Move aside food processor! Be gone tough pie crusts! I hath found the holy grail of pastry doughs. It is flakey, 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. Enjoy!
This recipe makes enough dough for a top and bottom crust, or for two bottom crusts. You can easily halve the recipe if you only want to make one bottom crust.
- 3 cups (400 g) all purpose flour
- 1 1/2 teaspoons of salt
- 1 Tbsp of sugar (for sweet recipes, otherwise skip)
- 3 sticks unsalted butter (1 1/2 cups, 12 ounces, 340 g) cubed
- 3/4 cup (175 ml) sour cream (full fat, NOT light sour cream)
1 Place the cubed unsalted butter in a bowl and put in a warm spot to take the chill off.
2 In a large bowl, vigorously whisk together the flour, salt (omit if using salted butter), and sugar (if using).
3 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 the sour cream to the flour butter mixture. Use a fork to incorporate into the mixture.
5 Use your hands to gather the pastry dough together into a large ball. Use a knife to cut the ball in half. Form into disks. Sprinkle all over with a little flour. Wrap tightly with plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes and 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 If dough has been in the refrigerator for more than 2 hours, let it sit for 5-10 minutes at room temperature to become more malleable before rolling out. To roll out, sprinkle a clean, flat surface with a little 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.