Prebaked pie crust is notoriously finicky. To avoid hard-to-roll-out, dry crust, or one that slumps in the oven, try Milk Street’s pie dough—an easy pie crust recipe perfected by Christopher Kimball and expert baker Erika Bruce. (Read more about the path to the perfect pie crust from scratch here.)
Thanks to an unexpected ingredient, our fuss-free pie dough handles any amount of abuse or misuse during mixing and rolling. It’s made in the food processor and can be prepped in advance and frozen for up to a month. It was designed for blind baking and resists slumping and shrinking.
Why has no one developed a foolproof pie crust that is easy to mix, rolls out like a dream, handles and transfers well, and won’t slump in the pan when blind baked? — Christopher Kimball, Milk Street Magazine
Cornstarch, all-purpose flour, sugar, salt, salted butter, sour cream
Cornstarch? You read that right. Inspiration from Japan’s tender milk bread led us to this unexpected ingredient. Mixed with water into a gel, cornstarch lets you add extra moisture to the dough without risking further gluten development. The results are a flaky, reliable crust.
We also turned to sour cream for an even softer, more forgiving dough. Glutathione, the peptine in sour cream, reduces the ability of the proteins in wheat to react and form gluten, which means even less slumping.
First, you’ll combine the cornstarch with water and heat briefly in the microwave to form a gel. Once cooled, you’ll mix the gel and all ingredients in a food processor. Pulse flour, sugar and salt first. Then add gel. Finally, add butter and sour cream.
Once your dough has formed, roll out into a 4-inch disc, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 1 hour or up to 48 hours.
See here for the full recipe, including step-by-step video.
When ready to bake, roll out into a 12-inch disc and transfer to a 9-inch pie pan, trim and chill 15 minutes in the freezer.
To blind bake, line chilled dough with foil and pile it three-quarters full with pie weights. Bake at 375℉ until the edges are lightly brown—about 25 minutes. Remove foil and weights, bake another 5 to 7 minutes, then cool for one hour before filling.
The Best Way to Roll Out Pie Dough
Yes, there’s an art to rolling out pie dough. To avoid overworking the dough, roll in an arc and rotate, so you’re not putting too much pressure on the center.
You could also use a lighter rolling pin; heavier ones make it easier to overwork.
Finally, make sure there’s enough flour on the counter so the dough is always moving. Once it sticks to the counter, you’re developing more gluten, the enemy of flaky crust.
Blind Baking 101
When blind baking, line the pie or tart shell with heavy-duty foil (or a double layer of standard foil) and gently press the foil into the edges. Don’t skimp on the pie weights; fill the pie shell a generous three-quarters full with weights. We like ceramic pie weights, but a pound of dry beans or rice works, too. Avoid glass pie weights, which are too heavy and retain heat too long. And don’t remove the foil and weights until the dough is set and dry. To check, lift some of the foil and use your finger to feel the edge of the pie or tart for moisture.
Use your single-crust pie dough in this simple but elegant tart, where a silky custard tops a bed of brown sugar.
Or, try this lighter, fresher take on pumpkin pie, made with canned pumpkin puree sautéd with dark brown sugar for a slight caramel flavor. You’ll crave this pie year-round.