Make the Perfect Pie Crust


by New Day Producers

Posted on December 22, 2011 at 2:19 PM

Whether your favorite pie is apple, pecan or pumpkin, they all need a great crust. Barbara Schwartz is a master baker who teaches pie making at PCC and in her home! Her pies are featured at Saint Cloud's Restaurant in Madrona so we invited her to our studio to help teach us how to make the 'perfect' pie crust!

1.  Work cold, work fast
            You have to keep the butter in the crust as cold as possible, so I keep it in the frig until the last possible moment, then work it into the flour quickly, and add very cold water to bring it all together.  
 2.  Less is more
            Most people overwork their piecrust dough.  I teach students to not over mix the butter and flour; keep the butter in pieces that are about pea-size.  Any smaller and it won't promote a flaky crust.  Don't add too much water, or it will ruin the dough.  Don't overwork the dough once the water is in, or it will make the dough touch.......hence the phrase, "less is more".
 3.  Start round, keep it round.
            Many people have difficult rolling out the dough into a round shape.  I stress the importance of having a round disk of dough to start.  Then I have people keep it round by rolling the dough out with an eye on keeping the circular shape as they go.  Rolling out the dough in a clockwise fashion helps.  So does rolling around the circumference of the dough, riding the edge of the piecrust.
 4.  Dough has memory
            Stretching the dough can cause piecrust to sag into the pie plate as it cooks.  That's because dough has memory (the gluten strands will stretch when you pull the dough, but they'll recoil and shrink back as they cook.)  I teach students to ease a piecrust into a pie plate gently without pushing or stretching it into the shape of the plate.  
Take a class with Barbara scheduled through December and January. Find out more at:

Barbara’s Pie Crust


2 ½ C. all-purpose flour

½ lb. unsalted butter (2 sticks)

1 tsp. sugar

1 tsp. salt

~3 ounces cold water


Mix together the flour, salt and sugar in the cuisinart.  Dice the butter into ~ ½ inch cubes.  Add to the cuisinart and pulse 5 times (each pulse about 1-2 seconds) until the mixture has pea-sized globules of butter still visible in the flour.  Add the water a little at a time through the feed tube while quickly pulsing the flour mixture to evenly distribute the water.  Stop and check the consistency of the mixture with your fingers before you’ve added the entire 3 ounces of water.  If the dough sticks to itself but not to your hand, it’s ready.  If not, add a little bit more.    Do not add more water than necessary and do not over mix!


Dump out the mixture onto plastic wrap.  Bring together into a ball.  Cut the ball in half and form two separate discs in plastic wrap.  Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes and up to 24 hours.  Roll out or freeze dough for up to one month.