Classic Single Pie Crust

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.

Prep
10 mins
Total
40 mins
Yield
single crust for an 8" to 10" pie
Classic Single Pie Crust

Instructions

  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. 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.

  7. 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.

  8. Roll the dough to the size needed (about 12" for a 9" pie). Place it in a pie pan, and refrigerate it while you prepare your filling. Fill and bake as directed in your recipe.

  9. Yield: one crust for a single-crust pie.

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.
  • 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.
  • You may want to bake the crust prior to filling ("blind bake"); this is typically done when the filling itself doesn't need to be baked (e.g., lemon meringue, chocolate cream). To bake an unfilled pie crust, preheat the oven to 400°F. Line the chilled crust with foil or parchment paper, and fill it with pie weights or dried beans. Bake the crust for 20 minutes. Remove it from the oven, and gently remove foil or parchment with the weights or beans. Return the crust to the oven for 10 to 20 more minutes, until it's golden brown all over. If the edges of the crust start becoming too brown, cover them with a pie shield, or strips of aluminum foil. Remove the crust from the oven and cool completely before adding the filling.
  • 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 (see details in our blog post: Pie, Any Way You Slice It.)