I love the part in Mary Poppins where the titular heroine describes pie-crust promises as “easily made, easily broken.” Of course, the metaphor is not lost on me: though I love to make pie, and though pie crust is fairly simple in theory—needing at its most basic no more than three ingredients (flour, fat, and a liquid to bind)—rolling out the dough and finishing the darn thing can be a daunting prospect for even the most seasoned (and in my case salty) of bakers.
I use the following recipe in my pies for a few reasons. First and foremost is butter; one should really not start a venture called Buttertooth if they plan to use shortening in their pie crusts. The lumps of butter in this dough will not only taste great in the finished product (pie-duct? somebody stop me), but, if executed properly, will also create a flaky texture that even my grandma would approve of. And that woman knew pie.
Next, I use a little vinegar in my fluid because the acid inhibits gluten production and makes for a tender crust. Don’t worry: you won’t taste it in the pie, but just knowing it’s there is a balm to my soul (tender hearts, tender pies). And the best part is—the acid helps the crust keep its shape, so it’s easier to roll and won’t muddle together in the oven after all your hard crimping.
Finally, this recipe is versatile. I’ve used it in savory quiches, fruit pies, galettes, pot pies, you name it. OK. I guess it isn’t so versatile in that it only works when a recipe calls for pie crust, not, say, oregano, but you know what I’m getting at here. This is the crust for me. And maybe you too. And maybe U2. I hear Bono loves pie. Try it, won’t you?
- 2 ½ cups flour
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- ¾ teaspoon table salt
- 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, cold and diced coarsely
- 1 ½ teaspoon apple cider vinegar
- ½ cup ice cold water
- In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, & salt.
- Using your fingers or a pastry cutter, incorporate chunks of butter into flour mixture until lumps of butter are coated and pea-sized (some may be larger, some smaller, & that’s fine).
- In a small bowl, combine ice water & vinegar.
- Create a well in butter & flour mixture then add water+vinegar. Use a fork to bring dough together (this can also be accomplished in a food processor, but do not overmix).
- Turn dough out onto lightly floured work surface. Divide into two discs & wrap each in plastic.
- Refrigerate at least 1 hour before using.