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Best Butter Pie Pastry

From Apple Pie Perfect: 100 Delicious and Decidedly Different Recipes for America's Favorite Pie

1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/4-inch pieces (see note)
1 large egg yolk
About 3 tablespoons cold water

Yields enough pastry for 1 (9-inch) deep-dish pie shell.

Put the flour, sugar and salt in a food processor (if hand-mixing, see instructions below) and pulse several times to mix. Remove the lid and scatter the butter pieces over the dry ingredients. Pulse the machine repeatedly—6 or 7 one-second bursts—until the butter is broken into very small pieces.

Place the egg yolk in a 1-cup glass measure and add just enough of the water to equal 1/4 cup liquid.


Using a fork, blend the water and yolk. Remove the lid of the processor and pour the liquid over the entire surface of the dry ingredients. Don't, in other words, pour it into one spot. Pulse the machine again, in short bursts, until the pastry starts to form large clumps. Don't overprocess, or the butter will start to melt rather than stay in small pieces. Tear off a sheet of plastic wrap about 14 inches long and place it nearby.

Empty the crumbs into a large mixing bowl. Using your hands, pack the dough as you would a snowball. Knead the dough 2 or 3 times, right in the bowl. Put the dough in the center of the plastic wrap and flatten it into a disk about 3/4-inch thick. The edges will probably crack slightly; just pinch and mold them back into a smooth disk. Wrap the dough in the plastic and refrigerate until firm enough to roll, about 1 hour.

To mix by hand: Combine flour, sugar and salt in a large mixing bowl and mix well. Scatter butter pieces over dry ingredients and cut them in, using a pastry blender or 2 knives, until the butter is broken into very fine pieces; the mixture will not be quite as fine as with the food processor. Blend the yolk and water as directed above. Sprinkle about half of the liquid over the flour, mixing it in with a fork. Lift the mixture up from the bottom of the bowl and press down on the downstroke. Add the remaining liquid a little at a time until the dough coheres. You may need 1 to 2 teaspoons more water.

Note: "The most important thing to remember about this dough," writes Haedrich, "is not to overprocess it, or the butter will warm up and melt into the pastry, with less-than-desirable results." As for the dough's assets, he writes: "This is the workhorse of my pie pastry repertoire. It has a great buttery flavor, it's easy to roll and it holds up beautifully in the pan, remaining firm and distinct rather than turning into mush as some pastries do. In short, I'm crazy about this pastry and almost reflexively refer to it when I'm going to make a single-crust pie."





(Updated: 10/21/08 SN)

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