Classic Single Pie Crust

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Recipe photo
Hands-on time:
Total time:
Yield: single crust for an 8" to 10" pie

Recipe photo

We figure we can't repeat too often our formula for the flakiest, most tender pie crust — so here it is. The following formula is perfect for a single-crust, 8" to 10" pie.

This recipe, formerly called Our Favorite Pie Crust, has been simplified to use fewer ingredients, for a more traditional end product. See "tips," below, for the optional ingredients the recipe previously called for.

Classic Single Pie Crust

star rating (43) rate this recipe »
Hands-on time:
Total time:
Yield: single crust for an 8" to 10" pie
Published: 10/25/2013

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups Perfect Pastry Blend or King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
  • 1/2 teaspon salt
  • 4 tablespoons shortening
  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 3 to 5 tablespoons ice water

Tips from our bakers

  • You may be comparing this recipe with our Classic Double Pie Crust, and wondering why it's not exactly half the size of that recipe. Think about it; can you guess? A single-crust recipe is made assuming it will be used as the bottom crust of a pie; and the bottom crust, usually rolled to a diameter of 12" or so, requires more pastry than a top crust, usually rolled 9" to 10" diameter. Thus this recipe is slightly more than half the size of a typical double-crust recipe.
  • Water tends to reduce crust's flakiness and tenderness; so the less water you use, the better. Keep that in mind as you're gradually adding enough water to bring the pastry together; using a water bottle to moisten dry areas of the pastry is a good way to keep your water usage down.
  • If desired, add any or all of the following to the pastry: 1 tablespoon buttermilk powder; 1/4 teaspoon baking powder; 1 teaspoon vinegar. We've made the crust both with these optional ingredients, and without. Each changes the crust subtly: baking powder adds "poof;" buttermilk powder helps browning and tenderness, and adds a bit of flavor; and vinegar tenderizes it slightly. However, for the very flakiest crust, we omit these optional ingredients.

Directions

1) Whisk together the flour and salt.

2) Add the shortening, working it in until the mixture is evenly crumbly.

3) Add the butter to the flour mixture, and work it in roughly with your fingers, a pastry cutter, or a mixer. Don't be too thorough; the mixture should be very uneven, with big chunks of butter in among the smaller ones.

4) Add 2 tablespoons of water, and toss to combine.

5) Toss with enough additional water to make a chunky mixture. It should barely hold together when you squeeze a handful, though the remainder may look quite dry.

6) Scoop the mixture out onto a piece of parchment or waxed paper, and flatten it out a bit. Take a spray bottle of water, and spritz the dry parts with the water.

7) Using the parchment or waxed paper, fold the dough over on itself — first from one side, then from the other. You'll find that the dry crumbs are becoming incorporated with the cohesive dough. If there are still dry areas, spritz them with additional water, and fold the dough in on itself again. Keep folding and gathering until just a few dry crumbs remain unincorporated; this should only take a few folds. For a visual demonstration of this technique, see Pie, Any Way You Slice It.

8) Shape the dough into a disk about 1" thick, and refrigerate it for 30 minutes or longer; this resting period allows the flour to absorb the water, making the dough easier to roll out.

9) When you're "ready to roll," remove the dough from the fridge. If the dough has been refrigerated longer than 30 minutes, let it rest at room temperature for 10 to 15 minutes before rolling, to allow the butter to soften up a bit.

10) Roll the dough to the size needed (about 12" for a 9" pie). Fill and bake as directed in your recipe.

Yield: one crust for a single-crust pie.

Nutrition information

Serving Size: 1 (45g) Servings Per Batch: 8 Amount Per Serving: Calories: 200 Calories from Fat: 120 Total Fat: 14g Saturated Fat: 6g Trans Fat: 0g Cholesterol: 20mg Sodium: 150mg Total Carbohydrate: 17g Dietary Fiber: 1g Sugars: 0g Protein: 3g

* The nutrition information provided for this recipe is determined by the ESHA Genesis R&D software program. Substituting any ingredients may change the posted nutrition information.

Reviews

1 2345  All  
  • star rating 04/25/2015
  • jessicapaul from KAF Community
  • Amazing! I have been trying to make pie crusts like my mother and this recipe and technique is actually better than hers. She uses all shortening, vinegar in the water, and has an amazing ability to create the most beautiful and tender pie crusts. This recipe and technique is more flavorful (I didn't use the vinegar but will next time to see the difference) than I ever could've imagined. The preparation was a breeze thanks to the photos and commentary in the blog. I'm not sure about rolling out the crust between parchment and plastic, though. I found that even with my hip securing the parchment in place, I didn't have the room I needed to roll it out. I'll have to try a larger sheet of parchment next time and place the dough a bit further from me when I roll it. Thanks for posting the recipe, KAF! I absolutely love your site and am an avid follower of KAF.
  • star rating 01/25/2015
  • Joyce from 75150
  • Why couldn't you have told at what temperature to bake a single no filling pie crust?
    Hi Joyce, we don't include the baking temperature with the pie crust recipes because the baking instructions will vary, depending on the pie recipe you are making. Barb@KAF
  • star rating 01/18/2015
  • from
  • a perfect crust
  • star rating 01/10/2015
  • kingarthurflourcom310 from KAF Community
  • Second attempt at this was just as bad as the first. Then I found the problem; the single classic is a different formula than the double classic. The single is 26% shortening, the double is only 15.5%, and this seems to make all the difference. The 26% quickly turns the flour into a greasy paste. Forget the water, the flour will come together, appear moist, and hold it's shape, with the fat alone. The double increases the butter by nearly 8%, which overall results in a decrease in it's fat of almost 3%. After the second failure with the single classic (which I used for the lattice top) I made the bottom from the double classic formula, scaled down, and I think that it behaved as it should. It's not like there aren't photos and a video on every step of making these crusts. Most of them say they were done using the double formula, and using the double formula I can get the same results, step by step, but the single formula, as it's written now, will not behave like the demonstrations.
    Thanks so much for your thoughtful comments. You are correct that the formulas are different for the two recipes, and won't behave exactly the same. However, both recipes are very popular and we want to continue offering both options. Thank you for the clarification. Barb@KAF
  • star rating 01/08/2015
  • kingarthurflourcom310 from KAF Community
  • It was absolutely awful. First of all, it seemed too wet with just the base amount of water before even spritzing it. Was just a fatty, gloppy, mess... no dry crumbling going on. I don't know if it makes a difference but I always use bakers percentages and work in weights, so I used the "gram" measures for the ingredients. Maybe the gram units are not correct? Another problem I believe is the yield. What exactly does 8" to 10" mean? That's a pretty big difference. I was using a 9.5" pie dish that is 125% of the surface area of my regular 9" dishes, and there was barely enough dough to reach the rim. There really should be more information in the recipe so that we know how to scale it for a given plate. I'm about to try again, this time scaling up 125%, and cutting back on water until I know it's needed and we'll see how it goes. Not holding my breath...
    I'm sorry this recipe did not work for you. The kind of flour you use can have a big impact on the amount of water the dough will absorb. I'm guessing you used a lower protein flour, which did not absorb as much water. I checked the gram measurements and they seem to be correct. We'd be very happy to troubleshoot this recipe with you at the Baker's Hotline: 855-371-2253. Barb@KAF
  • star rating 12/27/2014
  • Gina from Brougham, NH
  • Even though I followed the recipe slavishly, this was an unmitigated disaster. Tough as a board, stuck to everything, broke into pieces when I tried to roll it out--I finally just threw it away and baked the filling as a custard. On the plus side, however, this was the straw that broke the camel's back as far as trying to cook is concerned. Finally I am liberated from that nightmare and have happily given myself permission to NOT cook. Supermarket hot bar, here I come! Yay!
    I'm sorry this recipe did not meet your expectations and you have sworn off cooking completely as a result! If you should ever reconsider your cooking ban, we are always happy to help you troubleshoot recipes at the Baker's Hotline: 855-371-2253. Barb@KAF
  • star rating 12/23/2014
  • Elizabeth from Austin, TX
  • This is the clearest the internet gets on the subject of piecrusts, so congratulations and thanks. I have done this recipe successfully when, not having read carefully, I tossed the water with the dough in the bowl until all was moist. I tried the awkward squeezing-with-parchment method last night and really struggled with the resulting dough. I think the emphasis on adding as little water as possible should be jettisoned. I ended up with a lot of cracks in the dough and had to roll it out three times, with rests in between - very tedious. I feel all the extra handling more than offset whatever was gained with minimal moisture. Next time I will add liquid until I have a nice, crack-free ball of playdough.
  • star rating 12/14/2014
  • Katy from Mont Vernon, NH
  • I absolutely love this recipe! It is the best crust that I have ever eaten. I made it for Thanksgiving for a Pecan Pie (I used the no Corn Syrup recipe on this website). It was the best Pecan Pie ever and I consider myself an expert on them. I am 57 but have never made a pie crust from scratch other than with my Grandmother when I was 6 years old. However, I am in a quandary - can I use Lard instead of shortening? I have someone in my family allergic to Soy (which is contained in Crisco). Any thoughts on changes that would need to be made? Thanks, Kate
    I think you would be fine substituting lard for the shortening. Barb@KAF
  • star rating 11/25/2014
  • Elizabeth Alfree from Lincoln University, PA
  • Shortening makes it one star. Shortening does contribute to the flakiness, but feel free to substitute all butter for flavor. Happy baking! Laurie@KAF
  • star rating 05/27/2014
  • yarngrandma from KAF Community
  • Maybe I never followed directions before, but this time I did and the crust was excellent. In fact, my husband who has trouble swallowing everything even ate the crust first, and all of it. That has not happened in MANY years.
1 2345  All  
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