A montage of pies and tarts using a foolproof pie dough recipe.

No matter which pie dough recipe you use, the principles of making it will be the same: keep the ingredients cold, cold, cold. Let’s review:

Homemade Pie Dough

Purists will say that making a pie dough in the food processor is a no-no, but I find it works very well—so does Martha Stewart!—and if you are making a lot of dough, using a processor will save you a lot of time. (If you don’t have one, don’t worry: there are instructions below for making it without.)

The French Trick to Foolproof Pie Dough

Ten years ago I took a cooking class at Antoine’s Cafe in San Clemente, California during which the French instructor, Caroline Cazaumayou, wowed the audience with a tea towel.

After pulsing a few ingredients together in the food processor, she dumped the crumbly dough into the center of a tea towel. She then pulled up the corners of the towel and twisted it into a beggar’s purse. When she opened it up, the audience gasped: the crumbles had united to form a perfect round of dough.

This tea towel trick achieves two things:

  1. A tender crust, because the crumbly dough ensures it has not been over worked.
  2. A perfectly round shape, the ideal starting point for many a pie and/or tart.

This video demonstrates the process:

A few things to keep in mind:

  • To start the pie-dough making process, cut your butter into smallish slices or cubes, place them in a bowl, and stick them in the fridge. Fill a large liquid measuring cup with ice and water. Set aside.
  • If you want to make several batches of dough, rather than multiply the recipe and load up your food processor, make separate batches consecutively. No need to clean the processor in between batches.
  • When I make the dough and plan on using it shortly thereafter, I prefer rolling it out immediately, fitting it into the pie plate, then chilling the dough-fitted pie plate in the freezer for at least 30 minutes.
  • When you are rolling out your dough, try to keep tools and ingredients cold — my aunt uses a marble rolling pin that she keeps in the freezer. (I never remember to freeze my rolling pins, but it’s something to keep in mind.)

This video shows how to roll out pie dough and make a simple fluted edge:

How to Make Foolproof Pie Dough

    1. Measure your ingredients.
      A counter with a food processor and the ingredients to make foolproof food processor pastry dough.
    2. First pulse the flour, sugar and salt together.
      A counter with a food processor filled with the ingredients to make foolproof food processor pastry dough.
    3. Add the butter and pulse 10 times (about).
      A counter with a food processor filled with the ingredients to make foolproof food processor pastry dough: flour, salt, sugar, and butter.
    4. The butter should be the size of peas (about).
      A counter with a food processor filled with dry ingredients pulsed with butter.
    5. Add ice water.
      A counter with a food processor filled with dry ingredients pulsed with butter and ice water added.
    6. Pulse again about 10 to 15 times or until the dough is still crumbly, but holds together when pinched.
      A counter with a food processor filled with dry ingredients pulsed with butter and ice water.
    7. Divide dough between two clean tea towels. I love these tea towels by Now Designs.
      Two tea towels filled with just-pulsed food processor pastry dough.
    8. Gather towel into a beggar’s purse, and squeeze to form a round.
      A tea towel with a round of food processor pastry dough.
    9. Transfer one to the freezer for a future use.
      A round of food processor pastry dough in a ziplock bag with the date on it.
    10. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the remaining round into a circle about 12- to 13-inches in diameter.
      A floured board with a round of foolproof food processor pastry dough on it.
      A floured board with a round of foolproof food processor pastry dough on it rolled into an 11-inch circle.
    11. Fold dough into quarters to easily transfer to a pie plate or tart pan. Freeze for at least 30 minutes.A floured board with a round of foolproof food processor pastry dough on it rolled out and folded into quarters.

This 1-minute video sums up the above process:

5 Recipes to Use Foolproof Pie Dough In

Bourbon Pecan Pie (No Corn Syrup)
slice of bourbon pecan pie (no corn syrup)

Ronnie Hollingsworth’s Most Excellent Squash Pie
Ronnie Hollingsworth's Most Excellent Squash Pie

Apple-Frangipane Galette
apple frangipane galette

Sister Pie’s Salted Maple Pie

Sister Pie's Salted Maple Pie

French Apple Tart
Just baked French apple tart on sheet pan.

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Pie Boxes with Pies

Foolproof All-Purpose Pie Dough


  • Author: Alexandra Stafford
  • Prep Time: 20 minutes
  • Total Time: 20 minutes
  • Yield: 2 nine-inch rounds

Description

This is the pie dough I use for everything: galettes, tarts, etc.

Dough can be made up to three days in advance and stored in the fridge or made weeks in advance and stored in the freezer. To thaw, place dough in the fridge overnight before baking. 

To make a double batch: do not load your food processor with double quantities. Make the dough in separate batches — no need to wash the food processor in between batches.


Ingredients

  • 2½ cups (320g) all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 16 tablespoons (227g) unsalted butter, cut into small pieces and chilled
  • ½ cup + 2 tablespoons (142g) ice water

Instructions

  1. In the bowl of a food processor, pulse the flour, sugar and salt together. Add the chilled, cubed butter. Pulse at 1-second intervals until butter is the size of peas — should be about 10 quick pulses. Add the ice water and pulse again about 10 times until the mixture is crumbly but holds together when pinched. (To make without a food processor: In a large bowl, whisk flour, sugar and salt together. Add the butter to the flour mixture, and using the back of a fork or a pastry cutter, incorporate it until it is in small pieces. Add ice water and continue to stir with fork until mixture it crumbly but holds together when pinched.)
  2. Lay two clean tea towels on a work surface. Dump half of the crumbly dough mixture into the center of each. Grab the four corners of the towel together and twist to create a beggar’s purse, pressing the dough into a round. Use your hands to pack and flatten the round. Wrap in plastic wrap or parchment paper, place in ziplock or other airtight bag/vessel, and stash in the fridge for 3 days or in the freezer for months.
  • Category: Dessert
  • Method: Food Processor
  • Cuisine: American

Keywords: pastry, foolproof, dessert, food processor