I think I’ve mentioned this before but homemade pie crust and I have a bit of a history. We haven’t really always been the best of friends. Let me tell you about the latest episode in my pie crust drama. I’ve been pretty frustrated with my pie crust skills for so long, I’d pretty much given up on them and just decided I would always be one who always buys frozen pre-made crust. And really, there’s nothing wrong with that. I think one of the reasons I felt so frustrated with my homemade crust is because what I can buy frozen is pretty darn good!
But, I’m all about convenience, and sometimes as strange as it sounds, its more convenient for me to make my own pie crust than it is to run to the store and buy one. Anyone who has ever shopped with a handful of kiddos know what I’m talking about? And I like knowing that what I eat is mostly homemade. Less weird stuff thrown in right? If I’m going to eat something as naughty as pie crust, I at least want it to be naughty in a homemade sort of way. Since I always have the ingredients on hand, HELLO – butter, flour, H2O – I knew if I could just master some pie crust skills and I’d be all set!
So every now and then I get the gumption to try my hand again. This time, I wanted to make little mini hand pies with some apples I had in the fridge. I decided to try the “butter grating technique” that I’d heard about. So I grabbed my cheese grater, and a very chilled stick of butter and grated it just like cheese. The I put the grated butter back into the freezer just for good measure. Everyone says that the key to a good pie crust is to keep your butter as cold as possible right up until you put the pie crust into the oven.
When I used my pastry cutter to cut the flour into the grated butter, it was so much easier than when I had cut the butter into small cubes with a knife the last time I’d tried to make a crust. I had the perfect little flour coated pea sized pieces of chilled butter with hardly any effort at all.
Then I slowly added ice cold water one tablespoon at a time, mixing by hand until the dough came together in a ball, with just a few straggling crumbs to gather.
I shaped the dough into a round, flat disk, wrapped it in plastic wrap and placed it in the fridge for 4 hours.
Then, I rolled it out on a floured surface, and I could still see tiny flecks of butter throughout the dough. This is a sign of good pie crust dough, so I started to really get my hopes up! Those tiny flecks of butter create steam when they go into the oven, which create air pockets in the crust, which gives it that FLAKEY texture we so LOVE!
So I cut out circles of dough, filled them with my simple apple filling, and crimped the edges closed. I have a Cut-N-Seal tool for this, but you could also use a biscuit cutter, or the rim of a glass. Use the tines of a fork to seal the edges. Before they went into the oven, I brushed them with an egg wash to make the top nice and shiny, and then sprinkled them with a coarse sparkling sugar.
Let me tell you, the crust turned out so much better than I had ever hoped it would. We’re talking TENDER and FLAKY and BUTTERY- the best I’ve ever had! I can’t wait to make an actual regular sized pie with this method. I don’t think I will ever be buying frozen pie crust again, and I’m so happy that homemade pie crust dough and I are finally the best of friends. Hope you get a chance to try it too!
Did you make this recipe?
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- 1 stick cold butter grated then frozen (salted)
- 1 1/4 cup all purpose flour
- 1/4 cup ice cold water by the tablespoon
- 2 cups diced apples (pretty small)
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- 1/4 cup white sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 tablespoon orange juice.
- Egg Wash - 1 egg + 1 tablespoon water whisked together
- Sparkling sugar
- Grate your butter into a mixing bowl and place the bowl into the freezer for 15 minutes.
- Add 1 1/4 cup all purpose flour and cut it into the grated butter with a pastry cutter until you have coarse crumbs of flour coated butter.
- Add about 1/4 cup of ice cold water by the tablespoon to your coarse crumbs. You may not need this much, so add gradually as you mix by hand. When a dough ball is formed, gather it together and place it on a piece of plastic wrap. Shape it into a round, flat disk and cover it with the plastic wrap. Refrigerate for 4 hours.
- Roll the dough out onto a well floured surface. Using a circle shaped cutter (or the rim of a glass), cut out as many circles as you can fit. Then gather up the remaining dough and cut out the circles again. You will want an even number because each pie needs a top and bottom circle.
- Place half of the circles on a baking sheet. Top with 2-3 tablespoons of the diced apple filling. Your filing will be juicy, but try to leave as much of the juice in the bowl as you can when you are spooning the filling onto the pie dough.
- Top each one with the remaining circles of dough. Crimp the edges closed with the tines of a fork, and be intentional as you do this, so that the majority of the filling will stay put. I used my Pampered Chef Cut N Seal to do this.
- Cut a small hole in the top of each pie.
- Using a pastry brush, brush on the egg wash and sprinkle generously with sparkling sugar.
- Bake at 400 for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown on top. Juices may run out as the apple filling cooks, but don't worry about it.