Posted by: marthabernie | May 16, 2013


Some people make really great pie crust from scratch, others struggle with it.  My grandmother, Dulcie Marlin, made the lightest pie crusts in the world.  She seemed to have some secret which she never imparted to any of us.  My mother, on the other hand, made thousands of pies in her lifetime, and her crusts were generally a little tough for some reason.  Both ladies used Crisco instead of butter back in the 50’s.  My mother did switch to butter in later decades, but her crusts were still not flakey and light.  I think it had to do with over processing the dough, and I don’t think she used ice water either.  Also, they learned to make pies long before we had food processors.  Don’t get me wrong…my mother made WONDERFUL pies, but the crust was never as good as those made by my grandmother, who interestingly enough never made great fillings for her pies as my mother did!  We always said if we could get Mom’s fillings into Granny’s crusts, we’d have the perfect pies, but they did not collaborate in that way.  They each liked to make their own.   The following is the key to making a really great pie crust.


There are two keys to a flaky crust:  In Step 2, be sure you can see pieces of butter, which will release steam and create air pockets during baking.  After adding the water in Step 3, do not overprocess the dough, otherwise it will be tough.

2-1/2 cups all purpose flour

1 tablespoon sugar

3/4 teaspoon salt

1 cup (2 sticks) chilled, unsalted butter, cut into 1/2 inch cubes

6 tablespoons ice water

1.   Pulse the flour, sugar and salt in a food processor, then add cold butter.

2.   Pulse until some large pea-size pieces of butter remain.

3.   Add ice water, then pulse until moist clumps form.  Squeeze a handful of dough, it should just hold together.

4.   Turn out dough onto a clean surface and gently gather into two balls.  Flatten each into a disk; wrap in plastic wrap, and chill one hour or overnight or freeze for up to a month.

Roll out on lightly floured surface when you are ready to make your pies.



  1. I can only make the graham cracker crust. For a pastry crust – it is best if I use a frozen job from the store.


    • I recently saw Martha Stewart say on tv that it’s fine to use the frozen pastry crusts if you like the taste of them! I keep them in my freezer all the time (phyllo leaves and puff pastry as well). I also read about a year ago that Julia Child served Goldfish crackers to guests with pre-dinner drinks, so I’ve added them to my pre-dinner snacks menu.


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