pie dough

You may have noticed my image next to “food with pictures” is of a pie. It’s an apple pie,which is my favorite kind (and that is saying something, since I do adore all types of pie). That photo was taken on a holiday a few years ago.

Each Thanksgiving and Christmas, and a few other times throughout the fall and winter, I make apple pie. Usually I make my own crust, at least on the holidays, but every once in a while I’ll save time and purchase the refrigerated crusts that you simply roll out. Today is Thanksgiving so homemade pie crust was on the menu!


For as long as I’ve been making pie (and I’ve been making pie for decades) I’ve always used the basic pie dough recipe from Joy of Cooking. I don’t use it exactly as it is written, for a few reasons. Firstly, I don’t use solid shortening or lard. I use all butter. Only butter. Real butter. (Hey, I never said this was good for you, but it is good!). Secondly, when I used the recipe as it was written, the quantities they list didn’t turn into a nice crust for me. Maybe flour and butter and water were somehow different back in 1931 when this book was first published, because there is no way the amount of water they have listed pulls it all together. Over the years I’ve made adjustments to get a crust I’m happy with. Funny thing is I still open up my old copy of this traditional book, even though I could just as easily refer to my notes that I’ve typed into a recipe folder on my computer. I think I enjoy going back to where it all started for me.

evidence of decades of use of this reliable cookbook


Basic Pie Dough

3 cups flour

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

16 tablespoons chilled butter

1/2 to 3/4 cup cold water (Note: the amount of water needed is not exact … use what you need to in order for the crust to just come together)

*Edited to add: When I first posted this recipe I included the regular recipe which makes two crusts, as well as increased quantities of each ingredient in order to make three crusts (which is what I did because I was making an apple pie and a pumpkin pie for Thanksgiving). But, for some reason, when I increased the quantities, it didn’t work out well.  Next time I will stick to the regular recipe (above) which makes two crusts. Also, originnaly I posted the incorrect quantity of butter — it is now updated.


Stir together the flour and salt in a large bowl.

Put into the bowl about half the butter, cut into pieces.

Using a good sturdy pastry blender, cut the butter into the flour. (Note: If you don’t have a good quality one of these, you’d be better off using two sharp knives or giving up completely and buying store-bought pie dough.) You know it’s ready when there are no large chunks of butter (should be the texture of cornmeal).

Add the remaining butter, cut into pieces.

Using the pastry blender, continue until the butter is in pieces no larger than the size of a pea.

Spoon the water onto the dough, starting with about half the water. Then, using a fork, stir or “lift” the ingredients, allowing the moisture to spread. You will likely need to add more of the water in order for it to hold all together. Don’t worry about getting it into a solid ball. A loosely held together dough ball is good. Do not over handle it!

Refrigerate for about an hour (or more) until ready to make pie.

When ready, remove from refrigerator and let it sit for a few minutes before rolling out.

Cut into equal sized portions (two if using the regular recipe, or three if using the larger one).

Place a bit of flour on the counter and a little on the roller.

Gently flatten the dough ball, then start rolling from the center outward.

I like to put a teaspoon of flour into the pie pan before placing the pie dough into it.

Proceed as needed based on the type of pie you’re making.

*Note: Recipe for my apple pie to be posted in a day or two!

2 responses to “pie dough

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