3 Pie Crust Recipes

This first recipe is from Betty Crocker's Pie and Pastry Cookbook, copyrighted 1972.  It used to be my favorite, now I mostly use the Best Recipe one.

Pie Crust from Betty Crocker Cookbook

  2-2/3 Cups all-purpose flour
  1 tsp. salt
  1 cup shortening or 3/4 cup plus 2 tbl. lard
  7 to 8 tablespoons cold water

Put flour and salt in food processor and pulse a couple times to combine.  Add shortening (I generally drop it in several chunks, which is easy to do now that shortening is sold in sticks like butter) and pulse four or five times until particles are the size of peas.  Don't overblend.  Remove from food processor and dump into bowl.  Sprinkle in water 1 tablespoon at a time tossing with fork until all flour is moistened and dough almost cleans side of bowl (you can add 1 to 2 teaspoons more water if necessary).  Gather dough into ball and divide into half; flatten each half into disk shape, wrap in plastic wrap and allow to rest in refrigerator for 1/2 hour or longer (if you let it rest longer, you may want to let it warm up slightly before rolling it out).  When rolling it out, flour the work surface very lightly so dough doesn't absorb more flour, and use a pastry scraper often to prevent it from sticking to surface.

Pie Crust from The Best Recipe Cookbook

The Best Recipe testers tested dozens of variations of pie dough.  The primary differences in theirs are:

1)  They believe butter adds more flavor to the pie crust.  However, butter doesn't produce as flaky a crust as shortening.  They therefore use some of both.

2)  They add sugar. 

3)  They have a higher ratio of fat to flour.

Currently my favorite. This recipe is for a 9-inch pie.

  2-1/2 Cups all-purpose flour
  1 tsp. salt
  2 tbls. sugar
  12 tbls. unsalted butter, chilled, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  8 tbls. all-vegetable shortening, chilled
  6 to 8 tablespoons ice water

Mix flour, salt, and sugar in food processor with steel blade.  Scatter butter pieces over the flour, tossing to coat butter with a little flour.  Cut butter into flour with five 1-second pulses.  Add shortening and continue cutting in until flour is pale yellow and resembles coarse oatmeal, with butter bits no larger than small peas, about four more 1-second pulses.  Turn mixture into medium bowl

Sprinkle 6 tablespoons ice water over mixture.  With rubber spatula, use folding motion to mix.  Press down on dough with broad side of spatula until dough sticks together, adding up to 2 tablespoons more ice water if it will not come together.  Divide dough into two balls and flatten into 4-inch-wide disks.  Dust lightly with flour, wrap each in plastic, and refrigerate at least 30 minutes or up to 2 days before rolling. 

Pie Crust from Alton Brown on Good Eats / FoodTV

To really appreciate Alton's recipe, you need to see the episode.  I have not tried this version.  Alton's modifications include:

1)  He also agreed that butter tastes better but is less flaky.  His solution was different from "The Best Recipe" - he lets some butter come to full room temperature and pulses that in first until it is completely combined (not in "pea size chunks").  He then pulses the remaining butter while cold until he gets the pea-size chunks.  Somehow this combination gets the texture and flakiness he wants.

2)  He uses sugar but also uses some cornmeal in with the flour.

3)  For the moistening agent he uses water and apple juice mixed together (not simply water).

4)  And he uses a "spritzer" (a simple hand-held spray bottle) to add the liquid, rather than sprinkling it in with a tablespoon.  This is brilliant, since I've always had a hard time getting the water evenly applied to the dough.  It does however take a  little practice to get the right amount.  I tried it once on the Betty Crocker recipe, and I added too much water, the dough was a little too damp but still perfectly usable. 

  2-1/2 Cups all-purpose flour
  1/2 Cup stone-ground cornmeal
  1 tsp. kosher salt
  3 tbls. sugar
  8 ozs (two sticks) unsalted butter, divided, diced
  3 tbls. apple juice concentrate
  2 tbls. ice water

In a food processor, combine flour, cornmeal, sugar, and salt. Pulse to combine. Place dry ingredients in a mixing bowl and put the bowl into the refrigerator. Remove 1/2 stick of butter from the refrigerator and allow it to come to room temperature. In a food processor, add the 1/2 stick of butter to the flour mixture. Pulse until the fat completely disappears. Add the remaining 1 1/2 sticks butter in separate batches. Pulse until flour mixture resembles the size of a pea.

Combine the apple juice concentrate and the cold water. Using a spray bottle, spritz the dough with the apple juice mixture while folding the mixture with a spatula. After about three tablespoons of the liquid, check the dough for consistency. It should hold together when compressed but remain relatively dry to the touch. If it does not bind, add a little more water. Remove from the processor and form the dough into a ball. Wrap the dough in wax paper or parchment paper and rest in refrigerator for 20 minutes.