Traditional recipes

No Fail, Sour Cream Pie Crust

No Fail, Sour Cream Pie Crust

Easiest, flakiest homemade pie crust EVER! No machine required. This buttery pie and pastry crust is our favorite, anyone can make!

Photography Credit:Elise Bauer

Move aside food processor! Be gone tough pie crusts! I hath found the holy grail of pastry doughs.

It is flaky, it is buttery, it is un-fussy, and it needs no difficult-to-clean equipment, just your clean hands and a large bowl. The secret?

Sour cream. No added water, instead you add sour cream. I’m not kidding. This method works and it couldn’t be easier.

The recipe comes from my friend, former Zuni Cafe chef Kathi Riley, who has been using it as her go-to pastry crust recipe for 25 years and who graciously shared it with me to share with you.

Why does this pie crust recipe work?

The biggest issue with flour-based pie crusts is toughness. Toughness develops when protein strands in gluten form when the flour and water come together.

By rubbing the flour initially with butter, you coat the flour protein molecules in fat. When you add sour cream, you add moisture that is surrounded by fat. Both the fat in the butter and the fat in the sour cream help keep water molecules away from protein molecules, resulting in a more tender pie crust.

Tips for pie dough success:

This pie dough works a little differently than classic pie dough:

  • Take the chill off the butter: Many pie crust recipes call for working with very cold ingredients, which is important for an all-butter pie crust. But in this recipe, you’ll work the butter into the flour with your hands, which will only work if the butter isn’t too cold. Take the butter out of the fridge and let it sit out for a few minutes before working it into the flour mixture. But don’t let it sit out too long! You do not want soft room temp butter here.
  • Squish the butter into the flour: As you work the butter into the flour, squish it so that some of the cubes flatten into the flour. Pressing down with your knuckles in the bowl can help with this. Flattened pieces of butter will result in flaky layers.
  • Stir the sour cream: Use full-fat sour cream and if it has separated in the container, stir it before adding it to the dough mixture.
  • Make sure your dough disks do not have cracks in them: Do not worry about overworking the dough to form the dough disks; because of the way we incorporate fat, this is a very forgiving pie dough. Do what you need to do to get the dough to hold together well. As you work it into disks, it should end up smooth, having the consistency of play-doh. Once you wrap the dough disk in plastic wrap, you can massage the dough and the edges with your warm hands to close any cracks.

Make ahead tips:

You can easily make ahead and refrigerate or freeze this pie dough. To make ahead, form a disk with the dough as flat as possible and wrap well with plastic wrap. You can make and refrigerate it one day ahead, no more than two days ahead of use.

To freeze the dough, wrap tightly in plastic wrap and then wrap tightly with aluminum foil. It will last in the freezer for up to 3 months. To thaw, let it gently thaw overnight in the refrigerator rather than at room temperature.

Make These Pies with This Crust:

  • Apple Pie
  • Blueberry Pie
  • Sweet Cherry Pie
  • Pecan Pie
  • Strawberry Rhubarb Pie

How to make the easiest pie crust ever

No Fail, Sour Cream Pie Crust Recipe

This recipe makes enough dough for a top and bottom crust for a 9-inch pie.

The dough ratio is 1 cup flour: 1 stick butter: 1/4 cup sour cream: 1/2 teaspoon salt: 1 teaspoon sugar. These are the amounts for a single-crust 9-inch pie.

If you are making a 10-inch pie, use 2 1/2 cups flour, 2 1/2 sticks (10 ounces, 1 1/4 cup) butter, 1/2 cup plus 2 Tbsp sour cream for a double crust, or 1 1/4 cups flour, 1 1/4 sticks (5 ounces) butter, 1/4 cup plus 1 Tbsp sour cream for a single crust.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups (260 g) all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon of salt (skip if using salted butter)
  • 2 teaspoons of sugar (for sweet recipes, otherwise skip)
  • 2 sticks unsalted butter (1 cup, 8 ounces, 225 g) cubed
  • 1/2 cup (115 ml) sour cream (full fat, NOT light sour cream)

Method

1 Cut butter into cubes and let sit for a couple minutes: Cut the butter into cubes and put in a warm spot to take the chill off (don't soften the butter, just let it sit out for couple minutes when you take it out of the fridge).

2 Whisk together flour, salt, sugar: In a large bowl, vigorously whisk together the flour, salt (omit if using salted butter), and sugar (if using).

3 Work the butter into the flour with your hands: Sprinkled the cubes of butter over the flour. Use your clean hands to squish the flour and butter together with your thumbs, fingers, and knuckles. Work the butter into the dough until you have what resembles a coarse meal with some flattened chunks of butter.

4 Add sour cream: Add the sour cream to the flour butter mixture. Use a fork to incorporate into the mixture.

5 Form dough into disks, refrigerate: Use your hands to gather the pastry dough together into a large ball. Use a knife to cut the ball in half. Form into two disks. As you work the dough into disks, it should end up smooth, having the consistency of Play-Doh. Don't worry about over-working this dough. Form the disks so that there are no cracks.

Sprinkle all over with a little flour. Wrap tightly with plastic wrap. Once you wrap the dough disk in plastic wrap, you can massage the dough and the edges with your warm hands to close any cracks. Chill in the refrigerator for an hour or up to a day ahead.

If you want to freeze for future use, wrap again, this time with aluminum foil and freeze (leave in refrigerator overnight to thaw before using).

6 Remove dough from fridge, let sit for a few minutes, then roll out: After the dough has been sitting in the fridge for an hour, remove it and let it sit for 5-10 minutes at room temperature to become more malleable before rolling out.

If it still feels too stiff to roll out, hold your hands around the edges to soften.

To roll out, sprinkle a clean, flat surface with flour. As you roll the dough, check to make sure the bottom is not sticking. If it is, lift it up and sprinkle a little flour underneath.

Roll out to 12 to 14 inches wide, to an even thickness.

You can use this pastry dough for unstructured rustic pies or galettes, or single or double crusted traditional pies. It can also be used for a savory pot pie.

Whether you use the dough for a galette or a double crust pie, it will be prettier with a light egg wash. Just whisk one egg in a small bowl, add a teaspoon of water, and brush lightly over the exposed crust with a pastry brush, right before baking.

Blind-baking this pie crust

This pie crust recipe is difficult to pre-bake. There is more fat in it than a regular crust, which can cause the sides to slump if you bake it without a filling. That said, I have successfully pre-baked this crust by fluting the edges of the dough extra high above the edges of the pie pan, freezing the crust for at least 30 minutes first, lining it with heavy foil, filling it all of the way with white granulated sugar, then baking it at 350°F for 50 minutes. (See our instructions for blind baking a pie crust.)

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The secret to super-flaky pie crust

You know those golden shards of crust that shower onto the plate or table when you cut (or bite) into something particularly crisp? Think baguette, croissants . or pie crust. Super-flaky pie crust crackles under the pressure of your fork, yielding reluctantly before finally giving way — leaving behind delicate crumbs of golden pastry. If no one’s looking, you pick them up and furtively lick them off your fingertips who can resist?

It’s impossible to find this signature texture in a packaged pie crust from your supermarket’s freezer case. Handy though it is, store-bought pie crust simply can’t rival a well-done homemade crust.

So what’s the secret to homemade super-flaky pie crust? Actually, it's not a pie crust recipe at all. It's puff pastry (a.k.a. laminated dough), the pastry that gives those aforementioned croissants their signature tender, flaky texture.

Wait, don’t panic! I won’t force-march you through the time and effort involved in tackling the original version of this classic. We’re going to make a much simpler pastry with (surprisingly) most of the same attributes.

Super-flaky pie crust: a simpler puff pastry

A traditional puff pastry recipe mixes flour, salt, butter, and water, adds a series of rollouts, folds, and turns, and yields a croissant or other pastry marked by multiple flaky layers.

Puff pastry will indeed create a super-flaky pie crust but it’s also a time-consuming and exacting process. Instead, we’ll make a variation on “rough puff” — a type of pastry seen frequently on The Great British Baking Show.

Rough puff relies on the same ingredients as classic puff pastry, but eliminates the shaping and flattening of the butter and many of the turns. Fast and Easy Puff Pastry, our version of rough puff, adds one ingredient (baking powder) to the rough puff formula and substitutes sour cream for its water.

The ingredients

Flour and salt are a given in any pie crust, so let’s move right on to a crust’s key variable: fat. The more butter in pie crust (compared to vegetable shortening or lard), the flakier it’ll be.

Really? Yes: we did the tests. While butter, shortening, or lard make equally light and tender crusts, an all-butter crust will be flakier due to butter’s higher water content: as the crust bakes the butter melts and its water turns to steam, creating thin, crisp layers (flakes).

Now, what do baking powder and sour cream bring to our rough puff variant? The addition of baking powder lightens the pastry, enhancing its layers, and the substitution of sour cream for water increases tenderness and improves flavor.

Super-flaky pie crust: the technique

Classic puff dough gets its flaky layers through a series of “turns:” a slab of butter is enveloped in dough, then the whole is rolled, folded, and turned multiple times, each turn resulting in more layers.

We’re not going there. Our simpler pastry works the butter into the flour as you would with traditional pie dough, adds sour cream to bring everything together, then uses two simple turns to create layers — not as many as in a classic puff, but certainly more than if you simply rolled out the dough right away.

With summer here, I’m hankering after a good fruit pie let’s see how well this Fast and Easy Puff Pastry works with the filling from our Anytime Peach Pie.

2 cups (241g) King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
1/2 teaspoon salt*
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup (16 tablespoons, 227g) cold unsalted butter,* cut in pats
1/2 cup (113g) sour cream
*If you use salted butter, reduce the amount of salt to 1/4 teaspoon.

Whisk together the flour, salt, and baking powder. Add the butter, working it in to make a coarse/crumbly mixture. Leave most of the butter in large, pea-sized pieces. Stir in the sour cream the dough won't be cohesive.

Use a spatula or bowl scraper to turn the crumbly mixture out onto a floured work surface or piece of parchment.

Bring everything together with a few quick kneads, and p at the dough into a rough log.

Roll the log into an 8" x 10" rectangle. Don't worry about any uneven edges precision isn't your goal here.

Dust both sides of the dough with flour.

Starting with a shorter end, fold it in three like a business letter.

Flip the dough over, give it a 90° turn on your work surface, and roll it into an 8" x 10" rectangle again.

Fold the dough like a business letter. That's it for the folds and turns you're done.

Wrap the dough in plastic (or your favorite reusable wrap), and chill it for at least 30 minutes before using.

Make your filling

Meanwhile, get your filling ready. I'm making the raspberry-enhanced version of our Anytime Peach Pie. "Anytime?" It's good year-round since you can absolutely use frozen peaches (and raspberries) in place of fresh if you like.

What about the dried apricots? They add both flavor and pleasing texture to the filling. Here's what you need:

about 3 cups chopped fresh peaches, peeled or not or one 16-ounce bag (454g) frozen peach slices, partially thawed and chopped
one 12- to 16-ounce bag (340g to 454g) frozen raspberries (no need to thaw)
1 cup (142g) chopped dried apricots
3/4 cup (149g) sugar
6 tablespoons (71g) Pie Filling Enhancer or 3/4 cup (85g) King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon almond extract, optional
1/8 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons (43g) fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons (28g) butter, melted

Mix everything together the raspberries will thaw, coloring the filling bright red. If you've used frozen fruit and want to reduce the pie's baking time, take the optional step of heating the cold filling until it's warmed up a bit. Do this in a saucepan set over a burner, or in the microwave. There's no need to bring the filling to a boil you simply want to take the chill off.

See those swirls of butter? They'll translate to extra layers of flakiness.

Assemble the pie

First step: start preheating the oven to 425°F. You want it good and hot when the pie goes in, so the butter in the crust melts and produces steam quickly.

Take your pastry out of the refrigerator. Cut it in half.

Roll one piece of the crust (the larger piece, if you haven't divided in half) into a 13" circle, and lay it in a 9" pie pan.

Spoon the filling into the crust.

Roll the remaining crust into a 9" circle, and lay it atop the filling. Bring the bottom crust up and over the top, and press the two together. Crimp however you like.

Now, here's one downside to an all-butter crust. Butter's melting point is lower than that of shortening, and thus it melts more quickly when the pie's in the oven. So an all-butter crust won't hold a sharp crimp as well as one made with all shortening, or a butter-shortening combination.

For added color and flavor, brush the crust with milk and sprinkle with coarse sparkling sugar, if desired.

Cut several slits in the top of the crust to allow steam from the filling to escape. For easiest handling, place the pie on a baking sheet. For protection against filling spills, first line the baking sheet with parchment trust me, you'll be glad you took this extra step.

Bake the pie

Bake the pie for 15 minutes. Reduce the oven heat to 350°F and bake for an additional 30 minutes, until the edge of the crust is brown. Cover the edge with a pie crust shield or with strips of aluminum foil to prevent over-browning.

Continue to bake the pie until the top crust is browned and the filling is bubbly you should be able to see the filling bubbling through the slits, or out a fissure at the edge. For best thickening, be sure to let the filling bubble for at least 5 minutes. This will take an additional 20 to 40 minutes or so, depending on how cold your filling was to begin with.

Remove the pie from the oven, and let it cool.

Here's your first clue that you've used a different type of pastry: the crust will be taller and puffier than usual. You'll also notice that it's pretty much lost its crimp around the edge. Oh, well . Taste and texture trump beauty any day in my book!

Here's pie made with Fast and Easy Puff Pastry on the left and a typical shortening and butter crust on the right. Notice the enhanced flakiness of the top crust made with puff pastry.

Three slices of peach-apricot-raspberry pie on plates, ready to serve.

The verdict: success!

Does Fast and Easy Puff Pastry make good pie crust? Yes, absolutely — and I wish you could reach into this picture and take a bite right now! The crust is buttery and tender. And while its flakiness isn't super-apparent on the bottom beneath the filling, the top crust is ready to shatter into shards with each forkful. Super-flaky pie crust? Nailed it.


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No Fail, Sour Cream Pastry Crust Recipe

This recipe makes enough dough for a top and bottom crust for a 9-inch pie.

Kathi’s basic ratio is 1 cup flour: 1 stick butter: 1/4 cup sour cream: 1/2 teaspoon salt: 1 teaspoon sugar. These are the amounts for a single-crust 9-inch pie.

If you are making a 10-inch pie, use 2 1/2 cups flour, 2 1/2 sticks (10 ounces, 1 1/4 cup) butter, 1/2 cup plus 2 Tbsp sour cream for a double crust, or 1 1/4 cups flour, 1 1/4 sticks (5 ounces) butter, 1/4 cup plus 1 Tbsp sour cream for a single crust.

Do NOT use this recipe if you need to pre-bake a crust. This pastry crust recipe does not pre-bake well.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups (260 g) all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon of salt (skip if using salted butter)
  • 2 teaspoons of sugar (for sweet recipes, otherwise skip)
  • 2 sticks unsalted butter (1 cups, 8 ounces, 225 g) cubed
  • 1/2 cup (115 ml) sour cream (full fat, NOT light sour cream)

Method

1 Cut butter into cubes and let sit for a couple minutes: Cut the butter into cubes and put in a warm spot to take the chill off (don’t soften the butter, just let it sit out for couple minutes when you take it out of the fridge).

2 Whisk together flour, salt, sugar: In a large bowl, vigorously whisk together the flour, salt (omit if using salted butter), and sugar (if using).

3 Work the butter into the flour with your hands: Sprinkled the cubes of butter over the flour. Use your clean hands to squish the flour and butter together with your thumbs and fingers. Work the butter into the dough until you have what resembles a coarse meal with some chunks of butter.

4 Add sour cream: Add the sour cream to the flour butter mixture. Use a fork to incorporate into the mixture.

5 Form dough into disks, refrigerate: Use your hands to gather the pastry dough together into a large ball. Use a knife to cut the ball in half. Form into two disks.

Sprinkle all over with a little flour. Wrap tightly with plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator for an hour or up to a day ahead.

If you want to freeze for future use, wrap again, this time with aluminum foil and freeze (leave in refrigerator overnight to thaw before using).

6 Remove dough from fridge, let sit for a few minutes, then roll out: After the dough has been sitting in the fridge for an hour, remove it and let it sit for 5-10 minutes at room temperature to become more malleable before rolling out.

If it still feels too stiff to roll out, hold your hands around the edges to soften.

To roll out, sprinkle a clean, flat surface with flour. As you roll the dough, check to make sure the bottom is not sticking. If it is, lift it up and sprinkle a little flour underneath.

Roll out to 12 to 14 inches wide, to an even thickness.

You can use this pastry dough for unstructured rustic pies or galettes, or single or double crusted traditional pies. It can also be used for a savory pot pie.

Whether you use the dough for a galette or a double crust pie, it will be prettier with a light egg wash. Just whisk one egg in a small bowl, add a teaspoon of water, and brush lightly over the exposed crust with a pastry brush, right before baking.

Do not use this recipe if you need to pre-bake the pie crust. The the amount of sour cream and butter that make this crust so wonderfully delicious and flakey will cause the sides of the crust to collapse if you bake it without a filling.


Perfect Pie Crust

This recipe, sent to me by my friend Sylvia, is absolutely, positively a keeper.

Crisco (vegetable shortening)

  1. In a large bowl, with a pastry cutter, gradually work the Crisco into the flour for about 3 or 4 minutes until it resembles a coarse meal. In a small bowl, beat an egg with a fork and then pour it into the flour/shortening mixture. Add 5 tablespoons of cold water, 1 tablespoon of white vinegar and 1 teaspoon of salt. Stir together gently until all of the ingredients are incorporated.
  2. Separate the dough into thirds. ***Note: Separating it into thirds will result in three thin crusts. If you prefer a more substantial crust, separate it in half.*** Form 3 evenly sized balls of dough and place each dough into a large Ziploc bag. Using a rolling pin, slightly flatten each ball of dough (about ½ inch thick) to make rolling easier later. Seal the bags and place them in the freezer until you need them. (If you will be using it immediately it&rsquos still a good idea to put in the freezer for about 15 to 20 minutes to chill.)
  3. When you are ready to use the dough to make a crust, remove from the freezer and allow to thaw for 15 minutes. On a floured surface roll the dough, starting at the center and working your way out. (Sprinkle some flour over top of the dough if it&rsquos a bit too moist.) If the dough is sticking to the countertop use a metal spatula and carefully scrape it up and flip it over and continue rolling until it&rsquos about ½ inch larger in diameter than your pie pan.
  4. With a spatula, lift the dough carefully from the surface of the counter into the pie pan. Gently press the dough against the corner of the pan. Go around the pie pan pinching and tucking the dough to make a clean edge.

I receive recipes from readers quite frequently, and I read each and every one. I figure if someone&rsquos going to take the time to type out and email me a recipe, it&rsquos probably pretty dadgum good. I have a folder building of the reader recipes I plan to try in the new year, but the one I couldn&rsquot wait to test out was this pie crust recipe, sent to me by Sylvia L., a reader. I&rsquod seen different permutations/combinations of this recipe before&mdashin fact, I believe my mom&rsquos &ldquoPerfect Pie Crust&rdquo uses these same ingredients. Something dear Sylvia suggested, though, really caught my eye: &ldquoYou can even make them ahead of time and freeze them,&rdquo she said. &ldquoThe crusts turn out even flakier!&rdquo

I really love flaky pie crust, and it&rsquos always been a difficult quality for me to achieve, despite most people&rsquos claims that their recipe is THE flakiest pie crust in existence. I was intrigued, and decided to try Sylvia&rsquos recipe and method here in plain sight. You&rsquoll get to see the results in the next post, but for now let&rsquos MAKE this blessed, beautiful pie crust, shall we?

The Cast of Characters: Crisco (vegetable shortening), flour, salt, water, vinegar, and egg. Oh, how could anything so right ever go wrong?

First, measure 3 cups All-Purpose flour into a mixing bowl.

Next, measure 1 1/2 cups Crisco. For once in my life, I&rsquom going to say this&hellipand then it will never happen again: You must use Crisco, not butter. Butter simply will not work.

And what is UP with my finger in this photo? How scary does THAT look?

Add the Crisco to the flour&hellip

And find your pastry cutter. It really is an essential tool when it comes to pie crust. (Yeah, yeah, you can use &ldquotwo knives&rdquo and all that, but I&rsquove never done that successfully. Actually, I&rsquove never tried it. But if I ever tried it, I know it wouldn&rsquot work. I just know it.)

Just gradually work the Crisco into the flour.

You should expect this to take 3 to 4 minutes&hellip

Just keep working until the mixture resembles &ldquocoarse meal,&rdquo though I&rsquove never really understood what that means. Basically, there should be no large chunks of shortening left it should all be integrated into the flour. Or the flour should be integrated into the shortening. It&rsquos all how you look at it.

Now crack an egg into a bowl&hellip

Now pour the egg into the flour/shortening mixture.

Add 5 tablespoons cold water&hellip

Then find your white vinegar&hellip

Next, add 1 teaspoon of salt&hellip

That means don&rsquot beat the tar out of it. Just incorporate the ingredients, man.

Now stick your big claw into the bowl and remove one-third of the dough.

Repeat to form three evenly-sized balls of dough.

Now place each dough into a large Ziploc bag.

We&rsquore going to prepare the balls of dough for freezing.

Using a rolling pin, slightly flatten each ball of dough to make rolling easier later&hellip

Then seal each Ziploc and place bags in the FREEZER&mdashyes, Sylvia, I&rsquom listenin&rsquo to ya, honey&mdashuntil you need them.

Now, this is how my life works: I intended to freeze the dough for about twenty minutes, allowing it to firm up and make rolling easier for the pie I was about to make for you, my precious, darling, beloved readers. Then I got a call from an acquaintance of mine who&rsquod been caught in the blinding snowstorm that hit our country this afternoon. She&rsquod run off the highway and was stuck in the ditch, and wanted to know if Marlboro Man and I were free to come help her. Of course, I told her we&rsquod be right there, and within minutes we&rsquod loaded up the kids and headed toward our stranded motorist.

Marlboro Man hooked up a chain to her very lightweight pickup and, knowing how nervous she is about ice and snow, I offered to steer her vehicle out of the snow and drive her home. Because he&rsquos perfect at everything, Marlboro Man got us out, said, &ldquoFollow me,&rdquo and headed toward our friend&rsquos house in the country. &ldquoYou&rsquore so brave,&rdquo our friend gushed as I took off down the highway. &ldquoI&rsquom so nervous in this kind of weather.&rdquo

&ldquoAww, it&rsquos no big deal,&rdquo I said, taking one hand off the steering wheel and leaning back comfortably. &ldquoAfter eleven years of marriage out here, I&rsquove had to learn how to drive in ice and snow.&rdquo

Then the very lightweight pickup began to fishtail and I promptly used my mad ice driving skillz to drive right into a huge snowdrift in the ditch. Then I felt a little silly about what I&rsquod just said about the eleven years of marriage and the learning to drive in ice and snow and all that.

All this to say, Marlboro Man had to turn BACK around and pull ME out of the ditch, and when we finally arrived back home, the pie crusts were hard as a rock in the freezer. I wondered how this might affect the taste of the baked crust later? Would it damage the integrity of the ingredients? Marr the beauty of the perfect mixture? Only time would tell.

I was pleased, though, that it only took about fifteen minutes of thawing on the countertop before the dough was ready to roll. It&rsquos best to begin while the dough is quite firm, so no need to wait around forever.


No-Fail Pie Crust

Read on for Yvette Lessard's secret ingredient! Use this for Sour Cream Raisin Pie and Pumpkin Pie.

Ingredients

  • 5 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 1/3 cups lard (1 lb/500 g)
  • 1 egg
  • 3/4 cups cold 7-Up or similar carbonated soft drink (approx)

Nutritional facts <b>Per shell:</b> about

  • Sodium 47 mg
  • Protein 2 g
  • Calories 132.0
  • Total fat 9 g
  • Cholesterol 13 mg
  • Saturated fat 4 g
  • Total carbohydrate 11 g

Method

In large bowl, combine flour with salt using pastry blender or 2 knives, cut in lard until mixture resembles fine crumbs with a few larger pieces.

In glass measure, beat egg with fork. Pour in enough of the 7Up soft drink to make 1 cup (250 mL). Stirring briskly with fork, gradually add egg mixture to flour mixture just until dough holds together.

Turn out onto floured surface knead 3 times to form ball. Divide into fifths and flatten each into disc. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes or until chilled. (Dough can be refrigerated for up to 5 days or frozen for up to 3 months. Let cold pastry stand for 15 minutes at room temperature before rolling out.)


Sour Cream Pie Crust

Yield Makes 2 single or one double 9-inch crust

  • shellfish-free
  • kidney-friendly
  • fish-free
  • alcohol-free
  • low-potassium
  • vegetarian
  • peanut-free
  • pork-free
  • pescatarian
  • sugar-conscious
  • egg-free
  • soy-free
  • tree-nut-free
  • low-sodium
  • red-meat-free
  • Calories 271
  • Fat 19.3 g (29.7%)
  • Saturated 11.9 g (59.6%)
  • Carbs 21.5 g (7.2%)
  • Fiber 0.7 g (2.8%)
  • Sugars 1.7 g
  • Protein 3.2 g (6.5%)
  • Sodium 108.4 mg (4.5%)

Ingredients

unbleached all-purpose flour

(2 sticks) butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes

(8-ounce) container sour cream

Instructions

In a medium mixing bowl, whisk the flour, sugar and salt to combine. Add the butter to the flour mixture and toss to coat. Put the bowl in the freezer for 10 minutes.

Turn the mixture onto a clean, dry counter (marble is best) and roll over it with a rolling pin to flatten the butter pieces. Using your hands or a bench scraper gather the mixture together then roll over it again with the pin. Repeat one more time, then scrape the mixture back into the bowl and place in the freezer for 5 minutes.

Turn the mixture back onto the counter and roll and scrape it together three more times. Place it in the freezer for another 10 minutes, then remove the bowl from the freezer and gently fold in the sour cream. Shape the dough into a ball. If the dough isn't moist enough to hold its shape, add 1 to 2 tablespoons cold milk.

Cover the dough with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes, then divide the dough in half and roll out to fit your pie plate.

When crust is shaped, proceed by pre-baking, or filling, according to your recipe.


Ingredients and Substitutions

Dairy-Free: I often get asked about making this extra flaky gluten free pie crust dairy free. My first and best suggestion is instead to use my recipe for a classic gluten free pie crust, and replace the butter with butter-flavored Spectrum nonhydrogenated vegetable shortening. It’s a much easier swap, and that is a truly lovely pie crust.

But if you’d like to stick with this recipe, I’d try the same swap for butter, and try replacing the sour cream with either Greek-style (strained and thickened) plain nondairy yogurt, or nondairy sour cream. I have not tried that swap, though, so you’ll have to experiment!

You can watch me make every stage of this beautiful gluten free pie crust—and then make your own. And for different ways to use this extra flaky gluten free pie crust, check out my gluten free pie crust web story.

Like this recipe?


Sour cream crust makes pastry-baking easy as pie

I have a confession to make: Despite my love of all things baking, I have yet to master the perfect pie.

‘Tis the season for harvest-y pies and Christmassy pies and all the wonderful fillings that can be baked in a pastry. But homemade pie crust is a true art. It requires delicacy, restraint and a light touch — sort of like performing deep tissue massage on a butterfly.

The pastry needs to stay ice-cube cold, or it will stick. Once that happens, you’ll be tempted to add extra flour, which could transform it from flaky, delicate crust to drywall. It’s the type of culinary project that takes lots of practice and the perfect fusion of conditions (the right temperature, the right amount of handling, the right prayers to the baking gods) to turn out right.

I’ve tried all sorts of recipes to master this flaky and formidable pastry. I’ve tried changing up the fat: butter, Crisco, lard and once, in a spectacular error of judgment, canola oil.

I’ve tried the most basic of recipes (fat, flour, salt) and the fancier kinds that incorporate weird ingredients like vinegar and vodka and 7 Up. These recipes produced a few upper-crust crusts, but the majority were too dry, too thick, too flavorless or too flimsy.

Just when I thought my only hope left was Pillsbury, I ran across this intriguing recipe from the Simply Recipes website. It not only includes two whole sticks of butter, but also a 1/2 cup of sour cream.

The author, Elise Bauer, claimed this is the easiest, flakiest and tastiest pie crust imaginable. It doesn’t contain a drop of water and it doesn’t need to be made with a food processor.

Bauer explains that traditional pie pastry gets tough when protein strands in the gluten form as the flour and water blend together. But the sour cream version creates a fatty cocoon around the flour protein molecules, which keeps water away from the protein molecules. Result: The crust stays tender.

Another difference with this crust is that the ingredients don’t need to be cold. Bauer suggests removing the butter from the fridge and letting it sit for five to 10 minutes so you can work the butter into the flour with your hands. The object is to flatten pieces of butter while mixing, which guarantees crust with super-flaky layers.

Of course, I had to try it. I scrounged up some apple pie filling, along with two Gala apples and three crab apples, to fill the pastry. As promised, the pastry was incredibly easy to work with. I was able to create two smooth disks of dough, which had the consistency of newly opened Play Doh.

I used plenty of flour to roll out the soft dough, which needed at least an hour of refrigeration beforehand. I kneaded and manhandled the dough pretty mercilessly but, as promised, it did not get tough.

It baked up beautifully — creating a tender, slightly tangy crust that melted in the mouth. In fact, one friend who popped over had a piece, and declared it the best pie she’s ever eaten.

One caveat: This crust is so fattalicious and soft that it doesn’t work well for single-crust pies that need to be blind-baked — like pumpkin. Without the “support” of a filling, it starts to slump, and you will wind up with a pancake vs. a shell. (Delicious, but not very functional.)

Bauer says she has found a way to successfully pre-bake a single crust: fluting the edges of dough extra high above the edges of the pan, freezing the crust for at least 30 minutes, lining it with heavy foil, filling it all the way to the top with white granulated sugar and baking it at 350 degrees for 50 minutes.

But that seemed a bit labor-intensive for a crust that is supposed to be “easy.” So for now, I will stick to using this recipe for super-nummy two-crust pies.

Makes: enough dough for 2 single crusts, or 1 double crust

2 teaspoons sugar (omit for savory pies)

2 sticks unsalted butter, cubed and removed from fridge for 5-10 minutes

1/2 cup full-fat sour cream

After removing butter from fridge to soften slightly, whisk together flour, salt and sugar. Sprinkle the cubes of butter over the flour. With clean hands, use your knuckles, thumbs and fingers to vigorously squish the flour and butter together. Work the butter into the dough until it resembles a coarse meal with some flattened chunks of butter.

Add the sour cream to the flour-butter mixture use a fork to incorporate well.

Gather the pastry dough together into a large ball. With a knife, cut the ball in half. Form into 2 disks.

As you work the dough, it should end up smooth, having the consistency of Play-Doh. Don’t worry about overworking it.

Form the disks so that there are no cracks. Sprinkle all over with a little flour. Wrap tightly with plastic wrap. Chill in the refrigerator for an hour or up to 1 day ahead.

Remove dough from fridge, let it sit for 5-10 minutes, then roll out on a well-floured surface. If bottom is sticking, sprinkle more flour underneath the dough.

Use this recipe for double-crusted traditional pies. It will be prettier if you brush the crust with an egg wash (a beaten egg mixed with 1 teaspoon water) right before baking.

To bake, place pie on a baking sheet in a 375-degree oven and bake for 20 minutes, or until the top starts to lightly brown, then lower the temperature to 350 degrees and bake anywhere from 45 minutes to an hour or longer (length of baking time will depend on the filling used). The pie is done when juices are noticeably bubbling or a digital thermometer inserted in center reads 200 degrees. If crust is browning too much, tent it with aluminum foil.


Sour Cream Pie Crust

Makes: enough dough for 2 single crusts, or 1 double crust

2 teaspoons sugar (omit for savory pies)

2 sticks unsalted butter, cubed and removed from fridge for 5-10 minutes

1/2 cup full-fat sour cream

After removing butter from fridge to soften slightly, whisk together flour, salt and sugar. Sprinkle the cubes of butter over the flour. With clean hands, use your knuckles, thumbs and fingers to vigorously squish the flour and butter together. Work the butter into the dough until it resembles a coarse meal with some flattened chunks of butter.

Add the sour cream to the flour-butter mixture use a fork to incorporate well.

Gather the pastry dough together into a large ball. With a knife, cut the ball in half. Form into 2 disks.

As you work the dough, it should end up smooth, having the consistency of Play-Doh. Don't worry about overworking it.

Form the disks so that there are no cracks. Sprinkle all over with a little flour. Wrap tightly with plastic wrap. Chill in the refrigerator for an hour or up to 1 day ahead.

Remove dough from fridge, let it sit for 5-10 minutes, then roll out on a well-floured surface. If bottom is sticking, sprinkle more flour underneath the dough.

Use this recipe for double-crusted traditional pies. It will be prettier if you brush the crust with an egg wash (a beaten egg mixed with 1 teaspoon water) right before baking.

To bake, place pie on a baking sheet in a 375-degree oven and bake for 20 minutes, or until the top starts to lightly brown, then lower the temperature to 350 degrees and bake anywhere from 45 minutes to an hour or longer (length of baking time will depend on the filling used). The pie is done when juices are noticeably bubbling or a digital thermometer inserted in center reads 200 degrees. If crust is browning too much, tent it with aluminum foil.


If you want to make an insanely flaky homemade pie crust, there are two key things to keep in mind:

Use a high-quality unsalted, butter for pie crust. When making pie crust I splurge on a good European-style brand. Full-fat butter is where the flavor lies, with a high butterfat percentage and low water content. Sure, I’ve made pie crust with salted butter, but unsalted allows you to better control the amount yourself.

Make sure your butter is really, really cold. Sticking it in the freezer for 15 minutes helps. But before you do, use a bench scraper to cut the sticks of butter into 1/2 inch cubes, then freeze if desired. Or, work quickly so your butter stays cold and go straight into the mixing.

Cold ingredients, especially the butter and the water, keep those buttery fat flavor pockets solid and stand-alone when the heat hits the butter rather than warm and homogenized in the dough, creating sheaths of flaky layers. Fill a 1-cup measuring cup half way with ice cubes and the rest water and add a few tablespoons of water at a time for a shaggy crust.