Making piecrust can leave a cook feeling like a magician. Combine flour, water, and butter with just a bit of sugar and salt and -- presto! -- the result is a tender, flaky pastry that elevates just about any filling. The trick, of course, is in the method -- a simple but precise series of steps that, through baking thousands of pies, our test-kitchen staff has trial-and-errored down to a science.
When it comes to making pastry, it takes more than just words in a recipe to master the technique. Follow these visual cues for an easy, can't-miss crust.
Running the processor while pouring in the water can result in an overworked (read: tough) dough. Instead, pour in all the water, and immediately give the mixture a few quick pulses to combine.
With this method, there is no guesswork for the amount of water. The dough should remain crumbly but come together when pressed. Don't pulse it so long that it forms a ball. If it does, it's overworked.
Bring the edges of the plastic wrap together to form a round mass, and press on top of the wrap to form a disk. You're simultaneously gathering the crumbs into a cohesive dough and shaping it.