The Washington Post

All-Butter Pie Crust

All-Butter Pie Crust 8.000

Mark Weinberg for The Washington Post; food styling by Erin Jeanne McDowell

Nov 18, 2020

Pie dough requires only a few ingredients, but how you handle them determines the final texture. Cookbook author Erin Jeanne McDowell likes a mealy crust (tighter crumb structure) for custard- and cream-filled pies, and a flaky crust for fruit fillings. This recipe can be doubled for a double-crust pie, or to use for other decorative effects, such as painted cutouts (see related recipe).

Make Ahead: The dough needs to be refrigerated for at least 30 minutes and up to 2 days before use.

Storage Notes: The dough can be tightly wrapped and refrigerated for up to 2 days; bring to room temperature before using. To freeze, wrap the dough in a layer of plastic wrap, then a layer of aluminum foil, and freeze for up to 3 months; defrost to room temperature before using.


When you scale a recipe, keep in mind that cooking times and temperatures, pan sizes and seasonings may be affected, so adjust accordingly. Also, amounts listed in the directions will not reflect the changes made to ingredient amounts.

Tested size: 8 servings; makes one 9-inch pie crust

  • 1 1/4 cups (156 grams) all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 8 tablespoons (113 grams/1 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch (13-millimeter) cubes
  • 1/4 cup (60 milliliters/57 grams) ice water, plus more as needed

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In a large bowl, whisk together the flour and salt. Add the butter, tossing the cubes through the flour until each individual piece is well coated. “Cut” the butter into the flour by pressing the pieces between your fingers, flattening the cubes into big shards. As you work, continue to toss the butter through the flour, recoating the shingled pieces.

For a flaky crust: Continue to cut the butter into the flour just until the pieces of butter are about the size of walnut halves.

For a mealy crust: Continue to work the mixture together until the pieces of butter are about the size of peas.

Make a well in the center of the flour mixture. Add the ice water to the well and, using a tossing motion with your hands, start to mix the two together (this begins to combine the ingredients without creating too much gluten). As the flour begins to become hydrated, you can start to use more of a kneading motion — but don’t overdo it, as this will make the dough tough. Add more water as needed, about 1 tablespoon at a time, until the dough is properly hydrated. The dough should be uniformly combined and hold together easily, but it won’t look totally smooth. (Pie dough that is too dry may have sort of a “dusty” appearance, or pockets of un-hydrated flour. It will not hold together and will appear crumbly. Pie dough that is too wet will feel sticky or tacky to the touch, and is often smoother and/or lighter in color.)

Form the dough into an even disk (or into another shape if directed by the recipe; if you are scaling the recipe to make multiple crusts, divide the dough appropriately). Wrap tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes and up to 2 days.

Roll out the dough: Lightly dust a work surface with flour, and lightly dust a rolling pin, if desired. Roll out the dough to about 1/4-inch thickness, about 12 inches in diameter, rotating it as you work to prevent it from sticking. To transfer the dough to the pan, gently roll it up around the pin, then unfurl it into a 9-inch pie plate.

Prepare the edge for crimping: For a single-crust pie, using scissors, trim away the excess dough, leaving about 1/2-inch overhang around the outside edge of the pie plate. Tuck the overhang under, pressing gently to make it flush with the edge of the pie plate and crimp as you like.

The crust is now ready to be filled and baked or par-/blind-baked before being filled. Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 425 degrees.

For a double-crust pie, fill the prepared crust, then roll the top crust out over it and gently press the top and bottom crusts together where they meet at the edge to flatten the dough slightly, then trim the excess and tuck the overhang under as directed for a single-crust pie. You can use a paring knife to cut vents into the top crust. Note: Double crust pies typically don't require par baking due to the longer bake time required to properly bake the thicker pie.

To par-bake the dough: Using a fork, dock the crimped single-crust pie and chill well, at least 30 minutes. Cut a square of parchment paper slightly larger than the diameter of a pie plate, and press it into the base of the pie plate. Fill with pie weights to the top inner rim of the pie plate. Bake for 15 to 17 minutes, or until the edges begin to lightly brown. Remove the parchment paper and pie weights, and bake for 2 to 3 minutes more, or until the bottom of the crust appears dry and set. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool completely before filling.

To blind-bake the dough: Follow the instructions for par-baking, but after removing the pie weights, bake for an additional 5 to 7 minutes, or until the crust is fully golden brown. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool completely before filling.

To use with fruit filling(s): Par-bake the pie crust following the instructions above. Lower the oven temperature to 400 degrees. Pour the cooled fruit filling into the cooled par-baked crust and bake for about 35 minutes, or until the filling appears a bit matte on the surface. If needed, cover the crust edges with foil to prevent over-browning.

To use with pudding filling(s): Blind-bake the crust before filling. Cool completely before adding the pudding to the crust.

Variation: For Chocolate Pie Dough, replace 1/4 cup (30 grams) of the all-purpose flour with 1/3 cup (28 grams) unsweetened cocoa powder (any kind, but dark or black cocoa powder makes particularly intense crusts). Take care not to overbake this crust – look for a dry, matte appearance all over as an indicator.

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Recipe Source

Adapted from "The Book on Pie" by Erin Jeanne McDowell (Rux Martin/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2020).

Tested by G. Daniela Galarza.

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Nutritional Facts

Calories per serving: 171

% Daily Values*

Total Fat: 11g 17%

Saturated Fat: 7g 35%

Cholesterol: 30mg 10%

Sodium: 74mg 3%

Total Carbohydrates: 15g 5%

Dietary Fiber: 1g 4%

Sugar: 0g

Protein: 2g

*Percent Daily Value based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

Total Fat: Less than 65g

Saturated Fat: Less than 20g

Cholesterol: Less than 300mg

Sodium: Less than 2,400mg

Total Carbohydrates: 300g

Dietary Fiber: 25g

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