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May 6, 2008 06:53 AM

Pie crust solution

Pies are one of my specialties, and I am frequently asked by friends to teach them to make pie crust, something that seems to give a lot of people fits. I have made pie crust many ways (including in the food processor per Julia Child's method in The Way To Cook), but I usually find myself with a pastry cutter and a bowl instead since I'm usually too lazy to drag out the food processor. The hardest part of making pie dough (in my opinion) is adding the ice water. It is hard to sprinkle it evenly and I find that most people just want to dump it in. Adding the right amount of water is crucial to being able to roll out the crust after it's rested, and I finally arrived at a great solution. On the Vermont Country Store web site they sell old-fashioned laundry sprinkler bottles. Fill one with required amount of ice water, and sprinkle as you move the dough around the bowl. The water is much more evenly distributed throughout by using this method...

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  1. Thank you roxlet these are the little tips that help non-bakers like me become better.
    After many, many failed attempts, I just got the hang of making a non yeast biscuit (for biscuits and gravy) that is fluffy and light. I have been trying to perfect making these things for it seems like forever! Lets put it this way, I was taking the "don't over handle your dough" way way to literally, as I slap myself in the head!

    Pie dough is another one I really want to do. I can make pate brisee, but good old great pie dough is a toughy!
    Thanks for sharing! (I'll check out the site!)

    2 Replies
    1. re: chef chicklet

      You're welcome, and may I also suggest the book titled "Pie" by Ken Haedrich. It has a great basic butter & shortening crust recipe (among others), and an almost endless collection of great recipes. Good luck!

      1. re: roxlet

        Great thanks I'll look for that book. I wanted to add before I forget, that you are so right about people like me and dumping the water in, I have been doing that exactly along with taking the recipe soooo literally and not knowing my dough.

    2. I've always--following Alton Brown's lead--just used a spray bottle. You never know just how much water to use, so I'll just spritz and squeeze until it's close, then stick it in the fridge. If it needs a little more when rolling out, give it a few more squirts, and you're good to go. Crusts have been perfect every time since I started doing this. Before that, it was hit-or-miss (mostly miss).

      2 Replies
      1. re: uncleozzy

        I guess that Alton Brown and I are thinking alike on this -- both are used for dampening laundry! I will try that one as well, though the laundry sprinkler works really well for me and I don't usually have a problem with rolling out the dough, but I'll certainly keep it in mind if I do!

        1. re: uncleozzy

          Me, too. I love Alton Brown. Spritz bottle works great!!

        2. A sprinkler bottle - brilliant!

          1. Thomas Keller has a tip in "Bouchon" for pate brisee which worked for me. You mix half of the flour with all of the butter in the food processor to get a paste. Then you cut that into the rest of the flour. By coating the butter first you make it easier to maintain the little pea-sized flour/butter globules that appear to be important in making a flaky crust. Although this is an improvement I have yet to achieve pie crust perfection. The best crust I have ever tasted used lard, which I will not use myself, so I always let myself off the hook for not achieving perfect crust!!

            4 Replies
              1. re: jono37

                I use lard for something called Casadetti, which is an Italian fried pastry (think cannoli ravioli), but I find that commercial lard is just not that delicious. I've been considering getting some pork fat from a producer of hormone free pigs and making my own...

                1. re: jono37

                  Ditto for the lard. Don't buy the lard at the regular grocery. I get my lard at a local Mexican grocery. Much better than the lard at the regular grocery.

                  1. re: corabeth

                    I just got some leaf lard from a farm in the mid-west. Let the baking begin!

                2. Thanks for your tips!

                  I also want to thank you for mentioning the laundry sprinkler bottle. My mom has a Coca Cola bottle with the sprinkler on top. I remember her using it for lots of different things and have wondered for years what it was called. I've never seen one any place else. Reading your posts, it clicked and sure enough when I did a search that's what she has.