Pie Dough 101

Apple pie with rosemary and walnuts. (Kim O'Donnel)

You said you wanted a tutorial on pie dough; we listened and now you've got no more excuses! Earlier this week, I created quite the flour storm at Casa Appetite and shot photos every step of my pie-making adventure, just for you. The result: Pie 101: a how-to photo gallery.

The dough recipe details are below, as well as how-to for my favorite apple, rosemary and pine nut filling. But for now, I'll let the pictures do the talking, and you can tell me what you think in the comments area below -- or today at 1 ET for What's Cooking Thanksgiving.

(P.S. Big thanks to photo editor Troy Witcher for his on-the-fly wizardry.)

Apple Pie With Rosemary and Pine Nuts

From “A Mighty Appetite for the Holidays” by Kim O’Donnel

Flaky Pie Dough

Adapted from “The Pie and Pastry Bible” by Rose Levy Beranbaum
11 ounces (or 2 ¼ cups) all-purpose flour
¼ teaspoons baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
14 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, diced (Alternatively, equal amounts Earth Balance spread)
1 tablespoon cider vinegar
5-7 tablespoons ice water

Method: Making Dough
You may do this by hand, as described below, or you may do it in a food processor, using a dough blade and the “pulse” function.

In a chilled bowl, mix flour, baking powder and salt. Incorporate (also called “cutting”) nine tablespoons of the butter with your fingers tips, a fork or a spoon, until mixture looks like peas.

Cover mixture with plastic wrap and chill for at least 15 minutes to let rest.

Remove from fridge and add remaining five tablespoons of butter, “cutting” until mixture looks like cornmeal. Let rest again, covered in fridge or freezer, depending on weather.

Place dough in a mixing bowl (regardless of method). Add cider vinegar, then gradually add ice water. Add first five tablespoons and check for moistness of dough. If it feels adequately wet, then you have added enough water. The weather will determine the absorption rate.

Press dough gently to combine and form into a disc. Wrap in a Ziploc-type bag and press to make flat.

Chill or freeze for later use.

Rolling Out Dough
When ready, make sure work surface is cool and dust lightly with flour. Cut dough in half with a sharp knife or bench scraper. Return remaining half to fridge.

With a flour-dusted rolling pin, pound on dough to flatten and soften. Rotate after each pounding or two. If dough begins to stick, add a touch of flour to the surface. When it’s flattened to an inch thickness or so, you may begin to roll out.

Always begin from the center. Each time you roll, rotate dough 45 degrees and check for stickiness. Roll until you have a 12-inch circle about ¼-1/2 inch thick.

Fold circle in half or into quarters and place into pie plate. Unfold and mold to the plate, pressing gently. Make sure you leave a border on the sides that can connect with the top crust, but trim any hanging dough with scissors or a knife.

"Blind Baking"
Place a piece of parchment paper that’s been trimmed to fit inside pie plate and on top of dough. Fill paper with dried beans or rice. This helps to weigh down dough and minimize leavening.

Place pie plate in a preheated oven of 400 degrees. Keep an eye on the crust. You want it to get slightly tan, which takes about 10 minutes.

Remove from oven. Turn up heat to 425 degrees to prepare for baking of the entire pie.

Brush crust with one egg white mixed with a few tablespoons of water. This will help to moisturize the crust.

About 6 apples, peeled, cored and cut into slices, about ½ inch in size
2 tablespoons flour
Juice of ½ lemon
½ cup granulated or brown sugar
½-1 teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh rosemary
¼ cup toasted pine nuts or walnuts

Place apples in a medium bowl; squeeze lemon over apples.

Add flour; this helps to absorb some of the moisture of the apples as they are cooking. Add remaining filling ingredients and stir to combine.

Taste. Are you happy with the results? If so, pour filling into “blind baked” bottom crust.

Roll out second half of dough for the top, as instructed in the dough recipe details, and pinch edges together around perimeter of the entire pie.

With a paring knife, score top to work as a vent, and brush top with more of that egg white mixture for shine.

Place pie on a baking sheet into oven and bake for 45-55 minutes, or until juices are bubbling. Pie should be golden brown.

Remove and let pie cool for at least two hours, a very important step if you want pretty pie slices.

By Kim ODonnel |  November 20, 2008; 7:00 AM ET Baking , Thanksgiving
Previous: Thanksgiving Chat Hotline, Week Two | Next: The Great Sugar Pumpkin


Please email us to report offensive comments.

Thank you so much! I actually have been wanting to bake a pie but wasn't sure about how to bake the crust! :)

Posted by: Merdi | November 20, 2008 9:27 AM

Do you always blind bake pie crust before filling and baking a second time? I'm just curious if you would do the same for, say, pumpkin pie. I don't think I've ever blind baked a crust for a covered pie, although I always do it for a tart. Do you let it cool before filling, covering, and crimping?

Other thoughts on pie crust: I use a crust recipe with equal parts shortening and butter. I find that ratio is a little more forgiving that all butter crusts. Another alternative might be to use a pasta frolla recipe, which includes an egg in the ingredient list, and is frequently used in making tarts. This yields a rich crust that is extremely workable - something first time pie makers might find appealing.

Posted by: jsb3 | November 20, 2008 12:28 PM

I know you somewhat covered this during the chat, but would you please give the "rule of thumb" concerning blind baking crusts? Is it only done for fruit fillings? What about pies like pecan or butterscotch? Thank you! :)

Posted by: Merdi | November 20, 2008 2:18 PM

Merdi, the idea behind "blind baking" is to give the dough a little jumpstart before it meets the wet filling. Fruit fillings tend to have more water, so if you don't parbake, the crust tends to be undercooked and soggy. It also seems to make a difference for two-crust pies. If you need a rule of thumb, here goes: "blind bake" for fruit filling pies only.

Posted by: Kim ODonnel | November 20, 2008 2:22 PM

I disagree (and tried to post on the chat but came too late). You should blind bake for cooked custard fillings like pumpkin pie as well. Otherwise the moisture in the custard impedes the bottom of the crust browning.

Posted by: kgirl2 | November 20, 2008 2:28 PM

The last time I tried to blind bake with a sheet of parchment paper separating the beans from the dough I found the area where the paper touched the dough was moist/soggy. In the past I've blind baked without and it hasn't been that way - sometimes a few beans would need to be gently prised away from the dough, but that was about it..

Posted by: washingtondc4 | November 25, 2008 11:48 AM

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