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Feb 28, 2009 08:47 AM

Making pie dough w/out a food processor (or only w/a very small one)

Folks, I've had a real urge to make a pie, with a traditional crust - not graham cracker, or oreo, etc., although I like those too. I've just been really wanting to try some of the recipes I have for fruit pies, nut pies. etc - but for all of them, they say to make the pie crust in a cuisinart/food processor.

this is a problem, as ours is really little - 2 cups I believe.

we've got a blender, we've got a stand mixer, we've got an immersion blender. we've even got pretty strong hands.

what are our options?


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  1. Go buy a $2.50 pastry blender or use two knives or a couple of forks.

    Just break it up. It will work. I just made these dynamite biscuits and dragged my pastry blender out of the drawer and it was great. Really. Just make it like coarse corn meal. And I have heard of breaking the flour/shortening up with you fingers.

    Your grandmother probably didn't have a processor, did she?

    1. Use a pastry cutter. Images here. They are cheap and easy to find.
      The first two pix.

      2 Replies
      1. re: billieboy

        Second on the pasty cutter (or third if a pastry blender is the same thing). It works, is inexpensive and takes up no space.

        1. re: alwayscooking

          Thirds, I have a food processor, but use the pastry blender, cutter each time. Easy quick and effective and makes good pastry.

      2. Thanks to all for the pastry cutter recs.
        I"m going to give this a try.

        1. I have made great pie doughs using nothing more than my fingertips. The trick is to work quickly and to use only the tips of your fingers, not the palms, so the butter remains as cold as possible.

          1. IMO, the stand mixer with the paddle attachment is the way to go with pie dough b/c your fingers won't warm the fat. Just cut very well-chilled fat into relatively small chunks (1/2 in.), add it to your flour/salt and turn the mixer on medium until the fat is in about pea sized lumps, then add your ice water and continue to mix until it just comes together. This is Julia Child's method and it works perfectly-- if you have her recipe (MTOFC Vol. II) check it out! I live and die by that pie crust...

            2 Replies
            1. re: Procrastibaker

              This was the method I was surprised to find in Sherry Yard's The Secrets of Baking. I usually make my pie dough with either a pastry cutter or a food processor, but I am planning on trying this method when I make pie next. She calles it "laminated" dough, I believe.

              1. re: roxlet

                Any way you make pie crust it's a laminated dough; others include puff paste and croissants. The term covers doughs where butter is worked into flour and held in suspended bits or sheets so it melts upon baking and creates those steamy air pockets that create flakiness.

                I don't trust my fingers not to warm the butter, so to do it manually, I use a pastry blender if it's available, or two knives.