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Baking Tips: Perfect Pie Crust

Senior recipe developer Grace Parisi has perfected her pie pastry technique. Here, she shares her best tips.

Making the Dough

When making the dough, use a food processor—plain and simple, the best method. Pulse the flour and salt to combine. Add the butter—ice cold and cut into 1/2-inch cubes—and pulse until it is the size of peas. Lift the lid, drizzle the ice water all over the dry ingredients. Pulse 5 or 6 times, just until everything is moistened, but the butter is still visible in lumps and the dough forms moistened crumbs. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured board, gather it with your hands and knead it once or twice, just until it comes together. Pat to flatten into a disc, wrap and chill for 30 minutes.

Rolling the Dough

When you roll out the dough, lightly flour the board. I like to use a baton-style rolling pin—a two-inch-wide dowel with tapered ends. Using the rolling pin, pound the pastry firmly to flatten it to about 1/2-inch and soften it just enough to start rolling. The dough should still be very chilled but pliable. Once it gets too soft and flimsy to roll, slip it back in the fridge to firm up.

Baking

ALWAYS use a glass pie plate so you can make absolutely sure the bottom is browned and fully cooked. My biggest pet peeve with piecrusts is when the bottom crust is pale and undercooked.

Butter vs. Lard

I've mentioned having to render my own pork fat to get the best-quality lard. (Would I do this at home, in 96° weather, on a much-too-busy weekend? Probably not, but you definitely should.) I substituted 1/4 cup of the butter with lard and absolutely loved the result—a pastry that was rich, flaky, crumbly and just gorgeous to work with. All-butter pie crust is still my favorite for its delicate sweetness and flaky texture but either version will do the trick.

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