This tender, flaky crust is one of the easiest I've ever made, and also the most delicious.
I think pie should be made and eaten during every month of the year. Homemade pie is a great way to use up excess fruit, and making your own ensures control over the ingredients and minimizes the waste that comes with commercial desserts.
But there's something to be said especially for pie in the fall: It's the beginning of comfort-food season, the cool weather beckons the firing up of the oven, and the harvest offers up an embarrassment of fruits that want to be enveloped in crust.Now that the weather here in the mid-Atlantic states is dropping, my mind keeps wandering towards pie. Which recently led me to Petee's Pie Company in Manhattan's lower east side. What looks like a humble little pie shop serves up what many call the best pie in the city, and I have to agree. Seriously, that pie is perfection.
Started by pie whisperer Petra 'Petee' Paredez, there's a lot to love about Petee's – like fresh local ingredients, the crust's grassfed butter and organic NY state flour, and that pie is served from the counter on real plates with real forks for eating there, a nice alternative from eating takeout pie in a plastic box. (You can get it to go as well; it comes in a cardboard box.) But it's the pie itself that is brings the crowds. And what's perfect pie without a perfect crust? This one is tender, flaky, buttery, and the perfect compliment to any filling.
I have made hundreds of pies in my life, and oddly enough, I have never had a recipe that I just love. My go-to recipe is certainly serviceable, but not spectacular. I was so startled by how delicious Petee's crust was that I decided to see what the secret was, thinking that surely the great oracle of Google would not satisfy my quest. But lo and behold, there is a video of Petra revealing all! And a recipe to boot! So I tried it, and it was the best pie crust I have yet to make. And one of the easiest because although there are some unusual steps, I'd consider this a foolproof recipe, which really raises the easy factor. You can see the method here:
Petee’s Pie Crust Dough
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons hot water (see note)
2 tablespoons ice cold water
1/2 pound (two sticks) unsalted butter, placed in freezer for 30 minutes
2 1/2 cups pastry flour, placed in freezer for 30 minutes (plus extra for flouring work surface) (see note)
- Mix sugar, salt, and hot water in small bowl and stir until dissolved. Place in freezer until ice cold but still liquid.
Note: I used boiling water to ensure it dissolved.
- Sprinkle about 3/4 cup of pastry flour on the bottom of the food processor bowl, then set it up with the grater attachment and grate butter.
Note: I couldn't find my grating blade, so I used a box grater; I worked quickly, and it was fine. Note: I didn't have pastry flour on hand, but substituted a mix of 1 cup cake flour and 1.5 cups all-purpose flour, thinking that this would be a good approximation. It worked perfectly.
- Pour contents of food processor and remaining flour into a cold metal bowl.
- Use your fingers to coat butter pieces with flour and break up any larger bits of butter. When butter pieces are coated in flour, sprinkle the cold sugar/salt/water mixture in. Lightly toss the mixture to spread it throughout. Sprinkle remaining 2 tablespoons of cold water over the mixture and toss to form a shaggy dough.
Note: I needed a little bit more cold water to make the dough stick together, and slowly added into it was workable but not sticky.
- Form the dough into two disks. Wrap in plastic (I used parchment) and chill for at least 30 minutes. Bring back up to room temperature before rolling.
- Sprinkle flour onto clean surface. Roll dough to desired thickness – Petra likes than 1/4 inch. Transfer to pie dish. This will make up to three 9-inch bottom crusts or one double crust pie with a little excess dough.
Mine was perfect for one double-crust 9-inch pie. I blind-baked the bottom for 10 minutes before adding my fruit to avoid the dreaded soggy bottom, and also baked the pie on a baking sheet to help as well. An egg wash on top made a nice shiny, golden lid ... and waiting for an hour after it was done to cut into it ensured that the fruit juices didn't ooze out in a soupy mess, but it was still warm inside.
I am quite happy to finally have found a great go-to crust. Next I am going to try to translate the method to a plant-based version – I am about 90/10 vegan/vegetarian, but I am inspired to play around with these tricks. I will keep you posted.
If you give it a try, I'd love to hear about your experience with it – let us know in the comments. Happy pie season!