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All-Butter Piecrust

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Yields one 9-inch piecrust.

A butter crust can be just as flaky as one made with lard if you make it by hand, rubbing cold chunks of butter into the flour. This creates flakes of butter, rather than lumps, that remain in the dough when you roll it. As the crust bakes, the butter melts, creating steam pockets that leave behind a flaky texture. For filling ideas, check out our Jamaican-Spiced Pumpkin Pie, Coffee-Toffee Pecan Pie, Cranberry-Apple Streusel Pie, and Fresh Pear Pie with Dried Cherries.

  • 6 oz. (1-1/2 cups) unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. granulated sugar
  • 3/8 tsp. table salt
  • 4 oz. (8 Tbs.) cold unsalted butter, preferably European style, cut into 3/4-inch pieces
  • 3 to 4 Tbs. ice water
Make the dough

Put the flour, sugar, and salt in a medium bowl and stir with a rubber spatula or a fork to combine. Add the butter to the bowl. Rub the cold chunks of butter between your fingertips, smearing the butter into the flour to create small (roughly 1/4-inch) flakes of fat.

Drizzle 3 Tbs. ice water over the flour mixture. Stir with the spatula or fork, adding 1 Tbs. more water if necessary, until the mixture forms a shaggy dough that’s moist enough to hold together when pressed between your fingers.

With well-floured hands, gently gather and press the dough together, and then form it into a disk with smooth edges. Wrap the dough in plastic and chill for at least 1 hour, but preferably 2 to 4 hours, before rolling.

Roll the dough

Let the chilled dough sit at room temperature to soften slightly—it should be cold and firm but not rock hard. Depending on how long the dough was chilled, this could take 5 to 20 minutes. When ready to roll, lightly flour the countertop or other surface (a pastry cloth, silicone rolling mat, or parchment on a counter also works great) and position the rolling pin in the center of the dough disk. Roll away from you toward 12 o’clock, easing the pressure as you near the edge to keep the edge from becoming too thin. Return to the center and roll toward 6 o’clock. Repeat toward 3 and then 9 o’clock, always easing the pressure at the edges and picking up the pin rather than rolling it back to the center.

Continue to “roll around the clock,” aiming for different “times” on each pass until the dough is 13 to 14 inches in diameter and about 1/8 inch thick. Try to use as few passes of the rolling pin as possible. After every few passes, check that the dough isn’t sticking by lifting it with a bench knife (dough scraper). Reflour only as needed—excess flour makes a drier, tougher crust. Each time you lift the dough, give it a quarter turn to help even out the thickness.

Line the pie plate

Gently transfer the dough to a 9-inch pie plate, preferably metal, by folding it in half and unfolding it into the plate. Do not stretch the dough as you line the pan, or it will spring back when baked. Gently lift the outer edges of the dough to give you enough slack to line the sides of the pan without stretching the dough.

Trim the overhanging dough to 1 inch from the edge of the pan. Roll the dough under itself into a cylinder that rests on the edge of the pan.

Crimp the edge

To crimp the edge, have one hand on the inside of the edge, and one hand on the outside, and use the index finger of the inside hand to push the dough between the thumb and index finger of the outside hand to form a U or V shape. Repeat around the edge of the pie plate, creating a crimped edge whose individual flutes are about an inch apart. As you are going along, if you notice that the edge is not perfectly symmetrical and that the amount of dough you’ll have to crimp seems sparse in places, take a bit of trimmed scrap, wet it with a drop or two of water, and attach it to the sparse area by pressing it firmly into place.

Prick the sides and bottom of the crust all over with a fork. Refrigerate until firm, about 1 hour or overnight. This will relax the dough and help prevent the edges from caving in.

Blind bake the crust

Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 425°F. Line the chilled piecrust with foil and fill it with dried beans or pie weights. Bake for 15 minutes; remove the foil and the beans or weights. Reduce the oven temperature to 375°F.

Bake until the bottom looks dry but is not quite done and the edges are light golden, 5 to 7 minutes more. Let cool on a rack while you prepare the filling.

Make Ahead Tips

This pie dough can be made ahead and refrigerated overnight or frozen (before or after rolling) for up to 3 months. Simply transfer the dough to the refrigerator the night before you plan to make pie, and it’ll be ready to go.

Photo: Scott Phillips

I'm a pie crust novice, and my first attempt at the All-Butter Piecrust resulted in a crust that was pretty but a bit tough. My second piecrust was terrific! The hint to use the feel of the dough rather than the appearance was the key to success.

What an incredible pie crust. I make a lot of pecan pie during the holidays and this was the first crust I've ever made that actually held up to the runny filling and didn't turn to mush. If you taste the crust by itself it tastes like a butter cookie. Delicious

This was the first pie crust I ever made and it was wonderful. I have made this crust three times since and every time it turns out perfect.

This is the first time I've been able to achieve a really satisfactory pie crust.

I had a terrible time rolling out this pie crust. It keep sticking and shrinking every time I removed it from the surface. Added a small amount of flour to rolling pin and the counter and same thing. Then it shrank again after I baked it with the filling. I followed the instructions perfectly. I wound up purchasing a frozen pie crust after all that for my second pie.

My first piecrust, flakey and yummy. I don't think I'll bother learning another, since generally, except for the galette dough (from the rustic tarts article), there are almost no crusts whose taste is as good as their appearance

follow exactly what the recipe says and this is really the most perfect pie crust ever. It stays crisp, even with a runny filling and has a lovely taste.

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