Today I’m introducing a new series on my blog: Kitchen Fundamentals. I’ve had so many friends (and readers) tell me recently that they wish they could cook or are too scared to try difficult recipes from scratch. What they don’t understand is that I used to be that person. In college, my go-to cake recipe was a box of Funfetti. Seriously. This series will include recipes that I think every home cook, whether beginner or seasoned, should have in their repertoire. If you have any suggestions on recipes you’d like to see in the future, please let me know!
Pie dough is one of those things that tends to intimidate people, but I’m here to tell you it’s not as complicated as it seems. I think everyone should have a go-to pie dough recipe, and this one has certainly become mine (since I made a ton of it for Clara’s first birthday party). Let me start by saying this is not an all butter pie dough (blasphemy!), but I have my reasons for choosing this recipe after trying many others. During Big Summer Potluck last year, Pam Anderson talked about testing recipes for America’s Test Kitchen. I already knew they put each recipe through rigorous testing, but hearing her explain how methodical and detailed these tests were gave me even more faith in ATK. So if they say the combination of butter and shortening will yield the best pie dough, I’m going to believe them. The other reason I chose this recipe is that I knew from prior experience that doughs made with shortening handle much more easily than all butter doughs, and I needed something easy to work with since I was making several recipes with this dough.
This pie dough is perfect in every way. The butter gives the crust that rich flavor that shortening alone can’t achieve, and the shortening makes the crust extremely tender and flaky. You get the ease and texture of a shortening dough with all the flavors of a butter one, which is pretty much the best thing ever. You can make dough several different ways – in the food processor like I did, in a stand mixer or even by hand – and they’ll all yield similar results. Give it a try! I promise you that once you’ve made and tasted homemade pie crust, you’ll never want to use store-bought again.
I’ve included a step-by-step photo of the dough as it changes with each step so that you can have a visual of what to expect the dough to look like as you proceed with the recipe.