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.
- 2 sticks unsalted butter, chilled and cut into small pieces, divided
- 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1/2 cup ice water
Lay out three-quarters of the butter pieces on a parchment-lined baking sheet, and freeze until hard, at least 30 minutes. Refrigerate remaining butter.
Combine flour, salt, and sugar in a food processor. Add refrigerated butter, and pulse to combine, about 10 times. Add frozen butter, and pulse until mixture resembles coarse meal, with some blueberry-size clumps.
Add ice water, and immediately pulse until water is just incorporated, about 10 times. Squeeze a small amount of dough to make sure it holds together. Pulse a few more times if needed.
Lay out 2 pieces of plastic wrap. Empty half the dough onto each piece. Bring edges of wrap together to gather dough. Press into disks.
Roll out disks, still wrapped in plastic, to 1/2-inch-thick rounds (8 inches in diameter). Refrigerate at least 45 minutes and up to 2 days. Dough can be frozen up to 1 month.