You may have heard of pie crust being described as "fluffy". A fluffy pie crust isn't literally a fluff of pastry, but a crust that is light in texture, tender and flaky. The key to the perfect fluffy crust is using the right technique and ingredients. You don't need to be an expert or professional baker to make a fluffy pie crust, but you will need to follow a few guidelines.
Things You'll Need
- All-purpose white flour
- 1/3 cup ice cold water
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter
- 1/2 cup shortening
- Pinch of salt
- 1 tbsp. sugar, herbs or seasonings (optional)
- Pie pan
- Plastic wrap
- Pastry cutter or knife with round blade
Chill 1/3 cup of water in the freezer for 5 minutes before you start to mix the crust. This will keep the fat in the dough from completely melting, resulting in a light, fluffy texture. Do not use water straight from the tap or the refrigerator.
Cut the half cup of chilled, unsalted butter and half cup of shortening -- the butter will add flavor, while the shortening will help give the crust a flaky, light texture -- into small chunks just before you get ready to make the dough. If you allow the fats to warm up too much, they will melt and your crust won't be as fluffy.
Sift 1 1/2 cups flour into a bowl. Add a pinch of salt and 1 tbsp. sugar if the crust will be used to make a dessert. If you will use the crust for a savory dish and want to your crust to have a bit of flavor, add up to 1 tbsp. herbs and seasonings of your choice to the flour at this point.
Work the chunks of butter and shortening into the flour using a knife with a round blade or a pastry cutter until the fats start to break down.
Use the tips of your fingers to rub the flour and fat mixture together until it resembles coarse breadcrumbs. Do not overwork the mix at this point; your fingers will heat up the fat, and you don't want it to melt completely.
Pour 1 tbsp. of ice water at a time over the flour and fat mixture. Incorporate the water into the mix using a pastry cutter or knife with a round blade, adding tablespoonfuls of water as needed, until you have a ball of dough. Be patient, as this process will take several minutes.
Wrap the ball of dough in a piece of plastic wrap and put it in the refrigerator for half an hour. Doing so is crucial to keep the fats from completely melting before the dough is baked.
Preheat your oven to the temperature specified in your recipe.
Take the dough out of the refrigerator and knead it lightly, for no more than two or three minutes, to warm it up a bit.
Roll the crust out on a lightly floured surface, press it into your pie pan, and cut off the excess dough. You can roll the dough out to whatever thickness you prefer or whatever is called for in your recipe, but 1/8 inch is the norm and will bake evenly.
Bake the crust according to your recipe.
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