Last Updated on November 3, 2014 by Jennifer Pallian BSc, RD
Making good pastry is a bit of a challenge. It’s not easy to make a lovely, flaky, tender crust that tastes amazing.
When I’m already cooking a full holiday meal, I don’t like to add the pressure of baking pie(s), but I don’t always have the time/energy/forethought to make them in advance. My typical pastry method involves giving the dough an overnight rest in the refrigerator, so this requires thinking way ahead of the game in order to bake pies one day prior.
Which is why I have a super easy, great-tasting press-in pastry recipe in my back pocket that I am sharing with you today. It is super quick, and eliminates the fuss of rolling out sticky dough and trying to shape and flute a crust. This super easy crust recipe makes it really easy to pop a pumpkin pie into the oven before the turkey, without any advance planning at all.
You simply cube some cold butter and cut it into a flour-salt mixture (a pastry cutter is ideal, but you can use a knife in either hand and slash it in) – the goal is to make split pea-sized lumps of butter that are dispersed throughout. I have fallen out of love with the food processor method – I find it is all to easy to make the butter chunks too small – the pie crust will still taste good, but won’t have a nice flaky-tender texture.
You see, the butter pieces melt in the dough and create layers (yielding flakiness) but they also create pockets of steam – the steam makes the dough rise a bit, giving it lift. If the butter pieces are too small, then you won’t get the same pockets of steam, and you’ll have a buttery, crunchy crust. Even if that happens for you, it’ll still be delicious, I promise, so don’t fret too much.
Another tip for sure success is to bake the pie in the bottom third of the oven, starting at high heat, and on top of a preheated baking stone or baking sheet. These tricks help ensure a nicely cooked, never soggy bottom.
This pie crust will be homey, and the pastry won’t come up over the rim of the pie plate. If you want to have fancy fluting, use a regular, roll-out crust.
UPDATE: See how it looks baked in a (super-easy) pumpkin pie here!
Super Easy Pie Crust: press-in butter pastry
- 1 cup flour
- ½ tsp kosher salt
- ½ cup butter cubed
- 5 tbsp ice water
- Whisk flour with salt in a large bowl. Use a pastry cutter to cut the butter into the flour mixture, until butter pieces are between the size of lentils and peas. Sprinkle ice water over top and use a fork to toss incorporate. Dump the shaggy mixture into a 9" pie plate and press it into a disc shape. Cover the pie plate with plastic wrap and refrigerate 30 minutes.
- With the plastic wrap still loosely covering the dough, use a flat-bottomed measuring cup or a glass to press the pastry into the pie plate, pressing from the middle of the dough outward, until the bottom and sides of dish are evenly covered. Use your fingers (still on top of the plastic wrap) to draw the pastry up the sides up a bit more. Remove the plastic wrap and freeze 10 minutes. Add filling and baking according to pie recipe.