. I love chai! I think the first time I had it was like 20 years ago. It’s still one of may favourite flavour combos. Yes, do try the Ginger gelato, even if you are the only one eating it, is is AH-Ma-Zing!! And if not, then this is the exact same process, but with flavours maybe the whole family will love! Love Jen

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