One thing I know for sure, almost every single Fourth of July picnic, barbecue, or pool party will feature a pie. And if you’re the one bringing it, it had better be good. (Unless you don’t care about being popular.) And obviously, one of the key components to a successful pie, is a super flaky crust.
I like to choose one day, early in the summer, to make a ton of crust and stash it in the freezer for any pie emergency that may pop up during the season. Then, whenever I want to make a homemade pie, the homemade crust step is already taken care of. This summer, I squared my usual recipe for four crusts and made 16. It wasn’t pretty, but now I’m done for the summer and can spend more time at the beach and less time making crust.
As far as pie crust goes, it’s not as complicated as you think. I use five ingredients, and that’s it. I’ve tried fooling around with shortening and vinegar and cream cheese and the like, but this recipe always gets rave reviews, so my crust quest is over. Here’s a little video I put together about how to make it:
Now, if you make this delicious homemade crust and decide that you’re too exhausted to make the whole shebang, I suggest these surprisingly satisfying pie crust cookies. They’re a great way to enjoy my favorite part of the pie without delay. Brushed with egg wash and sprinkled with raw sugar, pie crust cookies are almost like mini versions of those giant elephant ears you get at the deli. I like big portions, but personally, a pastry the size of an elephant’s ear is even too much flake for a flake-lover like me. These cookies are the perfect serving of flake.
They’re also the perfect amount of crunch to top off a patriotic berry parfait for Fourth of July. Of course, you can’t go wrong cutting them in the shape of the United States. Bring the best part of the pie without the pie and you’ll be the most popular person at the picnic, barbecue or pool party. And they also work as a spoon!
Basic Pie Crust Recipe for Cookies or Pie (makes four crusts or a plethora of cookies in one sitting so you can stash it in the freezer and spend more time outdoors)
- 1 pound unsalted butter, cold
- 5 cups all-purpose or pastry flour
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 3/4 cup ice water
- Cut the butter into 1/2-inch cubes and store in the freezer for 20-30 minutes.
- Combine flour, sugar and salt in a large bowl.
- If you’re using your hands, forks or a pastry cutter, combine the butter with the dry ingredients and break it up into big chunks, not coarse meal. The chunks should be the size of small rocks.
- If you’re using a stand mixer, mix the butter and dry ingredients with a paddle attachment. You just want to break up the butter, you don’t want to cream it like cookies. Again, big, jagged chunks are what you’re looking for.
- If you’re using a food processor, dump dry ingredients and butter into the bowl with the blade attachment. Pulse about 10 times, give or take, until the butter is broken into big chunks.
- No matter what method you use to cut in the butter, mix the water in with your hands. (So if you used a food processor, transfer the dough into a large bowl.) Toss the water in with your hands and gently toss and press the water into the dough until it forms a messy ball. Don’t knead the dough or squeeze it in your fists. And whatever you do, don’t work it until it’s smooth. The butter chunks should still be large and visible.
- Divide it into four equal parts and chill for at least 30 minutes to an hour if you’re going to use it immediately. Store in the freezer if you’re not going to use it in the next day or two.
- For cookies, roll the chilled dough out, cut the cookies into your desired shape and chill them again for about 20 minutes on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
- Brush cookies with egg wash (1 egg combined with 1 T water) and sprinkle with raw or demerara sugar (or whatever you have).
- Bake cookies for about 10-15 minutes, or until golden brown and flaky.
- Unite with berries, whipped cream, lemon curd or chocolate mousse.