This is reprinted from a blog post I made on my website. I was inspired to post this by a comment another member made about pie crusts.
I struggled for years trying to make a pie crust that didn’t stick to the board when I rolled it out, and didn’t tear when I tried to transfer it to the pie plate. But I’ve got the secrets now and I’m happy to share them with you.
2 1/2 cups AP flour
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cubed and ice cold
a pinch of salt
1 Tablespoon granulated sugar (optional)
6 - 8 Tablespoons ice water
pastry cloth and stocking
18” x 18” marble floor tile, unpolished
Regarding the floor tile - I was looking for a marble slab, and having checked Williams Sonoma and found the price way to high (something like $140 or so), I decided to visit the local Home Depot. I went to the tile department and asked the salesman about an 18” square marble tile, and he asked me what I needed it for. I told him, and he looked at me quizzically, then produced an 18” marble floor tile that was chipped on one edge and told me I could have it for nothing! But if you have to buy it, it’ll be a lot cheaper than a finished, polished slab, and remember that the marble piece and the pastry cloth are essential to the success of this method.
So, here’s the process:
Before beginning the dough, place the marble tile either in the refrigerator or the freezer - whichever is large enough to accomodate it. I have a large work freezer, so I use that. The key is to make the marble tile really, really cold!
Place the flour, salt and sugar (if you’re using it) into the bowl of a food processor and pulse a few times to mix the ingredients thoroughly.
Add half the butter and pulse until the mixture looks like coarse meal - you don’t want to see big chunks of butter at this point. This will help make the crust tender.
Now, add the rest of the butter and pulse just until there are pieces of butter the size of small peas. You want small chunks of butter in the finished dough because these are what will make the crust flaky.
Next, begin adding the ice water a tablespoon at a time, pulsing a couple of times after each addition, untill the dough begins to start to come together. Do not pulse until the dough forms a ball! That is too much!
Once the dough begins to form clumps, stop adding water and stop pulsing (you may have to use all the water, but you might not).
Now, dump the shaggy dough onto a board, divide in half and place each half of loosely clumped dough onto its own piece of plastic wrap. Gently but firmly form each into a disk, trying not to warm the dough with your hands (which would melt the butter). Use the plastic wrap to do the forming. Then wrap each disk in the plastic.
Before placing the disks into the refrigerator to rest for at least 1/2 hour, roll each plastic-wrapped disk on its edge on the counter to try to smooth the edge a little. Then place in the refrigerator and allow it to rest and firm up.
When the dough is rested sufficiently, take it out and allow it to warm up for a few minutes. Meanwhile, remove the cold marble from the freezer, place it on the counter and lay the pastry cloth over it, tucking the ends underneath the heavy marble so that the cloth remains stationary when you roll the dough. At this time you should also have the stocking on the rolling pin. I use a long, French-style pin.
Rub flour generously into the pastry cloth. Don’t worry about the dough absorbing it - the flour stays in the cloth! Do the same thing with the stocking-covered rolling pin.
Sprinkle a litle flour on both sides of the dough disk and place it in the center of the board. Bang it a couple of times to spread it out befor rolling begins. Now, roll it out! You’ll see that lifting and turning the dough will be simple, as the cold board will prevent the dough from warming - and the butter in it from melting.
The dough should not stick to the board at all. As it gets thinner, don’t even bother lifting and turning the dough - it won’t matter.
When the dough has reached the desired thickness/size, place the rolling pin near one edge and lift the edge of the dough onto the pin. Now roll the dough up onto the pin, transfer it to the pie plate, center and unroll it.
Carefully fit the dough into the pan, then trim the excess dough from around the rim, leaving about 1” for crimping. Once you have crimped the edge to your liking, place the plate and dough back into the freezer for a few minutes to firm. (Note - if you’re making a two-crust pie, don’t crimp yet)
That’s it! If you’re going to be rolling out a top crust, wait until you have filled the bottom crust and then repeat the process above. Place the top crust over the filled pie, and make sure to tuck the top crust under the 1” edge of the bottom crust - that way, the juices of the pie will be locked in and won’t bubble up and out at the edges. Now crimp the edge, refrigerate the pie for a few minutes and then bake.
I really hope you’ll try this, because it works.