Food & dining

Recipe: The no-stress all-butter pastry crust

Yields two 9-inch pie crusts

Stella Parks’s piecrust recipe from her new cookbook is a wonder of pliability but requires significant preparation time. If making a single-crust pie, the dough is blind-baked, i.e. prebaked prior to filling. If making a two-crust pie, refrigerate pie for 30 minutes before baking. Two warnings: Failure to weigh flour could result in an insufficient amount that will lead to a greasy mess during baking. Combat kitchen temperatures above 74 degrees by briefly putting ingredients and equipment in the refrigerator and cooling countertops with bags of ice.

cups plus 1 tablespoon (8 ounces) all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
1tablespoon sugar
teaspoons kosher salt (half as much if iodized)
2sticks (16 tablespoons) cold unsalted butter, cut into ½-inch cubes
½cup (4 ounces) ice water

1. Have on hand a 9-inch glass pie pan (it should be 2 inches deep) and a rimmed baking sheet. In a medium bowl, sift flour. Whisk in sugar and salt. Cut butter into ½-inch cubes, no smaller, and toss with flour to break up the pieces. With a teaspoon, roughly smash each cube once flat.

2. Drizzle the mixture with cold water and stir with a fork. Knead until the dough comes together in a ball.

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3. Generously flour workspace. Sprinkle the dough with more flour. Roll the dough into a 10-by-15-inch sheet. Fold each 10-inch side toward the middle, until they meet, then fold one side over the other like you’re closing a book. Fold the top to the bottom to make a thick block. Cut in half. Take one piece, cover with plastic wrap. Place in refrigerator until ready to roll.

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4. Dust the surface with more flour and roll dough into a 14-inch round. Use a pastry brush to dust off excess flour. Drape over pie plate, flush against the pan. Trim excess dough into a 1¼-inch overhang all around, then fold over to create a ¾-inch border that sits on the rim of the plate; if positioned inside the rim, the crust will be too shallow to accommodate the filling. Pinch or press the border into a zigzag pattern. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate at least 2 hours, or overnight. Alternately, formed crusts can be frozen up to 3 months and thawed in a refrigerator before use.

5. To bake the crust, adjust oven rack to
lower-middle position and preheat to 350 degrees. Line the chilled crust with a large strip of foil (not parchment or wax paper), letting the excess loosely cover the rim. Fill with plain white sugar. Bake on a baking sheet until fully set and golden brown, about 1 hour. Remove from the oven and carefully lift out the foil, setting it aside until the sugar has cooled. (The sugar can be reused for baking.) If the sides of the crust seem puffy or pale, continue baking 10 minutes more. Cool to room temperature. Use immediately, or wrap in plastic and store at room temperature for up to 24 hours. Adapted from “BraveTart: Iconic American Desserts,” by Stella Parks.

Peggy Hernandez can be reached at mphernan1@gmail.com.