Excerpted from our Making Dough cookbook by Russell van Kraayenburg.
YIELD: 1 pound | PREP TIME: 2 hours | BAKE TIME: varies
6 ounces bread flour
2 ounces cake flour
1 teaspoon salt
7 ounces (14 tablespoons) unsalted butter, cold
¼ cup water
Mixing the Dough
There are two ways to mix pie dough: by hand or using a food processor.
1. Mix flours and salt in a large bowl. Chop butter into 1/2-inch chunks and add to flour mixture. Pinch or cut butter into flour using your fingers or a pastry cutter, breaking it into pieces about the size of large peas. If using your hands, work quickly to keep butter from melting.
2. Pour water into flour mixture. Mix dough with your hands or about 10 to 15 turns of a wooden spoon, until it just starts to come together. The dough will be very tough and should remain in a few large chunks.
3. Place dough on a lightly floured surface and push chunks together. Knead 4 to 5 times, just until it holds together. Flatten dough into a disk about 1 inch thick. Wrap tightly in parchment paper and let rest in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour.
Food Processor Method
1. Pulse flours and salt in the bowl of a food processor 2 or 3 times to combine. Chop butter into 1/2-inch cubes and add to flour mixture. Pulse for 1 second about 8 times, until butter is in pieces about the size of large peas. Add water and pulse 3 to 4 times, until dough begins to come together. It may remain in a few large chunks.
2. Place dough on a lightly floured surface and push chunks together. Knead 4 to 5 times, until it holds its shape. Flatten dough into a disk about 1 inch thick. Wrap tightly in parchment paper and let rest in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour.
This pie dough uses a 3:1 ratio of bread flour to cake flour. The large amount of bread flour results in a relatively high protein content, which helps create a flakier, crisper crust. You may also use all bread flour or all all-purpose flour.
Because pie dough contains no chemical leavener, it stores well wrapped tightly in parchment paper. You can easily double, triple, or even quadruple this dough recipe and store enough for a month’s worth of pies. If you know the shape of the dough you plan to roll later, form it into that shape, about 1 inch thick, before storing to make rolling it later easier. Refrigerator: 4 days. Freezer: 4 months.
Qualities of Good Pie Dough
THE DOUGH: Pie dough should be fairly dry and tough to manipulate. You should see dots of butter throughout the dough. When rolling, the dough should hold together well and not tear or break.
THE PASTRY: Once baked, pie crust should be very flaky. Crust that isn’t in contact with filling should crumble and flake easily. Portions touching filling will be slightly less flaky but should still be dry and crisp.