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Piecrust redux

I was boasting of my piecrust in another thread. Pride goeth before a fall. The latest apple pie (the first pie I had baked in months) flirted with disaster. I used the Bittman piecrust recipe rather than the Joy of Cooking. I thought it was too much butter, but was willing to give it a try. The pie crust came together almost instantly, after perhaps two tablespoons of liquid (a tablespoon of tequila and perhaps a tablespoon from a dripping kitchen faucet), and was too soft to roll out easily. It disintegrated when I tried to transfer it to the pie plate. I ended up patting the bottom crust into place and dropping slabs of crust on top of the apple filling.

The Bittman recipe calls for making the pie crust in a food processor, which I do not have. I did my usual slow crumbling of the butter by hand, until I had a cornmeal-textured blend. I think that must have softened the butter more than it would have softened when cut up by processor blades. The Joy of Cooking recipe, which has a higher flour to butter ratio, works better for hand processing. It's not as buttery, but it is, as I remember, flakier.

The actual pie, while not photogenic, was delicious, The crust was crisp and buttery. Next time, however, I'm going to use the old tried-and-true Joy of Cooking recipe, which works for the tools that I have. Less difficult to roll out and assemble.

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  1. Did you refrigerated the dough before rolling it out? What were the proportions of butter to flour?

    2 Replies
    1. re: roxlet

      When I used the JoC recipe, I never refrigerated the pie crust. It was just put it together fast, roll it out, pie!

      Of course, I was starting with cold butter and flour that had been stored in the freezer.

      1. re: roxlet

        Oh, butter to flour. Bittman, 2 cups, 4 tablespoons flour to 1 cup butter. JoC, 2 cups flour to 2/3 cup butter. A lot less butter.

      2. Melted Butter & Oil Pie Crust

        Here's a recipe that was mentioned on the King Arthur Flour forum as being easy and good tasting. I want to try this one soon.

        1. Don't use your hands, you can get a pastry cutter for $5 or so. Or you can use two butter knives. Your hands will warm up the butter too much. If the kitchen is too warm, I will stick the bowl into the fridge before the dough is pea sized just to firm it back up. Keeping the butter cold in summer can be tricky.

          1 Reply
          1. re: Pookipichu

            I probably should get a pastry cutter. Hands have worked in the past, but it's HOT here in Honolulu of late.

          2. Freeze the butter. Using the large holes of a box grater, grate it into the flour and toss with a fork or a pastry cutter until well-coated before adding liquid.

            1 Reply
            1. Anyway, it takes a grandiose helping of hubris to claim that you can instruct (anyone) on "How To Cook Everything"; maybe it's just a screwed-up recipe.

              1 Reply
              1. re: pmarie1

                There are a great many Bittman recipes that I find just MEH. I have always chalked that up to differing tastes. The one cookbook author who always pleases me is Madhur Jaffrey.

              2. Cooks Illustrated Vodka crust works incredibly well. I'm sure you can find it on this board. I've used this every year for my pumpkin-marscapone pie on Turkey Day.

                Here's a link:


                1 Reply
                1. re: hankstramm

                  Yes, a bit of hard liquor does improve the crust. I've been using tequila, which is all I have at the moment. Vodka or brandy would work too.

                2. I use Nick Malgieri's recipe for an all butter crust, it adds a bit of baking powder which helps make the crust flaky. I use my food processor.

                  1. I follow reciepes, somewhat. If it's too soft, I'll refrigerate, if it's too wet, I add more flour, if it's too dry, I add more water. I find that the humidity level of the place as well as elevation, can change things. I go by look and feel.