The secret to a great pie? The crust. Emily Vikre, blogger at Five and Spice, shares these tips for a flaky pie crust.
1) When it comes to your fat choices (shortening, lard, butter), use butter - it gives you the best flavor.
2) Keep everything cold! Emily even keeps her dry ingredients in the fridge.
3) You need bigger lumps of fat than you might think. You're looking for pea-sized pieces.
4) If your dough starts to get sticky, stop working with it and stick it back in the fridge. Wax paper can also help.
5) If you need to be gluten-free, you can use gluten-free all-purpose flour mix. Or you can go in a completely different direction and use a nut flour. Your crust won't be flaky - it will be more like a shortbread.
And here's Emily's pie crust recipe:
This is for a single crust 9-inch pie. For a double crust pie, just double the recipe.
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 Tbs. sugar
1/2 tsp. sea salt
8 Tbs. (1 stick) of very cold, unsalted butter
About 6 Tbs. ice cold water
Combine the flour, sugar and salt in a mixing bowl. Cut the cold butter into small pieces and add it into the flour mixture. Quickly cut the butter in with a pastry blender or rub it in using your finger tips until you have a coarse mixture with butter pieces about the size of small peas. If the butter has started to soften chill the ingredients for 5-10 minutes in the refrigerator.
When ready to proceed, start by sprinkling 1/4 cup of cold water over the flour-butter mixture and use a fork to stir it in. Add 1-2 more Tbs. water as needed until the mixture holds together in large clumps, then use your hands to gather the dough together and pat it gently into a ball.
Flatten the ball into a thick disc (or divide into two and flatten into two discs if you've doubled the recipe to make a double crust pie). Wrap the dough tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate it for at least 2 hours (I like to refrigerate it overnight).
After the dough is chilled, take it out, unwrap it, and roll it out on a floured surface until you have a 12-inch circle. (Repeat with the second half of the dough if making a double crust pie.) Shape, fill, and bake the pie according to the recipe for the particular pie you are making.