Growing up, as a family we would go to visit our great Aunt Mary and Uncle Bruce at first when they lived in Oakland, and then later in the country outside Redding, CA. When preparing a meal for us, he would almost always make the tastiest pies with the best crust recipe. It had an incredibly tasty and perfectly flaky crust every time. When I got old enough to care about how these came to be I asked him about it, they had retired and moved to the country. I remember that afternoon in their little kitchen in the country with yellow flowered wallpaper as he acted surprised when tried to tell him that pie crusts must not be rolled out twice, and he must exercise great caution as he mixed the dough. I was the veteran of several pie making experiments by the age of 12, and felt very knowledgeable about the subject. To this day I really do not know if he was joking or not about being surprised. It turns out this recipe is as not fickle as traditional pie crust recipes where every touch counts once the liquid ingredients have been added to the dry ingredients. It does count, just not like regular pie crust recipes. There are a few secret ingredients, as well as some baking tips that may or may not be new to you. if you already know them, great! You are a well educated cook. If not then awesome! You are learning new things 🙂
If making this for a pre-baked crust recipe, bake according to the directions on the pie recipe, or until golden brown. Remember to put dried beans, ceramic beads, or some kind of other weight to keep it from shrinking when it cooks empty.
This recipe has evolved over the years to include a few extra ingredients. The baking soda I added to help make the crust extra flaky. The vinegar is to keep the crust from being bitter after adding the baking soda. Vinegar also adds to the flakiness. If there is baking soda in any recipe there must be an acid of some kind or it will be bitter. Baking powder is baking soda with added ingredients. You can make baking powder by adding cream of tarter. This also works like an acid to keep things from tasting bitter when baking soda is involved. Other things you can add to recipes with baking soda to keep the bitter out are lemon juice, buttermilk, and all kinds of vinegar like balsamic or apple cider. There are so many specialty kinds or flavors of vinegar available today that compliment so many kinds or sweet and savory foods.
About the butter, it is important that it is solid and cold, not liquid. If the butter is liquid, the crust will not turn out as desired. The colder the butter the harder to work, but the important part is the butter does not turn to mush while making the pie crust.
Uncle Bruce’s Pie Crust
3 cups flour
1 teaspoon Himalayan pink sea salt
1 large-ish pinch baking soda
1 ½ cups cold unsalted butter
½ cup water
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1. In a large bowl, mix flour, salt, and baking soda until well incorporated. If you have a kitchen Aid mixer, mix it on low for at least 3 minutes. The more evenly mixed the dry ingredients, the better the end result.
2. Add butter and mix until it looks like coarse cornmeal.
3. In another bowl, beat egg, water, and vinegar.
4. Pour into dry mixture and blend until incorporated. Once the liquids are added, stop mixing as soon as everything is blended together. This should not take long at all.
5. Roll into a ball and divide into thirds or quarters depending on how big of crusts you want to make.
6. Using a flour dusted counter and rolling pin or any tube (like a glass) to roll out the dough to about 1/4″ thick.
7. Either roll back onto the rolling pin to transfer it to the pie dish, or fold (gently) in half and in half again to transfer.
8. Once in pie plate, adjust to center and make sure it is gently pressed into the plate.
9. If pre-baking empty crust, cut edges outside pie plate with a table knife using a gentle sawing motion.
10. Bake according to the pie filling recipe instructions.
Makes approximately 3 – 9” bottoms.